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An Inconvenient Truth

Certification: Sweden:Btl / USA:PG / Norway:A / Hong Kong:I / Finland:K-3 / Netherlands:MG6 / Ireland:G / UK:U / Canada:G / Portugal:M/6 / Singapore:PG / Australia:PG

I went to this film expecting it to be all doom and gloom. After all this is a documentary on Al Gore’s campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognised problem worldwide. I expected Al Gore to be quite unemotional, distant even. I was wrong on all counts. Gore has one principal aim, and that’s to convince viewers to change first their minds, then their habits. “The only way I know how to do this is city by city, person by person, family by family,” he explains in narration. “Pretty soon, enough minds are changed that we cross a threshold.”

I was surprised how much humour there was in the documentary. Al Gore came over as quite a warm, sympathetic person. Interspersed between the charts and graphs are moments of humour and emotion. I particularly liked his ridicule of an illustration which invited us to choose between money/industry and the Earth!

I loved the cartoon clip that Al Gore shows to help explain global warming from the Futurama episode “Crimes of the Hot.” I later learned that his daughter Kristen Gore, was a writer for the show.

The anecdotes concerning his personal life explain his interest in the subject: his college Professor recognising the problem early on and communicating it to his students. The story of his elder sister dying of cancer and his family involvement in growing tobacco was moving and served to explain why people turned a blind eye to warnings and why it was important that they should face reality. Al Gore explained not just the science but his own motivation: why he believed this was such a vital issue.

I couldn’t help wondering whether he had improved as a result of his political defeat (temporary I think if this is anything to go by). Gore cracks self-deprecating jokes – “I am the former next president of the United States” He seems more confident, relaxed and likeable. Detractors will call it a political ploy but aside from a few swipes at the Bush administration (and who can blame him?), Gore sticks to the plot. Clips of Gore on his boyhood farm, flashbacks to formative tragedies and poetic reflections on the ethics of being green are here too. They certainly made me feel that I understood what drives him more. Many people believe Gore will run for president again in 2008 and this documentary convinced me that he was a class act – someone who possesses a capacity for some important form of leadership. The main point is, however, that he establishes a link between carbon-dioxide emissions (much of them American in origin) and a soon-to-be-superheated Earth.

Gore has honed his arguments over many years of lecturing. Fact after fact is presented. Counter arguments are considered and answered. It is exhaustive and relentless. It’s based on something as simple as a slide show. The film’s director Davis Guggenheim has put his camera crew in front of Gore on one of his marathon lecture tours as he bombarded his audience with scientific research and damning photos. Receding glaciers, collapsing ice sheets, cataclysmic flooding, droughts just nearby and Carbon-dioxide levels that soar above anything in the ice-bore record going back 650,000 years.

An Inconvenient Truth will probably make you admire Al Gore a little more, worry about the planet a lot more than you already do, and finally, leave you wondering if we are doing enough, soon enough to make a difference.


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