Sunday, December 17, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim, 2006)

Have you ever wondered how different our world could've been if Al Gore became president of the United States instead of George W. Bush? Would the twin towers of the World Trade Center still exist today instead of an empty memorial grounds to an unfortunate tragedy? Will Afghanistan and Iraq still be self-governing sovereign nations? Will we be treated with uncomfortable suspicion by every establishment, airports to be more exact? Would there be a discomforting and highly rationalized form of racism against Arabic and Muslim individuals? An answer to those hypothetical questions might be an unsure "yes," (of course, depending on one's political leanings, or to a certain extent, I.Q. level). But for sure, those questions would yield an answer --- those questions are of the political domain, and a change in the leadership of the world's most powerful nation would have such drastic changes (at least in an alternate universe wherein Gore is president).

Now let's change the line of questions: Would we experience a grave change of climate and weather? Would Hurricane Katrina have the same disastrous effects, to the point of almost eliminating New Orleans from the map? Would shoreline cities and third world nations in Asia suffer severe floods and treacherous typhoons? You might reply those line of questions with a raised eyebrow. It's almost logically unfair to commit such disasters to the Bush administration; yet upon watching Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth, a connection between the natural and the political become distinct and clear. Here is Al Gore, who in the past have fought for the environment with every bit of political power he has garnered, and upon losing the presidency to Bush, has traveled the world with his hi-tech power point presentation about the truths and dangers of global warming. Here is a man who has a clear and unadulterated perspective in what politics should stand for. On the other side of the fence is Bush, who was fed, clothed, and was funded by oil; and upon winning the presidency, has traveled the world looking for more oil, and destroying governments and notions of fair play along the way. The second line of questions is suddenly provided with an answer similar to the first --- a possible "yes," depending on one's political leaning, and even more so, on one's I.Q. level. Our world would've been a very different place if the United States had Gore instead of Bush, as president --- on a hypothetical level.

The forced idea of what could've happened if Gore won is just one of the aches that the viewer would feel when watching An Inconvenient Truth. The other is more visceral, the entire topic of Gore's presentation: the realities and short term effects of the present level of global warming. Al Gore makes use of a lot of numbers and graphs; most of which I did not quite understood initially. They do sound scary and the graphs are visual indicators for alarm and discomfort. Gore is such a convincing speaker that it is almost impossible to doubt whatever he's saying; he has a whole army of pieces of evidence to back up his advocacy --- photographs, studies, maps. And it's not all serious stuff as Gore manages to make the bitter pill more palatable by using animation, jokes, anecdotes, and a surprising sense of showmanship.

An Inconvenient Truth isn't only about global warming as dictated with gusto by Al Gore. Guggenheim interrupts Gore's power point presentation with Gore's own reflections on the present state of our environment, and his own recollections of very personal portions of the public figure's life. I thought that proved to be an effective tool to give credibility to the personality speaking (by showing that he has a stake at the future of the world: the near death experience of his son gave him the prime motivation for his right to live) and a welcome relaxation to the uncontrollable stiff presentation of hard-hitting facts and theories. With that, the film flows much livelier; a visible heart is fathomed from the rather dismaying topic. The human side of Gore forces us to look at what's at stake for us, and we start realizing that there indeed is much in store for us if we force ourselves to close our minds to the truth. Human logic dictates that action be done; it's just quite sad that logic is often blurred by the temptations of gold: black or otherwise.

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