DVD Review: An Inconvenient Truth
Release Date: November 21, 2006
· Davis Guggenheim
· Al Gore
by Chad Maddux
Published: November 22, 2006
I am a Republican. I have never voted for a Democrat. However, I am also an environmentalist. I side with the "liberal" stance on most environmental issues. I conserve energy. I recycle everything that my local recycling center accepts (including a few things that I have to ship away to a recycling center).
In preparing to review this film, I knew I would be conflicted. Should political themes prevail in the film, I would likely review the film accordingly. If the film avoided politics, my review would probably be quite different.
So, what happened? Well...
As expected, the film features a significant amount of graphs and charts, numbers and data. However, for the most part, this information was interesting although it's accuracy is difficult to gauge. Al Gore is, after all, a politician...and a Democrat. Al Gore is, essentially, the only person who speaks in the film. Therefore, your ability to believe the information is entirely dependent on your ability to believe Al Gore.
For the majority of the film, Al Gore is giving a presentation to the same audience with a massive presentation screen behind him. Mixed in with his presentation are various scenes about Al Gore. The film presents scenes from his childhood, his family life, his political life, and his life in general. Is this a film about global warming or Al Gore? I'll answer that a little later.
The film used visual images in attempt to solidify the data. However, some of the pictures used appeared to present inaccurate information. There were many "before-and-after" pictures to show how certain areas looked then and now, usually involving snow or ice. What stood out to me is that the "before" photos appeared to have been taken in the cold of winter while the "after" photos appeared to be from the warmer summer. Not surprisingly, I would expect there to be less snow and ice in the summer than in the winter.
The film takes hypothetical situations to a new degree. There are many possible scenarios that could happen but, then again, there was little scientific theory to support these projections. There was talk of scientists and various studies but it remained just that: talk. One projection surrounded the loss of Greenland and the accompanying rise in ocean levels. To illustrate his point, Gore used the World Trade Center site to show that global warming could possibly flood that site and destroy whatever memorial is built. I'm sure Gore was trying for a strong emotional response. The World Trade Center interjection was wholly unnecessary. It was distasteful and disgustingly without merit.
What surprised me most about the film is that the majority of the time was spent talking about how bad global warming is (and how wonderful Gore is). Only in the final 10 minutes did anything about a solution start to appear. While the final credits rolled, various environmentally-friendly suggestions were presented. To me, understanding the solution is much more important than understanding the problem. Granted, you must understand the problem to understand the solution. However, if you spend all of your time explaining the problem and little time explaining the solution, you aren't accomplishing much.
Overall, simply put, it's good. The human effect on Earth is profound although it seems exaggerated in this film. As someone who actively conserves energy and recycles, the film's intended purpose is refreshing. However, Al Gore's life and accomplishments could have been omitted, or perhaps should have been omitted. The fact that his son was hit by a car when he was 6 is irrelevant. And, of course, the fact that Al Gore was the "former next president" was also unnecessary. He opened his presentation with that line, alluding to his failed presidential bid in 2000. Despite the problems, the film does a very good job of informing. At just over 90 minutes long, it's long enough without being dull.
There are five bonus features included with this release. There are two commentary tracks, an "update" with Gore, a "Making of" segment and a Melissa Etheridge music video. The commentary tracks were rather dull, and I certainly didn't need to hear more from Al Gore. The music video was odd, given the topic. And the "Making of" segment was...well, awkward. The film is more of a documentary of Al Gore so a documentary about making a documentary is...you get the idea.
The film's case is intriguing enough to mention. It's wrapped in an environmentally-friendly plastic. The case is made from 100% recycled material and features no plastic shell. Inside are ten things everyone can do to help stop global warming. (Of the ten listed, I already actively do five of them.) On the other side of the case where the disc is held is something I've never seen before. It's an encouragement to share your disc with others. It encourages you to "watch it, share it, donate it." The case is very thin and contains no insert, a departure from the ever-expanding bulk of most DVD releases.
It's hard to recommend a film like this for so many reasons. It's also hard not to recommend it. For all of its flaws, the message is still important. However, many will ignore the message because it's presented by Al Gore. Those people who would enjoy the film are similar to me, already interested in environmental activities. Unfortunately, those who should see the film are not likely to enjoy it. It's a perplexing conundrum.
Since this film is definitely political, I'm going to take the political stance: I'm not recommending it but I'm not suggesting you avoid it either.