A Canadian environmental activist-turned-filmmaker sets out on an ambitious and passionate quest to change the world – truly. A journey that began years ago documenting the peril of sharks in the wild expands, tracking the erosion of coral reefs, deforestation, and the black scar of the Alberta Oil Sands project. The globe-spanning documentary culminates in Mexico during a world environmental summit, where protestors clash with organizers, and a message of sustainability and hope is voiced.
Who’s in It?
Rob Stewart, the Canadian filmmaker behind the acclaimed documentary Sharkwater, returns for this much anticipated follow-up. Of note, one of the most compelling interviews is with a charming bespectacled activist who can’t be more than 13-years old and is wise beyond his years. Also featuring a breakthrough performance from the Flamboyant Cuttlefish. Seriously.
George Carlin once joked that the planet is fine – it’s the people that are in trouble (he used a different term). This notion drives Rob Stewart’s illuminating, unnerving, and quixotic documentary about the need for environmental activism around the world. The subtitle, in fact, is Save the Humans. Stewart notes the acidification of oceans, the disturbing dead zones underwater where no life exists, the destruction of habitats in Madagascar, and the desperate cyclic rise and fall of predators and prey in North America, all with stunning visuals. It isn’t until he addresses the human issue that things become especially serious.
Stewart is in the unenviable position of fighting for a cause that needs individual, local, federal, and international efforts all at once. It’s a cause used as a political tool, though, and one that challenges business and the economic livelihood of some. It’s also a tough task to capture all this in a 90 minute film.
His narration is simple and straightforward, welcoming and honest (he is not a lecturer, unlike some environmental documentarians, you know who you are). You can hear in his voice though a bit of desperation; he is so passionate about the subject, and so serious about the consequences, that he knows the only way to achieve change is to welcome everyone to the cause in a nonthreatening way, educating without condescending, and showing that not just flora and fauna are in trouble, but humans too.
It’s odd considering the title is called ‘revolution,’ which often though not always entails violence. While the first half of the film explores dying or dead environments around the world, sadly, the second half takes a decidedly aggressive turn before eases up for a hopeful ending. Stewart assails the Canadian government for its terrible environmental record –last in the world—and the Tar Sands project, before heading south for a climate change conference.
Stewart may not be the best filmmaker from a story-telling perspective, occasionally jumping around and changing tones suddenly, but the visuals he captures underwater are spectacular, and his message is clear, important, and more hopefully in the nick of time.
Should You See It?
See it, talk about it, and do something.
Seychelles delegate at Climate Change Conference: “Reason won’t do it, logic won’t do it. What sort of calamity has to happen? Our worry is that when that happens, it’s too late.”
That’s a powerful quote, but this one is pretty special too, in a very different way. An awful security woman tries to break up a protest, and comes across our aforementioned glasses-wearing hero-kid activist. Awful Woman shrieks: “Where is this child’s mother?! You’re all creating an unsafe environment for him!”
I suppose she is right.