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Movie Recommendation: "What a Way to Go: life at the end of empire"

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:15 AM
Original message
Movie Recommendation: "What a Way to Go: life at the end of empire"
I'm stunned. Gobsmacked. Bloooown Awaaay!

I've spent the last three years investigating the terminal problems of our age: peak oil, climate change,economic collapse, population growth, ecological and human die-off. I've painstakingly built up a narrative of civilization in which all of these interlock logically, with a denouement that is at first terrifyingly apocalyptic and subsequently somewhat hopeful (at least for very small values of "hope"). I've devoted my web site to various musings written as I discovered what was around each new bend on the road to hell. Only recently have I been able to postulate a future development for humanity that has any positive aspects whatsoever. It has been a long and intensely painful journey from comfortable cornucopian complacency to razor-edged Damoclean awareness.

Browsing the net for new signals of doom I ran across a reference to this movie. The teaser said, "A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle."

"Huh," said I, "that has a somewhat familiar ring. It sounds like they Get It." So I ordered the DVD when it came out, and watched it last night.

Well, well, well. Boy, do they Get It.

This is a two hour, fairly low budget documentary with very high production values. They interview a whole slew of big names, from Richard Heinberg and Willian Catton to Daniel Quinn and Ran Prieur. They tell the whole story, without once looking away, without even blinking. The movie examines where we are, how we got here, and what the consequences for humanity will be. Like me, they have come to the conclusion that a die-off is inevitable, and even project the same ultimate human population - one billion people.

Up until that point in the movie I was mostly staring at the screen and nodding my head. For anyone who has been researching the condition of our modern industrial civilization for a while there is nothing new here. It's the same story of self-evident catastrophe, though told with succinctness and insight, and with a lyricism that had me smiling in admiration. Then they hit part four: "Walkabout". The contents of that part stopped me in my tracks.

They have come to the conclusion that the story of humanity through and beyond the bottleneck can only be one of personal transformation. Call it what you want; a resurgence of personal responsibility, an ethical awakening, a spiritual journey. Their position is that the circumstances of both the human and non-human worlds require such a change, and that those who make it through will be unavoidably and profoundly altered. They feel that the society that eventually emerges will be radically reshaped by the impersonal forces of constraint and reduction. Such a society will of necessity be one of much greater ecological awareness and personal interdependence than the illusion we have created for ourselves at this point.

It mirrors almost exactly the final section of my article, "Population Decline - Red Herrings and Hope". In fact, the entire movie amounts to a spell-binding two hour cinematic treatment of that article. To say I was amazed is a gross understatement. In fact it was traumatic seeing my ostensibly radical worldview confirmed so completely and unexpectedly.

Here's an excerpt from one of the reviews:

As I sat watching the film in awe, stuffing handfuls popcorn in my mouth I couldnt stop smiling at the realization that though none of this information was new to me, to someone with no understanding of these problems, someone who has stayed in denial thanks to Al Gores inconvenient lullaby and other green-washing media, this movie will no doubt cause them to curl up into a ball in the corner and sob. It may seem sadistic to so gleefully watch such a film, but for someone who has felt alone with their understanding of collapse, this movie seems a blessing; Now Ive got a movie to show Mom why I do what I do! We can only hope that once they wipe those tears away, they will feel ready to find a way out of this mess.


I cannot recommend this highly enough. Buy the DVD. Show it to everyone who will sit still for two hours. This is the whole enchilada.

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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks! I'm going to recommend this one to Netflix, too
they have their own production company, Red Envelope Productions, that makes liberal documentaries. Maybe they could work out a broader distribution deal with the creators of this DVD to get it to a wider audience.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
2. Good heavens...
That review that you cite alone makes me wonder if it celebrates despair. I'm all for waking up the masses, but I'd prefer not to send them careening over the edge in mass suicide.... :shrug:
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. That's a constantly touchy subject.
Edited on Sat Aug-18-07 10:45 AM by GliderGuider
Can (or should) a desire not to upset people ever outweigh the value of truth? I take the uncompromising position that the value of truth supersedes the risk of any negative reactions to it. After all, only if we know the truth of a situation can we respond appropriately to it. In the absence of truth we are only sheep, easy prey for the shepherds and the slaughterhouse.

People are a lot stronger than you give them credit for. Mass suicide is not the usual response to knowing the truth. Yes, people may fall into despair from it (as I have) but once you realize that there is a way out, the lifting of that despair has a lot more personal value than the continuation of your previous undisturbed slumber might have had.

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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Good answer. Denial is no relief. Finding hope and a path can be.Thanks for the review, K & R nt
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Agree that finding hope and a path is an answer, not denial
Edited on Sat Aug-18-07 11:06 AM by hlthe2b
I haven't seen the movie, but the poster's comments somewhat deriding Al Gore for perhaps being too cautious-- vis-a-vis trying to elicit positive action-- have me concerned. What good is it if people give up after hearing the truth? I think there is a balance and I hope this movie actually does that. Nonetheless, I would like to see it and will withhold opinion further pending...

edited for typos
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. I agree. Trashing other paths is not the most effective tool for hope and progress.
And I don't believe Inconvenient Truth is a lullaby either. People are in different stages of informing themselves, it does no good to deride someone else's teaching vehicle simply because you already know the lesson. Al Gore is waking a lot of people up to the point where they want to seek out movies like this one. I look forward to seeing it too.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 10:41 AM
Response to Original message
3. I ordered it after you mentioned that you had
It looked very promising from the website. I'm not sure this would be the best device to show friend and family if what you want to do is present the plain facts, however. To me, there seemed to be too much distracting filler material of 50's home movies and smiling, shrugging artist ("Wow!", she says. OK...) I believe they could have tightened up the production from its 123 minutes to a more concise one hour or so without losing any of the impact.

I was really looking forward to getting my SO to watch this and discover that the concerns I have been voicing for the last two years are valid. No such luck. I will likely donate my copy to the public library.
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Systematic Chaos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 11:06 AM
Response to Original message
7. Too broke to purchase it, sorry...
...but I'm downloading a torrent of it now. I suspect I'll watch it later today while roommate is sleeping and my wife is out to Trader Joe's. I revel in hopelessness much more than they do. :P
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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Could you point me the way to the download link? Thanks. n/t
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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
10. The Anasazi destroyed the environment they needed
Edited on Sat Aug-18-07 01:12 PM by tblue37
to survive as a people, by being irresponsible, exploitative users of their environmental resources. They nearly wiped themselves out. Those who survived their ecological catastrophe became the forebears of the Hopi and Zuni tribes, which now have a deep sense of responsible, loving, and deeply respectful stewardship for the earth and all her resources.
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Delphinus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. It *does* make one wonder, doesn't it,
what our progeny will do - how they will rebuild, what kind of civilizations they'll create.
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-18-07 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
12. K & R
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Delphinus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-19-07 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
13. Here's a link to Peak Moment TV with the filmmakers:
http://www.peakmoment.tv/conversations/72.html

Quite wonderful interview - I especially loved what Sally had to say (half-way through the interview) about the way of life we grew up with.
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