Director: Davis Guggenheim,
Watched in: Theater,
There are actually two inconvenient truths in An Inconvenient Truth. The first truth is stark and unavoidable: the devastating effects of global warming are accelerating even faster than we want to believe, so fast that in 50 years floods may kill millions of people around the world and create millions more refugees, while corrupt politicians are more concerned with starting wars based on lies, securing the profits of General Motors and Haliburton, and making the United States safe from gay weddings. The second truth is more subtle, and to the easily distracted mainstream media, still debatable: if the 2000 election was not stolen from Al Gore, and the voters who picked him, then he would have probably paid attention to the memo that said Osama bin Laden was determined to attack inside the US and Sept.11th, the war in Iraq, illegal wiretapping, secret torture, and the anti-gay marraige amendent would be nothing but fictions in a Scooter Libby bodice-ripper. That’s a lot of truth for a documentary that is essentially an artfully filmed power point presentation. But it shows you how powerful, and deeply depressing, the truth can be. That’s why America’s gated community of politicians finds it easier to make stuff up.
No matter what you think of Al Gore—his drone, his dry as dust wit, his stiff, serious, senior thesis approach to his material—you know he’s not making any of it up, and that’s why An Inconvenient Truth should be required viewing for every middle and high school student in the country. And maybe when it comes out on DVD in the fall, it will be. With an earnestness that is at times heartbreaking, and with a likeable command of easy-to-digest facts and pictures a click away, this movie is both a wake-up call to the world and a touching profile of a politician who really, really did want to do good things, but he was nearly destroyed by that goodness.
Some critics are skewering Gore in all of his usual soft spots: pointing out that he had 8 years to do something about global warming and instead he made deals with carmakers and logging outfits; calling him exploitive for using stories about his son’s car accident and his sister’s death from lung cancer to justify his mission; chewing over the same old chestnuts about Gore’s oily sincerity; and pointing out that all of the facts and charts he displays are old information. Much of those accusations may be true, with lots of qualifiers and a few exclamations of “yes, but”, but isn’t it better that Gore made a motion picture, with the potential to reach millions of people, that condenses the most potent and pressing issue of our time into a hundred riveting minutes, than travel around the country on the taxpayer dime giving folksy talks about prescription drugs?
At least he’s trying, folks, in his own soft-sell, condescending way, to save the world, rather than destroy it.
An Inconvenient Truth will very likely anger you, and it will make you ashamed of your own country, and you will walk out with a refreshed despair at the last 6 years in the history of America. But let’s not kill the message of the film because the messenger let us down in 2000. An Inconvenient Truth replays the moment when Gore conceded the presidency to the thieves who now run things, and it will likely depress you more than any amount of melting of the Antarctic ice shelf.