An Inconvenient Truth
Directed by Davis Guggenheim. (2006, PG, 100 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 2, 2006
You can call him Al. He introduces himself as the man “who used to be the next president of the United States of America.” There’s no question about it: This is the Al Gore 2.0 version. The figure presented in this documentary is not the Al Gore whom people found too stiff and impersonal during the 2000 elections. This is the looser, more media-savvy and passionate guy who no one suspected existed. The film is essentially a document of Gore’s traveling slide show about the global-warming crisis, a presentation he’s been perfecting in auditoriums across the globe over the last few years. The show is lively and heartfelt – a persuasive call to action. Still, it’s not without some wonkish climate charts and graphs depicting currents and temperatures and such. It’s probably best if the veracity and implications of the science put forth here are left to qualified scientists to debate. Certainly, there are niggling issues here and there regarding Gore’s interpretation of certain facts and experiences. Did the ecology movement really begin only after the first moon landing, as Gore claims? Or is he conveniently conflating personal experience and public perceptions? Nevertheless, these are petty inaccuracies – like Gore’s once-upon-a-time “invention of the Internet.” As a film An Inconvenient Truth is a treasury of information. Attention may occasionally drift, but the film’s message of urgency is abundantly clear. Guggenheim fills out the slide-show material with some personal background about the former vice-president that allows Gore to expand on his cause in more emotional terms. We visit the Tennessee home of his privileged childhood, where he’s happy to tell us he learned to hunt. The death of his sister from lung cancer and his decision to divest his tobacco holdings and interests demonstrate his belief in science’s ability to change our thinking. The most potent idea he puts forth is that “in America, political will is a renewable resource.” Gore’s zeal for his subject is inspiring and this big-screen tool for getting his message out is a step in the right direction.