That first movie "2012" was fairly dramatic and yet pretty much only scary until you exited the multiplex. It was just far-fetched enough to make you think it would never happen. Though playing off a similar idea - that some type of catastrophic showdown is coming our way at the end of the current Mayan calendar in December 2012 - this new movie "2012: Time for Change" is actually an animated documentary that takes a positive spin on our joint ecological predicament - positing that an evolution of human consciousness could get us back in tune with nature and make humans more able to be positive stewards rather than wanton destroyers of our world.
Daniel Pinchbeck, the executive producer and author of the 2006 book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, starts the film detailing his quest to shake free of a depression that dogged him in his late 20s when his disconnection from current culture caused him to become despondent.
One way Pinchbeck sought to connect to a higher wisdom was by visiting and participating in initiation rites and psychedelic drug rituals with tribes such as the Bwiti cult in Gabon - Pinchbeck also interviews Sting in the film about the singer's psychedelic experience taking the hallucigenic Ayahuasca in Brazil. One of Pinchbeck's heroes, Terence McKenna, also champions the idea of psychedelic drugs as one way to get people to expand their consciousness in a short period of time.
But the film doesn't really look to drugs to solve our modern ecological dilemma. Instead, Pinchbeck splices archival footage of Buckminster Fuller and his ideas with interviews with futurists such as Barbara Mark Hubbard and Richard Register, mycologist Paul Stamets and water rights activist Maude Barlow, as well as Sting, David Lynch, and actress Ellen Page. It's kind of a weird mishmash, but it works pretty well for me, and here's why.
The green "movement" has had to rely on a lot of gloom and doom messaging to try to communicate some of the big problems we face, and with somewhat limited success at sparking deep and lasting change.Somehow, it seems, we are waiting for the technological silver bullets to get us out of the mess we're in. Pinchbeck yokes the techno-prowess to an expansion of consciousness each one of us must undergo - whether through inner quest or simply outer positive action. He also seems to imply that the same interconnection and social networking that the Internet has wrought will serve us well when push comes to shove, whether that's in 2012 or some other future date (like tomorrow, maybe?)
That's a message we need to hear more of, as it brings back personal responsibility to the mix as well as emphasizes community, and suggests all of us have a role in our own, and the planet's, salvation.
The effect is to clear the clouds of "nothing I do really matters," if only temporarily. There's no one-size-fits-all solution by the end of the movie, yet there is the lingering sensation lots of people are working on pieces, and that we actually are all in this together.
And seeing Sting says he's a "self-declared, card carrying tree hugger" makes up for some of the slightly weird moments of the film - such as a segment that sugested the moment of the jury decision in O.J. Simpson's murder trial was a moment of shared global consciousness.
"2012: Time for Change" is by no means perfect, but rather than just leaving you feeling blue, as some of the recent spate of documentaries have done for me, it just could reinvigorate your personal quest for being green, whatever forms it might take.