"You have to believe - not hope, not pray - that there is a way out of it, and that you are going to find it."
"Collapse" is a horror film about what we face in our daily lives. The documentary, from "American Movie" director Chris Smith, looks into the life of Michael Ruppert, an older man who has been an investigative journalist but who has also had ties to the CIA, both in terms of his family (while working for the LAPD, it was discovered that he had a stunning level of clearance due to the connection to his father) and in terms of his personal life (he talks about the result of finding out about the CIA's connection to drug smuggling in the '80's, which is how director Chris Smith found him - he was seeking a film on that subject, and got one on another.)
The film is broken into different pieces. The first portion of the film takes a look into oil, as Ruppert discusses the decline in major oil fields - especially in Saudi Arabia (which is discussed in massive detail in "Twilight in the Desert", the book by Matt Simmons) and the realities of Iraq (one of the first actions of the Bush administration was to create an energy committee looked over by VP Cheney; when minutes were finally released, it became clear that the task group's mission was discuss the potential oil in Iraq) and the oil the country would offer.
The oil in the Arctic is far too difficult to get and that is an interesting discussion in itself. Ruppert talks about the "low-hanging fruit" being picked over, how many deposits are far too deep, dangerous or simply not financially (how many barrels of oil does it take to get a barrel of oil out of the ground) or technologically feasible to get at? If we were not in a situation where oil supplies were in decline, why would actions by various countries suggest we are?
So, lets say that the amount of oil in the world is in decline. The effect of that is devastation, and certainly far beyond people simply not driving. How many barrels of oil does it take to create the car in the first place? Quite a few (7 gallons in every tire, for example.) How much oil does it take to get food from the farm to the table. Lots. Plastics and all manner of other items are created using oil.
Lets say, for the sake of argument, that we are not at "peak oil" - we are still exceedingly reliant on it for daily life, to the point that we're pretty much screwed if peak oil is now or if it were to happen later if no solution has been created (and Ruppert discusses the possibility of that.) In terms of alternative energy, Ruppert discusses the flaws - some quite significant - with various alternative energy forms. It takes more energy to create enthanol than it offers. There is no such thing as "clean coal".
The second half of the film looks into the economic mess, which Ruppert predicted a few years in advance. Starting with the discussion of an increasingly debased fiat currency and an economy that requires infinite growth - infinite growth that cannot be sustained, especially without infinite resources and without an infinite capacity for debt. Countries are slowly beginning to crumble - states in the US are insolvent, Greece and other European countries are in serious trouble, etc.
Ruppert works up to a number of conclusions, with the decline of oil leading to a possibly significant decline in population, given that the population growth since the start of widespread use of oil has been parabolic. The FDIC will be insolvent (it already is.) There will be shortages. Don't run for the hills because you will not be the first one with that idea. In the update included in the DVD, Ruppert talks about posting on the film's facebook page that certain cities in the US were turning off streetlights to save money, and got responses that other cities in other countries were doing the same. Ruppert does offer suggestions on how best to cope with what he views as an inevitable, difficult and possibly long transition for society.
Additionally, what also gradually comes out of the film, bit-by-bit, is a portrait of a fascinating individual, who has seen difficulty and sadness (Ruppert becomes saddened by the "No one could have ever seen this coming"s from the government and media regarding the financial mess, when he and others were screaming about it in advance.) He tries, convincingly, to keep up hope and find light in simple things. Finally, the movie ends with an engaging story that illustrates Ruppert's quest. Overall, "Collapse" is a haunting, quite sober film that ranks alongside such documentaries as "Fog of War".
VIDEO: "Collapse" is presented by MPI Home Entertainment. The presentation quality was quite good - clarity and detail remained first-rate throughout the film, and no print flaws or other concerns were seen. Colors remained subdued, but appeared accurately presented.
SOUND: "Collapse" is presented in Dolby 2.0, and offers perfectly fine documentary-style audio.
EXTRAS: An excellent update featurette essentially functions like a "mini-update movie", covering what has happened in the year since. We also get the trailer and a series of deleted scenes (about 15 minutes worth.)
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Collapse" is a haunting, quite sober film that ranks alongside such documentaries as "Fog of War". The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a few nice extras. "Collapse" is a must-see. See it with others and there is sure to be plenty of conversation afterwards.