Monday, February 26, 2007

Bologna Has a First Name

Not since the 1990s have I been as disinterested in the Academy Awards as I was this year. This isn’t a big surprise, of course. Since becoming a father, I have seen two films in the theater—quite a departure from the days when I would see up to 100 movies in the theater within a given year. As a consequence, many nominated films were completely unfamiliar to me, even by name. I simply had no emotional investment in this year’s Oscar® race—except for one movie.

After much hullabaloo, I saw the global warming “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth on DVD just two months ago. As compelling or engrossing as the film may or may not have been in its own right, I fail to see its merits as a documentary. Those with a background in film studies may find my ignorance glaring, but An Inconvenient Truth seemed to me nothing more than a videotaped lecture. It was a filmed PowerPoint slideshow interspersed with Al Gore’s (totally unrelated) reminiscing about the scandalous events surrounding the 2000 United States presidential election. If this had been meant as a documentary about Al Gore, its focus on global warming would have proven its filmmaker inept. But nobody can truthfully assume Al Gore was meant to comprise the film’s subject matter. So, if global warming was the real message of the film, why all the interruptions to discuss Gore’s firsthand experience as a presidential candidate? Interesting stuff, sure, but not in a movie about global warming. And why not branch out and talk to someone other than Al Gore? Are we documenting global warming, or just Al Gore’s speech about global warming? The filmmaker only demonstrates the latter.

As I see it, this film was a way to promote Al Gore’s views on global warming and not a documentary about global warming itself. If it was meant to be the latter, then it is an abysmal documentary. If it was merely a marketing ploy for Gore’s own thoughts on global warming—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that being the motive—then perhaps the film succeeds. After all, if you can get your lecture to a bigger audience by putting it on film and playing it in movie houses all across the country, then so be it. But again, if that is the case, does An Inconvenient Truth really constitute a remarkable documentary? I just don’t see it. And unless the other four features nominated in this same category were absolutely wretched (I haven’t seen any of them to comment), I can only see Gore’s Oscar victory as a consolation prize for his de jure loss in ’00. I’m doubtful that the Academy would have felt as strongly toward An Inconvenient Truth had 2000 turned out a bit differently (even if Gore had still “lost”). Of course, if the film’s victory is undeserved, that’s Gore’s and the filmmakers’ inconvenient truth to deal with. All I know is that it’s a truth with which I’m not very comfortable.


  1. OH Yeah...the Academy Awards. Hmmmph...didn't even think about them. They seem to be more and more self-serving every year, and who cares? They lost almost all my respect the year they awarded The Sound of Music over Doctor Zhivago for best picture, sometime back in the 60's. That was totally brainless!! I haven't trusted them since.

  2. Didn't see the movie. And thanks to you, I no longer feel guilty about it! Thanks!