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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Climate of Change

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August 19, 2011

Movie Review Friday: Climate of Change

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

Climate of Change (2010)

Available on DVD

Though director Brian Hill's Climate of Change proudly shares production credits with An Inconvenient Truth, it feels separate from Al Gore's scientific deconstruction. Instead, this documentary takes a familiar notion — that seemingly insignificant personal choices can actually have broad effects — and uses it to weave together human stories about curbing climate change.

The film opens with two eloquent schoolchildren from India discussing their environmental group, Tarumitra. Without a shred of naiveté (well, except when one child wants to be a doctor "for the free time"), they talk frankly about what needs to be done to save the planet and how they can accomplish it. As the film deftly transitions from India to West Virginia, Togo, Papua New Guinea, and London, this same thread weaves through each encounter. Every time, the message is the same: Saving Earth requires your effort, so quit griping and get involved.

Thanks to each story's strength, the film never feels like it's beating a dead horse. Primarily due to Hill's smart editing, it doesn't feel like a bare-bones series of profiles either. Take the story of Sep, the Papua New Guinea tribesman: After we see his pain-stricken face and hear his laments as a carefully selected tree is cut down for his tribe's livelihood, a shot of a woman pulling a cigarette from its pack in a commercially logged wasteland briefly flashes onscreen.

Aside from the compelling tales of individual action, much of the film's emotional weight rests on Tilda Swinton's hypnotic recitation of Simon Armitage's prose. Though the narration sometimes borders on melodramatic (a mining explosion "shakes the skulls of ancestors out of their graves"), it lends an artistic air that juxtaposes nicely with Hill's interviews.

The film makes a strong case for the role of individuals in saving the planet. Especially for young people who can relate to Tarumitra's brilliant founders, this documentary is a powerful call to act.

--Colin Griffin

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