An Inconvenient Truth: A Most Convenient Documentary

         Several actors have changed courses in their lives and turned to politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and Ronald Reagan are examples of this. But one documentary directed by David Guggenheim in 2006 made a politician into a silver screen star, and not the other way around.

        An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim in 2006, is a 100-minute long eloquently spoken lecture by former Vice President Al Gore on what the government does not want you to know about the effect of global warming on the environment. I learned so much from this film without realizing I was being taught. To be honest, I did not actually understand what global warming really is until I was watching the movie. I thought it was caused by the depletion of the ozone layer; but according to this movie, the ozone layer is no longer a problem. As a nation, we were able to pass laws banning certain chemicals that were harmful to the ozone layer, thus keeping it from disappearing forever. In fact, global warming is almost the opposite. Instead of too many of the sun’s rays getting into the earth’s atmosphere, the problem is that pollution is building up and keeping the scorching rays from leaving earth. In a nutshell, instead of sunlight bouncing off the earth the way it is supposed to, the heat is getting trapped, causing it to build up and raise the temperature of the planet.

         This documentary is a mix of scientific research and a little bit of humor, such as the beginning when Gore introduces himself, saying, “I'm Al Gore; I used to be the next president of the United States.” With the use of one huge PowerPoint presentation and some other nifty gadgets, Gore is able to back up all his devastating information with photos, videos and charts. To break up some of the monotony, footage of Gore visiting affected areas is spliced in. These sections give you a more personal look at the situation through Gore’s own experiences. It takes you to his hometown of Carthage, TN, where he talks about some of his childhood memories that have led to him becoming an environmentalist, and even into his present- day office, where you see him networking and preparing to go on tour with all the information he and his team have gathered about global warming.

         At the end of the movie, just when you feel all is lost and you should prepare for the worst, Gore explains the solutions to ending Global Warming. They are all very simple changes that any person can make such as buying energy efficient appliances and driving low emissions vehicles. The statistics are alarming, but relieving at the same time. Just these few simple changes could determine whether or not millions of people lose their homes or die because of the effects of global warming.

         One quotation that really hit home to me came when Gore asks the question: “Should we prepare for other threats besides terrorists?” How many billions of dollars has Bush spent on the war in Iraq, and how much money and energy has he spent on saving the planet? Honestly, I have never personally felt afraid of terrorists. I have never worried about whether or not someone from the Middle East would try to kill me, and even he or she did I am only one person. Even the number of people who were killed on 9/11 does not measure up when you think about how many people would die if the water levels continue to rise, and millions upon millions of towns, neighborhoods, and major cities are under water. I have never once gone to bed worried about a terrorist attack, but I have gone to bed worried that the earth will become inhabitable in my lifetime.

         Premiering at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the documentary won two academy awards including best documentary and made over forty-five million dollars in box offices worldwide. Five percent of the box office receipts from Paramount Pictures and All of Gore’s proceeds from the film will be donated to The Alliance for Climate Protection. Even the DVD case for the film is made of 100% recycled materials. It is the third highest grossing documentary in the United States to date coming in directly after Michael Moore’s 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11 and Jordan Roberts’ 2005 March of the Penguins.

         Gore and the film have received very mixed reviews for this film. Ebert and Roper gave it two thumbs up, saying that if you do not see it, then you will have to explain to your grandchildren in fifty years why you did not, while other critics bash it for being misleading or exaggerating the truth. While scientific theories and facts are proven and disproved on a daily basis, I do not doubt that some of the information used in the movie has already changed, or was exaggerated in the predictions. But one thing is for sure: this film was created not to be used as a statistical guide, but as a wake-up call that humans cannot go on forever the way we have in the past. We are putting too much of a strain on our resources and the planet as a whole. You cannot guzzle up fossil fuel and expect it to never run out; you cannot slaughter the rainforests other wooded areas and expect to not kill off several species and harm the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and most of all you cannot allow for the land mass to be covered with melted ice caps when the populations is growing at an alarming rate. None of these things make sense, especially to those who have experienced the effects already.

         In closing, I am convinced that this film is important to the history of the cinema because it is the first film starring a politician to use a campaign tour made into a feature-length film. It capitalized on informing the public and presenting scientific evidence rather than relying on sex, violence, or other gimmicky strategies commonly used to score big bucks at the box office. This film brought up moral issues, stepped on political toes, and crossed boundaries that most film makers try to stay away from.

Paulina Combow

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