Al Gore has passion. I don’t want to disparage his tireless work for the Green cause, but the man is not a film maker.
The original documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was essentially a power point presentation jazzed up with a few clips of Al Gore flying around in a helicopter. At least, that’s how I remember it. But it was also a devestating presentation of the reality of human-led climate change, clear, logical and deniable only by disproving the scientific data on which it was based – which has never happened. It was mocked for its presentation, but rarely for its content. I have never been a denier but I was uninformed; An Inconvenient Truth changed that by presenting the facts in a way I understood and laying a foundation on which I could learn more.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new film, because the place we are in is different now. The deniers are still powerful but very much a minority; for most of us it’s no longer a question of whether human activity is responsible for climate change, it’s what can we do about it? I vaguely expected something similar to the original: facts, arguments, some kind of thought-path to follow.
I’m afraid I found it disappointing.
While this film is based around the Paris Climate deal – the one the Orange Gremlin famously pulled out of earlier this year – it didn’t really have a coherent message or structure. I can’t decide whether it was meant to boost the Al Gore brand or rally the Green troops. I’m not sure it acheived either. What it certainly isn’t is informative about climate change. Oh, there are impressive clips of glaciers melting and ice sheets breaking up. But nothing like the actual information that filled the original.
The clip in the trailer: the most-criticised part of the original being the animation of New York flooding, superimposed with this prediction coming true as it did when Hurricane Sandy hit, should have been the opening salvo in a presentation of more and more evidence of what climate change is doing – right now – to the world we live in. Instead it came across more as an “I told you so” as the documentary swiftly moves on to what Mr Gore has been up to in the meantime.
And I don’t mean to disparage Al Gore or his work: he is clearly passionate about this and has done great work. But no one wants to pay cinema prices to watch an ex-politician stroke his own ego.
The majority of the film is devoted to the Paris Climate conference and the difficulty of getting certain nations – India is singled out but wasn’t the only one – to sign up. It implies that the major breakthrough that got India on board was brokered by Al Gore personally. This bugs me. Maybe it’s true: I have no doubt he worked for it, but these things are rarely down to one person. And even if he does deserve sole credit for it, including his role here feels like showing off. And it detracts from the point, which is that an historic agreement was reached in Paris, one that, if all the countries involved keep to their commitments, might actually save the world. The agreement, the miracle of international co-operation at this level is what the film should be shouting about.
Instead it’s presented as a personal truimph, and the Orange Gremlin’s later dismissal of the agreement becomes a personal snub instead of the global tragedy it is. The film ends with an exhortation to the viewer to fight, but has offered little suggestion as to how. We can’t all sit on the international stage, after all.