Archive for June, 2009


Review: HOME

June 11, 2009

Ten years. That’s what Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s non-profit documentary HOME wants us to think about; the next ten years and how we behave as a species during them. Glenn Close presents the argument with dramatic narration and details all the things we might lose if we don’t radically alter the way we live. Meanwhile, we’re treated to sweeping, Attenborough-esque shots of melting glaciers and majestic rainforests and reminded that they all have a role to play in the balance of our planet. More significantly, we’re reminded of the changes we’ve already caused in our ecosystem; a gentle admonition that we’ve already overfished most of our oceans (supported by a new study that estimates by 2048 there will be no more seafood), that the tar sands in Canada waste unimaginable amounts of water to feed a stubborn U.S. oil addiction and that our meat-rich diet is causing half the world’s grain to become animal feed while over a billion starve. “Entire forests turned into meat” as the film puts it. As far as simple mathematics is concerned, this arrangement is not sustainable. Common sense however, needs a reminder.

Now, we’ve all seen movies like this before. An Inconvenient Truth brought the message of climate change to an unprecedented number of people and was quickly followed by imitators. So why do we need another one? Well, it’s all to do with human psychology, namely Parkinson’s Law, which states that a workload will adjust based on the amount of time given to complete it. If we have ten years to clean up our act, Parkinson’s Law says we’ll use every second of it. Unfortunately, this probably means debating international trade deals and finger-pointing in politcal theaters for nine years followed by a mad scramble to save our planet at the zero hour. How perfectly Hollywood of us. We need movies like HOME to remind us (again!) that we all need to be aware of what’s happening and not wait for governments to fix it. We need to be propagandized for the cause. It sounds ugly but we’re simply not moving fast enough on our own.  The answer to our global problem will require sacrifice, but the earlier we start, the smaller the sacrifice. There are hundreds of thousands of resources online to help you figure out how to live greener. I, for one, have not owned a car since 2005 and I recycle and yet that’s not enough anymore either. After watching HOME, I’ll be taking my activism to the grocery store and looking for sustainable produce and joining rallies geared towards stopping the Tar Sands Project. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was to see a climate documentary finally expose this abominable practice which can now be seen from outer space. Great Canadian North indeed!

HOME is careful not to prognosticate terror and doom if we aren’t successful in reversing our practices. This is not Earth 2100 or some other sensational bit of mockumentary spectacle. Glenn Close simply tells us that science cannot predict the changes that will occur if all the methane living in the ground safely under vast ice sheets is released, if all the fresh water in Greenland melts into the salty sea, if coastal cities see a seven meter rise in water levels. The scariest things are truly what we imagine. Personally, I imagine massive displacement, starvation, water wars and the potential for a huge chunk of our planet to lose its ability to support life. We all know how well people behave during crisis (Katrina anyone?), which leaves me to believe that it’s not our planet that is at stake, but us and our humanity. HOME’s most impressive persuasion comes when it reminds us how little of our planet’s history even involves us and how quickly we can cease to be a part of it. Just like, say, dinosaurs.

I would quickly like to mention the importance of this film being released for free on YouTube until June 14. This film is free. That’s how important it is to the filmmakers that you see it. 217 days of incredibly difficult shooting in 54 countries done just for you to see this film. Surely we all have an hour and a half to reciprocate with. YouTube has taken a huge step towards offering original, feature-length content on your computer, which is what we’ve all known for years would happen. That it starts with this beautiful, thoughtful film is enough to help renew my faith in a global, green revolution. At some point, I will write a post about new models for distribution and why pirates will always be one step ahead but for now I’m just gonna enjoy the baby steps we’re taking towards a brave new world.