Al Gore as Himself
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
Writing this movie off as “the Al Gore documentary” would be a bit of a misnomer since it’s not really about the former Vice President, as much as about the various ways that Global Warming is slowly destroying our earth, some of the worst case scenarios involving destruction on the scale of Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow. For many years, Gore spent time with various scientists and geologists researching this phenomenon after first learning about the problem from his college professor. Since then, it’s been a key concern for Gore during his political days, as he presented the information he compiled to worldwide audiences using a slide show comprised of pictures, charts and animated graphics.
For those living in a cave, global warming is the effect of chemicals in the ozone layer, which prevent the sun’s rays from escaping our atmosphere, making the earth’s temperature progressively warmer each year. Because of this, glaciers all over the world are melting, leading to the type of freakish weather disasters we’ve seen in the past few years. Of course, the devastation from the rampant hurricanes last year and the tsunami in Southeast Asia gives Gore even more ammo with which he can prove his theories. Watching recreations of California, New York City and other heavily populated areas covered in water is even more effective at getting Gore’s point across. (Of course, in his reality, Florida would probably be the first to go.)
In some ways, it would be a bit condescending to assume people aren’t aware of the dangers to our environment, but this movie makes it abundantly clear how serious the situation really is. It’s a lot of facts and data to digest for those who have trouble concentrating, but the risks of Gore’s lecture being preachy or pandering are countered by the surprising amount of charm and personality he displays while sharing the information. It’s the spoonful of sugar that helps make this very important medicine go down.
As effective as the film is at explaining global warming and its effects in a way that a layman can understand, it does just as good a job getting inside the head of the former Vice President and making him seem more sympathetic and human. Gore’s slide show is interspersed with personal musings about tragic events from his past, including a car accident that almost killed his young son and his feelings after the losing the 2000 election. Whether in front of an audience or not, Gore seems very down-to-earth and personable, especially in a scene where he walks through an airport without any sort of security detail.
The movie isn’t as political as one might think, at least at first. Gore doesn’t take the easy route by using the devastation to point fingers or bash the current regime, but by the end of the movie, it’s all too obvious that this very serious issue won’t improve as long as it’s being swept under the carpet in favor of dealing with other issues, like terrorism.
My only real gripe about the movie is that it doesn’t spend nearly as much time discussing the ways people can fix the problem as it does describing the problem and its effects. A lot of what we’re shown is so shocking that most people will want to know what they can do to try to help fix the problem. Those who feel this way will have to stick through the closing credits, which are cleverly juxtaposed with a few suggestions for doing our part.
The more cynical will see this film as a prologue to another go by Gore at the White House, presumably on an environmental platform, and it’s pretty clear that if Gore won that fateful 2000 election, he would have been our smartest President in decades. On the flip side of that coin, the dumber alternative we ended up with just makes it obvious how few people will heed the movie’s warning and try to do something about it.
The Bottom Line:
More information on the movie, the corresponding book and the issues discussed in the movie can be found at ClimateCrisis.net.