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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Earth Days

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August 21, 2009

Movie Review Friday: Earth Days

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Earth Days (2009)

Now playing in select cities

It’s easy to pull at heartstrings with B-roll of century-old trees collapsing behind chainsaws. But Earth Days moves beyond (though still includes) the cliché footage of a typical environmentalism film. The documentary provides an intelligent look at the history of the green movement through the voices of authors, politicians, activists, conservationists, even an astronaut—all of whom had a hand in taking green mainstream.

The narrative picks up where the Great Depression left off—the birth of American consumerism—and addresses nuclear power, Rachel Carson’s concerns, destroyed habitats, and overpopulation. These separate buds of environmentalism finally united around the first Earth Day in 1970.

After that, environmental interests started winning important victories. The EPA was created. Clean water, air, and endangered species acts passed in Congress. And President Carter, in an forward-thinking gesture, installed solar water-heating panels at the White House in 1979. But there was opposition: President Reagan, for instance, removed those panels in 1986.

Earth Days is not about Earth Day. It’s about the push to make Earth Day every day (thus the plural). And it's less a celebration of '60s counterculture than it is a straight-faced, PBS-style chronicle of rise of the environmental movement. Falling trees and all.

--Sarah F. Kessler

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