To paint An Inconvenient Truth as anything less than what it is -- a near clarion call to action -- would be to slight former Vice President of the United States Al Gore's seemingly indefatigable need to alert everyone within earshot of his voice about the mounting dangers of global warming. Why this film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, succeeds where so many others have fallen short, is that Gore never strikes the viewer as anything other than rational, collected and impassioned. He's not alarmist, he's not half-crazed about melting glaciers or raging forest fires -- he's merely sad and determined, armed with facts and figures and set upon making some sort of positive impact.
With a relentless torrent of scientific data at his fingertips (and a "Futurama" clip or two), broken down into easily digestible and understood chunks, Gore lays out the past, present and downright harrowing future of our globe, as it continues to reel from the effects of our callous hyper-consumption. One chilling statistic after another (often backed up with stunning photographic evidence) piles up until you're left, shaken and unnerved, as the credits roll, listing several ways you yourself can engage in making a difference.
Woven into the fabric of An Inconvenient Truth is an informal biography of Gore himself, following his journey from the family farm in Tennessee to the halls of power in Washington to his globe-trotting adventures as an eco-missionary. These interludes punctuate his presentation, offering respite from the dizzying amount of information, but also deftly providing insight into why he pursues this avocation so devotedly. It's a trick that could've very well failed, dragging down the otherwise essential message of An Inconvenient Truth, but Guggenheim seamlessly integrates this necessary information into his overall narrative.
There's not much more I can say about An Inconvenient Truth that you won't discover for yourself when you sit down to watch it -- it lays out in plain, unfiltered language precisely what we are doing and why our planet is in crisis. It's sobering, terrifying and more than a little depressing, but you're left with a feeling of possibility, rather than dread inevitability. An Inconvenient Truth is an important, powerful and necessary film -- it's one that connects like few others in 2006 and one places the onus of action upon you, the viewer. How you feel upon the film's conclusion is much less important that what you will do -- having the courage to take action can be the hardest step, but also the most rewarding. (A portion of the proceeds from the DVD's sales will benefit the bipartisan climate effort The Alliance for Climate Protection and the filmmakers point those in search of more detailed information to the Web site www.climatecrisis.net.) The DVD
Filmed on HD video and Super 16, An Inconvenient Truth doesn't look quite as sharp as it could in its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer -- instances of grain, smearing and slight noise mar an otherwise very clean and sharp-looking image. Particularly when the camera swoops in close upon Gore's Apple-fueled slideshow, you can see the fuzziness of letters and softness of photos. There's nothing overly distracting about the few flaws, but they are present nonetheless. The Audio:
I had to crank the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack a bit above normal to make out what Gore was saying; for some reason, the whole audio track was pitched at a lower volume -- not unintelligible, just a lot lower than where most DVDs are set. Despite the volume issue, Gore's dire warnings about global warming are heard cleanly and free of drop-out throughout the film. A Dolby 2.0 stereo track is included, as are optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. The Extras:
The packaging itself is a bonus here -- made from 100% post-consumer recycled material and sliver-thin, it features "Ten Things to Do" on the inside flap, with the disc tucked snugly in a sleeve on the opposing flap. A pair of commentary tracks -- one with Guggenheim and the other stitched together with appearances from producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns and Lesley Chilcott -- easily cover the background and technical information about the making of the film, as well as their collective passion for the project. In lieu of a commentary track, Gore contributes a 32 minute, 17 second "update," presented in anamorphic widescreen and outlining all that has transpired since the film's completion in late 2005. The 11 minute, seven second "The Making of 'An Inconvenient Truth'" is presented in anamorphic widescreen and rendered somewhat redundant by the commentary tracks, with the music video for Melissa Etheridge's "I Need To Wake Up" rounding out the disc. Final Thoughts:
An Inconvenient Truth is an important, powerful and necessary film -- it's one that connects like few others in 2006 and one places the onus of action upon you, the viewer. How you feel upon the film's conclusion is much less important that what you will do -- having the courage to take action can be the hardest step, but also the most rewarding. Don't miss this film. Highly recommended.