A decade after the glorified PowerPoint presentation “An Inconvenient Truth” won the Best Documentary Oscar and opened a lot of eyes to the effects of climate change comes a follow-up, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power.”
For better and for worse the new film feels more like a movie than it predecessor. The slide show hasn’t completely disappeared but it is enhanced by the addition of on-the-ground footage, extensive interviews with Al Gore and news reports.
The film begins with Gore’s critics. Labelled everything from a con man to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels the audio clips remind us of the polarizing reaction to the first film. They are also the last voices of dissent we hear in the film. From here on in it’s the Al Gore Show—someone even gushes, “I wish I could call you Mr. President!”—as he tells rapt crowds about the Biblical threat of melting ice caps and the link between Zika and climate change, travels the world spreading his gospel and do media interviews. We get to know the man behind the PowerPoint through footage of him at his ancestral home, some family photographs and several revealing moments where he expresses doubt that his crusade is working quickly enough.
Gore is a friendly figure, a slow talking baritone with a bit of a drawl, but don’t let the Will Rogers persona fool you, he’s a canny spokesman. His language is filled with highly charged catchphrases about “rain bombs,” or how climate change is “a movement that will advance mankind” and how and why the world is under an “existential threat.” He’s a skilled speaker, ramping up the message through carefully chosen words and rational, although frequently impassioned, assessment of scientific facts.
To bolster Gore’s words the film relies on pie charts, graphs and facts and figures galore but it is the images that resonate. Footage of streets melting in Valsad, India in 128° weather or anticipatory mass graves dug in Asia in preparation of deaths from extreme weather are powerful images that once seen won’t be soon forgotten.
Gore’s verbiage may employ hyperbole but by-and-large the film doesn’t. In terms of traditional drama, a conflict to move you further ahead in your seat, the best the movie can do follows the Prime minister of Indian’s announcement that it would be morally wrong not to use fossil fuel to bring energy to 300 of his people who currently are without power. Gore jumps into action, trying to negotiate lower interest rates so India can cheaply invest in solar rather than coal and oil. It’s not exactly Hitchcock, but it does add some real life tension to the facts and figures.
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power” works better as a timely call to action than a movie entertainment. Canadians will note footage of the fires at Fort McMurray and a cameo from Justin Trudeau while all viewers worldwide are urged to “Fight Like Your World Depends On It” and become environmentally aware citizens.