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The Age of Stupid

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Caffeinated Clint
@http://www.twitter.com/clintmoviehole

Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

By Ashley Hillard

This documentary covers material that ”Inconvenient Truth” dealt with, but from a personal rather than scientific aspect. This take both helps and hurts the film. The scientific information would have added credibility to the filmmaker’s stance on climate change being directly affected by humans whereas the personal stories set it apart from ”Inconvenient Truth”, but don’t necessarily lend credibility against skeptics’ viewpoints.

Director Franny Armstrong (”McLibel”) set out to make a movie that is truly independent, financed by over 200 people, in the hopes that the documentary would be unaffected by studios and productions companies restrictions on distribution. In this respect, The Age of Stupid succeeds by bringing a very real problem to the masses, with the support of eco-friendly celebrities such as Thom Yorke of Radiohead to bring attention to the project.

For me, this documentary was preaching to the choir, but those that are not convinced of what human caused green house gasses are doing to the environment possibly won’t get the sense of urgency that the film is trying to get across. Narrator Pete Postlethwaite (”The Last of the Mohicans”) plays an archivist in 2055, when Earth is on a path to destruction as there is no way to undo the climate change pattern caused by pollution in the preceding decades. Postlethwaite moves the film from story to story as he ponders why no one did anything to stop pollution when there was still time to turn things around. Without statistics to scare people into taking action, the documentary loses some of its bite.

In a post screening Q & A Armstrong explains that ”The Age of Stupid” was almost done when ”Inconvenient Truth” came out, which allowed her to cut out the scientific information that was previously included in the film. Though the film makes a strong case for new technologies, such as wind power, and shows the stupid people that are afraid of change and slowing progress, it is lacking the scientific evidence and overall sense of “here’s a solution.” Armstrong says she didn’t want to point to a specific solution as it will take different technologies to help the world wean itself off of oil, which is fine if she focused more on what people can do to turn things around.

An environmental summit is coming up in Copenhagen and Armstrong feels that the UK’s solution for stopping climate change is the best as it requires all nations to balance their energy usage, with countries like China and India increasing theirs and the U.S. and UK reducing their energy consumption. Apparently during the last summit, the U.S. and Australia were the only two countries not willing to agree to similar terms.

”The Age of Stupid” is a remarkable documentary that does not seem overtly slanted, allowing audience members to form their own opinions on some level. With such an open ended conclusion, though and a lack of focus on solutions to the problem, it is hard to say that this documentary got the point across that people need to act now to stop climate change. I applaud the effort, however, and people should support this film as both an environmental and independent film.

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