Al Gore as Himself
An Update with Former Vice-President Al Gore
The Making of “An Inconvenient Truth”
“I Need To Wake Up” Music Video by Melissa Ethridge
Commentary by Director Davis Guggenheim
Commentary by Producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns and Lesley Chilcott
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 96 Minutes
The following is from the DVD cover:
“Former Vice President Al Gore presents an eye-opening and compelling view of the future of our planet – and our civilization – in the Must-See documentary of the year. This is a wake-up call that cuts through myths and misconceptions to deliver the message that global warming is a real and present danger. ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ brings home Gore’s persuasive argument that we must act now to save the earth. Each and every one of us can make changes in the way in which we live our lives and Become Part of the Solution.”
“An Inconvenient Truth” is rated PG for mild thematic elements.
I’d better lay my cards on the table before reviewing this film. I didn’t vote for Al Gore. I don’t like the Democrats or Republicans, but I vote Republican because of their stance on a few key issues. In my day job I work for a major oil company designing offshore oil rigs. Despite this, I’m very much in favor of finding alternatives to oil, ending dependence on Middle East oil, and cleaning the air and the environment. I see a big, brown haze over my city of Houston and I want it gone for my kids and grandchildren. And though I believe global warming is within the realm of possibility, I haven’t seen many arguments that make me believe the world is going to end in an apocalyptic weather disaster. So that’s the mindset I went into this film with.
“An Inconvenient Truth” had a LOT of hype behind it. I mean, the trailers stated that if I loved my children, I should watch this movie. (If you think I’m kidding, go watch the trailer.) With so much hype and buzz, I was hoping that the film would lay out a well thought out, logical, irrefutable presentation on global warming. What I found was anything but this. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst made documentaries I’ve ever seen. Here’s why.
Exhibit A: Within the first 5 minutes of this film, Al Gore starts taking potshots at Republicans and the Bush administration. If Gore and the film creators really and truly were interested in rallying people to their cause, they wouldn’t alienate half their audience in the opening minutes. Do you really win people to your cause by calling them idiots?
Exhibit B: Over a third of this movie is a biography of Al Gore. We hear about his childhood, his life’s traumas, and an unnecessarily long piece on the contested election. Why does there need to be footage of Floridians counting hanging chads in a movie about global warming? It smells of sour grapes and distracts from the real message of global warming. The final product seems to be more of an Al Gore pep rally than a global wake-up call. Gore distracts from the message by putting himself in the spotlight.
Exhibit C: This movie is nothing but Al Gore talking. He is the one throwing bar graphs on the screen that would make USA Today proud, but not once does an actual scientist appear in the movie and back up Al Gore’s claims. None of the bar graphs show how or where the data was recorded. Al keeps telling us about his scientist friends and what they’ve told him, but we hear nothing from the people themselves. Instead we see photos of them standing next to melting glaciers and hear stories about Gore’s field trips to the North and South Poles. Gore even shows a clip from “Futurama” to make his point. As much as I love “Futurama,” it didn’t seem very professional to use.
Exhibit D: “An Inconvenient Truth” never really discusses the opposing viewpoints in the debate. Once or twice they acknowledge differing viewpoints, but rather than addressing them and picking them apart with hard data, Gore scoffs at the theories and those believing them and moves on to his next slide. A truly compelling argument would address those opposing viewpoints and shoot them down.
Exhibit E: I really have to question some of the claims Gore presented. For example, he uses Hurricane Katrina as an example of how global warming is causing bigger and badder hurricanes. Well, actually, New Orleans handled the hurricane just fine and it wasn’t any worse than other recent hurricanes. It was their crappy levees and their corrupt Louisiana politicians that refused to upgrade the levees that caused the city to flood. Gore also attributes the ebola virus, avian flu, SARS, and other hyped diseases to global warming, too. I’d seriously question those sweeping claims. He even goes so far as to show an extinct dodo and imply that its extinction was due to global warming. It was absurd. To further foment fear, Gore shows the World Trade Center site and what it would look like as sea levels rose. It was a silly psychological maneuver to associate fear of terrorists to global warming.
I think I’ve made my point. I was hoping that “An Inconvenient Truth” would present a mind-changing, compelling, logical discussion of global warming. Instead what I found was a film made by Democrats for Democrats with the express purpose of spinning data to further a political agenda.
On a final note, I have to mention that this DVD arrived in a recycled paper envelope that, when buried, grew basil. It was a nice gesture, but when the DVD arrived the envelope was falling apart. It looked like a tank, a herd of elephants (Republicans?), and an 18 wheeler had run over it. The DVD was also in a plastic sleeve in an attempt to save plastic. I’m sure the creators had great intentions, but ultimately it was an ineffective effort. Maybe they’re trying to offset all the jet fuel Gore uses flying private planes to speaking engagements.
There are a handful of bonus features included on this DVD. There are two different commentaries, neither of which feature Gore himself. They are just with the director and producers. There’s also a music video with Melissa Ethridge and a ‘making of’ documentary showing the logistics behind filming the documentary. Finally, there’s a half hour long update with Al Gore discussing everything that’s happened since the film was released. Gore discusses ocean temperatures, overpopulation, ocean acidity, hurricanes, and other stuff. More questionably, he discusses wildfires and how they’re evidence of global warming. It’s just more of the same from the movie.
The Bottom Line:
In the end, if you strip away the political hype, all you’re left with is a quite shallow documentary that doesn’t make a very effective argument. If you’re really interested in global warming, stick to the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and other sources that will delve more into hard data and steer clear of political agendas.