An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

July 18, 2017

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"For those who understand the threat of climate change, this will be a timely reminder of its ever important place in contemporary society..."
inconvenient sequel

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Lochley Shaddock
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Director: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
Cast:

Al Gore

Distributor: Paramount
Released: August 10, 2017
Running Time: 98 minutes
Worth: $17.00

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For those who understand the threat of climate change, this will be a timely reminder of its ever important place in contemporary society…

Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, had been considered ground breaking within the discourse surrounding climate change and climate awareness, and the critical mass it gained played a monumental role in cementing climate change as one of the pivotal issues facing humanity in the 21st century. 11 years later, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power attempts to reignite that flame, as there is still much to be done.

The documentary opens with the dripping of glaciers, melting under the sweltering sun, as soundbites from various climate deniers play over these tragic and dooming images. “You don’t watch a film by Joseph Goebbels for the truth on Nazism and you don’t watch a documentary by Al Gore for the truth on climate change,” says one commentator. Great ice caps begin to literally explode from the heat, falling in great avalanches into the ocean. It is clear that apathy towards climate change simply isn’t good enough.

Soon, we’re in familiar territory, for those who have seen the original documentary, as Al Gore stands before an audience of “climate trainees,” people who are undertaking his classes so they can have the knowledge and research to back up their subsequent spread of climate awareness. Damning statistics are shown in layman’s terms, highlighting the continual heating of the planet due to carbon house gas emissions. But soon, the documentary becomes biographical. We’re treated to some insights into the personal life of Al Gore; the successes and failures of his attempts to rectify climate awareness.

From here, the documentary switches between personal biography and investigation into the contemporary effects of climate change. What works within the latter passages is that the documentary acts as a powerful synthesis for what we all know, but sometimes lack the ability to truly “see.” Having one colossal environmental disaster after another played in rapid succession drives home the most obvious contemporary effects of global warming and the dangers it can cause right now. Sometimes, as a society, particularly in our fast-paced, social-media-heavy present, we struggle to see the bigger picture. Other powerful sequences depict the power of renewable energies, as some cities in America have already gone 100% renewable to great effect.

One of the longest biographical passages in the documentary comes in the second half of the film, depicting Al Gore’s instrumental role in ratifying the Paris Accords that President Donald Trump has since swiftly thwarted in America. The point of this sequence could be assumed that Al Gore means to highlight our need to strive forth, despite whatever obstacles stand in our way, to combat climate change. It is not international governments’ sole responsibility, but very much ours as a society, at a grassroots level, to address this burgeoning issue.

However, those who Al Gore references at the beginning of his documentary, those that believe his documentaries to be egocentric propaganda to build up his own importance, will likely roll their eyes through the sequences where Al Gore saves the day at the Paris Accords (if they see it at all). Nor does this documentary spend the time its predecessor did on the actual science, framing climate change, many times, as being self-evidently true. And it probably should be self-evident, but the fact that someone such as the President of America can still consider it a hoax compounds the dangers of this thought process.

For those who understand the threat of climate change, this will be a timely reminder of its ever important place in contemporary society, as it depicts plentiful powerful examples of its chaotic power that will linger with you after the film ends. But for those who do not believe, this documentary may further push the divide, as perhaps too much time is spent on the man behind the campaign and not the campaign itself.

Lochley Shaddock is a novelist, essayist, film critic and screenwriter/director

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