Movie Preview: "Age of Stupid" - So Is We, Or Isn't We?

I've just viewed Wall•E, that precocious Disney/Pixar look at a future in which the robots are smart while the humans are fat blobs of over-pampered flesh unable to live on the (literally) trashed Earth. Other family members were mollified by the happy ending, but I never believed the captain could walk on those fat feet or the humans survive on their lame attempts at agriculture. So I'll need a few weeks before I'll be ready for Age of Stupid, a mixed documentary-animation where a fictional archivist in 2050 looks back to wonder why we humans were too stupid to collectively tackle climate change in time.

Filming of Age of Stupid photo

Pete Postlethwaite in the studio to film his role as archivist - via Age of Stupid.

Age of Stupid's director Franny Armstrong (previously she directed McLibel about the hardy souls that took on McDonald's) is hoping that her film will convert more people from bystander status to climate activists than, say, An Inconvenient Truth.

How will she do this? Well, from the trailers and the title, it appears Armstrong will be using the stick, rather than the carrot, approach. She tells six interweaving human sagas - from a young woman in Nigeria held hostage, in a sense, to the world's thirst for oil, to an 80-year-old environmental activist watching the glaciers melt in the Alps - with an overlay of narration by actor Pete Postlethwaite as the archivist looking back from the year 2050 to figure out why we failed to save ourselves.

Armstrong took over six years to make this film, which she says started off as a simple documentary. Lacking funds, she used a "participatory funding" structure - in other words, she got lots and lots of people to invest small amounts of £500 pounds each to help her get the film made. From the start, Armstrong wanted a film that could make it at the "metroplex" as she describes it - a climate change blockbuster. She is cognizant that critics will latch onto the fact that making films is not a CO2-free endeavor.

"It's the old 'you've got to break eggs to make an omelette' argument, isn't it. We're on a one-way trip to complete annihilation in the next 30 years," Armstrong said in a video about the making of the film. "So obviously we, us, and all the other people who are seriously trying to turn the whole ship around are going to have to use carbon to turn the whole ship around. If we fail, we're all doomed. But if we don't even try we're also all doomed."

She estimated for the film's closing credits the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the making of Age of Stupid to be 150 tons (it turned out to be a bit closer to 100), and said she's sure that will be one of the main questions she will have to answer at various screenings.

"It's not a film to make you happy," said an early screening viewer. From watching the making of Age of Stupid that seems entirely clear. What remains to be seen is whether Age of Stupid can convince enough viewers to shake off their old habits to rally for mitigating climate change. The film is set to have a "green" premier on March 15 in the UK. Simultaneously, a Not Stupid climate activism movement will launch to get people to participate in lobbying politicians leading up to the Copenhagen climate talk in December. Via: Guardian
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