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H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
Wed May 22, 2013, 06:45 PM May 2013

Promised Land

On Sunday, my good friend “Bluenorthwest” sent me an e-mail, to say that he had watched the movie “Promised Land.” As it is about hydrofracking, he thought of me, and wrote to say that it had come out on DVD. After we communicated a bit through a series of Democratic Underground e-mails, I drove to the nearest store that sells movies. I was happy to purchase their last copy.

For anyone who may not be familiar with “Promised Land,” it stars Matt Damon and Frances McDormand as agents for an energy corporation. They are sent to a small town that is like thousands of the little communities that the gas industry targets for exploitation. Factory jobs have been exported; family farms have difficulty competing in the current economic realities, and the promise of big money is very enticing to two groups of people: those who are going broke, and those who are greedy by nature.

The agents of the gas industry are trained to appeal to people’s fears and greed: your town will die without fracking; you could easily be sitting on a fortune here. They also peddle para-patriotism: help the US become energy independent; drill a well, and bring a soldier home. The film delivers a very good character study in those areas.

More, I think Matt Damon is a talented young actor, and I have long admired Frances McDormand as an extremely capable artist.

Perhaps the most interesting and important point made in the movie is how the gas industry exercises control over the internal and external dynamics of small town governments. This, as every experienced social activist/ community organizer here knows, includes infiltrating their opposition -- those pesky environmentalists. Change it to an anti-war or civil rights group, and the exact same thing holds true.

The movie is top-notch, in my opinion. I strongly recommend it to those interested in issues involving the environment. Even if the environment isn’t your primary focus in social-political issues, it’s still definitely worth watching.

Finally, I’m interested in hearing the opinions of others here, who have watched the film.

H2O Man

20 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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(150,292 posts)
1. I haven't seen it, or even heard about it, my dear H20 Man...
Wed May 22, 2013, 06:49 PM
May 2013

But I'm more than happy to K&R your always lucid and interesting post!

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
16. You will like it,
Thu May 23, 2013, 09:58 AM
May 2013

I'm sure. Not because it has a cheery message, but because it tells the truth.



(20,729 posts)
3. "the gas industry exercises control over the dynamics of small town government"
Wed May 22, 2013, 06:52 PM
May 2013

kind of like how the ruling class exercises control over the dynamics of the 99% generally, eh?


(52,791 posts)
4. The "environmental activist" in the film completely caught
Wed May 22, 2013, 07:16 PM
May 2013

me by surprise. And then I felt pretty foolish for having been surprised. I guess you just can't BE too cynical anymore.

H2O Man

(73,995 posts)
18. That was an
Thu May 23, 2013, 10:06 AM
May 2013

important part.

I suspect it was surprising to you, because you are a very nice person. I'm not! And I have encountered "him/her" numerous times over the decades. And so it wasn't a surprise to me.



(45,319 posts)
5. I'm so glad you liked it. Your good opinion of this film says much about the
Wed May 22, 2013, 07:24 PM
May 2013

quality of the piece. I also liked it very much and was happy to see so much reality in the depiction of corporate mendacity in dealing with these valuable communities and resources. The story by Dave Eggers and the screenplay by Damon and co-star John Karinski were well informed I thought. But you are so much better informed on both the subject of hydrofraking and community organizing that I am very happy to hear you liked the film.


(15,835 posts)
6. The film showed here
Wed May 22, 2013, 07:38 PM
May 2013

at a local theater. After, the lights came up and a number of anti-fracking groups did a Q-and-A session with members of the audience and literature was made available. The most amazing thing was the number of people who had never heard of fracking and were surprised to learn that it's happening quite literally right under their noses; they came to see a Matt Damon movie, they left with more than leftover popcorn.

Auntie Bush

(17,528 posts)
9. I'll go to the library and see if they have it. Thanks for the post. My daughter
Wed May 22, 2013, 08:16 PM
May 2013

lives in upstate eastern NY (Glen Falls area) and is very interested and worried about fracking. Thank God Cuomo giving it some common sense thought. Let's hope he comes to the right decision.



(3,286 posts)
12. The documentary about fracking....
Wed May 22, 2013, 10:23 PM
May 2013

...GASLAND told me all I needed to know about this industry practice but if Matt Damon and Francis McDormand can bring more viewers to the issue, I have no problem with that.


(12,894 posts)
13. Weird that you mention this today, because I just watched it last night...
Thu May 23, 2013, 01:42 AM
May 2013

My husband rented it and both of us were impressed with this film. Frances McDormand and Matt Damon had great "chemistry" together as co-workers. I didn't realize that the guy who played Dustin was the co-writer with Matt Damon until I saw the bonus features. His character threw me for a loop when his "environmentalist" role was revealed.

I loved the small town feel, but I see where it is so easy to persuade those who do need the money. It's very predatory, however, I can see how some would just take the money and go.

Not too long ago, we had a story in our local news about rural well-water catching on fire when it ran from the faucet. They showed just how simply turning on the faucet would make it blaze up, all while just trying to get a glass of water. I remember thinking WTF is up with this? Living in Texas, we are inundated with this issue.

Glad you brought this up.

Little Star

(17,055 posts)
19. The fracking industry playing both sides of the fence in order to control everything...
Thu May 23, 2013, 12:09 PM
May 2013

It was an eye opener for me & I have been recommending the movie to others also. So, k&r.

But I just came across a thread here on DU "What if the wars were never about terrorism, what if they were always about money & Corporate Greed?" http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022889161 and said to myself 'that's just like Promised Land'! Different subject same shell game, yes?


(23,867 posts)
20. I had a conversation with a friend a couple of days ago.
Thu May 23, 2013, 02:29 PM
May 2013

When I read your post yesterday it cleared something up for me. Matthew is one of the most insightful people I've ever known. He grew up across the street from me in what is probably the most liberal town in America. I just assumed that what I grew up with was normal. Well Matthew is now a marine biologist in Washington state. He lives in a county that is far from liberal. He was at some kind of town meeting where the county commissioner was speaking. Matthew used the term "unctuous". And he mentioned how his electric scooter actually has an additional registration fee of $100 just because. And at that meeting the commissioner was appointing, or trying to get elected, some crony to an environmental board, who is everything but environmentally minded. Matthew was expressing his utter disgust.

Now it starts to become very clear. I knew about Walmarts widening freeways, and building onramps for towns they would be building in. But now I see how our interests are being un-served by people like this county commissioner. There is little doubt that he worships the gods of the oil wells. (By the way, I just heard of a book by the title of Carbon Democracy which sounds well worth reading). So we are relatively powerless to stop the destruction that is being paved with dollars. Your post helped to clear up the remaining pieces that I was unable to see.

So the viscous cycle is partly, if not mostly, propelled by us as we drive our cars, and take our trips, etc. But even if we were to begin efforts to curb the disaster that is unfolding, we are up against a petroleum wall of power that keeps us from being successful.

I had a dream the other night. It also cleared up something in my personal life. I've been moving from property to property over the last 25 years in an attempt to find a home. In that dream I saw native Americans living in a pristine land. It is now clear to me that my unhappiness stems from being conscious of the diseased life we are living. This is not off topic. And what I also now see is that every step we take to remedy our situation that is not in line with nature is a step away from a happy, sustainable life. When I first saw the term "green" in my engineering magazine in 1992, I immediately unsubscribed. Until right now, I was not consciously aware of exactly why I was so disturbed by it.

If I were to elaborate on this stuff, it would take up pages. I better leave it here, and go take a walk in the redwoods.

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