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A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash

4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An unforgettable and shocking wake-up call, A CRUDE AWAKENING offers the rock-solid argument that the era of cheap oil is in the past. Relentless and clear-eyed, this intensively-researched film drills deep into the uncomfortable realities of a world that is both addicted to fossil fuels and blissfully unaware of the looming "peak oil" crisis. Drawing on an international cast of maverick energy experts and thinkers, directors Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack debunk the conventional wisdom that oil production will continue to climb, and instead stare bleakly at a planet facing economic meltdown and conflict over its most valuable resource. Featuring a haunting score by Phillip Glass and a fascinating array of rare archival footage, the film explores oil's rocky relationship with human progress in locales ranging from ancient Baku, Azerbaijan to dusty oilpatch town McCamey, Texas.

Amidst a dark and disturbing vision of our future, A CRUDE AWAKENING hints at a humbler way of life built around sustainability and alternative energy, providing a visually stunning, boldly prophetic testament which provokes not just thought but action.


While the previous eco-doc Who Killed the Electric Car? spent some time on the world's oil crisis, A Crude Awakening (formerly OilCrash) builds an entire film around the subject. Swiss journalist Basil Gelpke and Irish filmmaker Ray McCormack have constructed their narrative in a conventional manner, alternating between talking heads, archival footage, and modern-day material, but the addition of several pieces by Phillip Glass is an artful touch (and evokes his work on 1988's The Thin Blue Line). Throughout, a diverse array of experts from the U.S., Azerbaijan, Venezuela, and other countries explain how the 20th century became addicted to "the blood of the dinosaurs," and why contemporary society needs to change course. As attorney/activist Matthew David Savinar puts it, "Oil is our God." As Stanford professor Terry Lynn Karl adds, "More and more oil is going to come from less and less stable places...places that actually challenge the taking of oil in the first place." One of the more chilling revelations concerns the discrepancy between the reserves oil-producing nations claim they possess and the actual amount. These padded estimates allow them to drill with impunity, leading to an abundance of wealth in the short term and cataclysmic consequences once they've depleted their supply of this non-renewable resource. A Crude Awakening isn't exactly a day-brightener, but Gelpke and McCormack are comprehensive and impartial in their inquiry, which makes for an informative examination of a vitally important subject. Extras include extended interviews with four participants and bonus chapter Petrostates. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Extended interviews
  • Bonus chapter: Petrostates
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Wade Adams, Abdul Samad Al-Awadi
  • Directors: Ray McCormack, Basil Gelpke, Reto Caduff
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: July 31, 2007
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PY52IG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,574 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I've bought and read most of the major "peak oil" books that have been published the last few years, and so I didn't expect that much from this film when I ordered it using my Neflix subscription (now I'm buying a copy here on Amazon, for a mere $19.99).

Boy, was I ever surprised when I viewed it today! This documentary is so well done, that I really feel it should be required viewing in all high schools and colleges, and I wish everyone in this country could in fact see it.

Virtually all of the major energy experts, most of whom have written books on Peak Oil, are interviewed in this film, with a multitude of scores of video clips from the past and present, including an interview from the 1970's, with M. King Hubbert (the originator of Hubbert's Peak).

This film shows the power of video documentaries, when they are produced with style, creativity and true expertise. Just about every conceivable concept related to the world's energy use, past, present and future, along with great comments regarding the various alternative possibilities (solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen, etc.), are illustrated here.

Five stars without any doubt!
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Format: DVD
Stark and sobering but refreshingly intelligent...

Oil is depicted as a "miracle elixir" -- an incredibly efficient energy source so cheap it has transformed human civilization, and makes it possible for us to sustain a global population of 6.5 billion people (and projected to reach ten billion this century).

Yet in the big picture the "oil age" will be remembered as a mere 200-300 year "blip" in human history - a brief orgy of cheap energy.

Much is made of discovering more reserves and expanded production, but these are being absorbed by huge new markets in Asia and Africa and so merely accelerate our dash toward depletion.

This is a limited commodity and when gone we are unlikely to have a good replacement.

Alternate energy sources lack oil's cheap abundance and efficiency. If we convert to nuclear on a global scale, in addition to hazards of waste disposal, we will shortly deplete the earth's uranium. Solar and wind power are simply inadequate to the task of replacing petroleum. Hydrogen and ethanol are expensive and require petroleum to produce. And so it goes...

There is surprisingly little political agenda here, as there seems no obvious solution to the crisis. It is suggested we might "soften" the shock of oil depletion by immediate serious (not token) efforts at conversion to alternate energies. This may help "ease" us out of the oil age -- but at present is too expensive for most people, and the political will is near non-existent on the scale needed.

It is predicted that the immediate future will see increasingly violent military struggles for control of diminishing reserves.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This outstanding documentary has won many awards, and has been called "possibly the most important film of the decade." Although, there are several other documentaries of the past few years that should be required viewing.
As a film, "A Crude Awakening" is brilliantly crafted. The cinematography and the music are moving. While the message of the film is of utmost importance. For years, environmentalists have been advocating for a more sustainable energy system. In this film, they have their concerns and goals validated by Republican representatives like Roscoe Bartlett, several energy industry investors, and the former head of the CIA - James Woolsey. While "Earth First" and the CIA may seem like strange bedfellows, there appears to be a shared interest in avoiding an amplified global catastrophe that is pulling them in similar directions. I say "amplified" because in many ways, there is already a catastrophe related to oil going on - the megadeath in Iraq, the propping up of dictators, the oil production waste sites in Nigeria and Ecuador, and much else.
As disconcerting as this film is, there are hopeful developments. Documentaries like The Power Of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil and the recently released film "The 11th Hour" point towards the ways in which global society can transition from the oil economy. Journals like Plenty Magazine and Sustainable Industries Journal also help people to avoid being neutralized by despair, and also provide entrepreneurs and investors all sorts of leads as to where money can be made in the "next industrial revolution.
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Format: DVD
The most fascinating aspect to A CRUDE AWAKENING is that the film was made not by some left-wing conspiracy theorists with ties to Greenpeace or The World Wildlife Fund, but by two Swiss directors, one (Gelpke) with a background in anthropology, economics, war reporting, and science films, and the other (McCormack) who holds an honors degree in Environmental Policy and Management. These two men know how to make a documentary that looks at both sides of our oil needs and industry while not knocking our addictive behavior towards gasoline. It does lack a few aspects in the end, but holds your attention enough to make the whole watchable.

The focus, as the title suggests, is on our crude oil dependency. We all know oil won't last forever, right? Right? Please tell me you know this. If not, you really need to watch this film. It looks at the boom and bust methodology used in early crude oil finds and how we naively thought (up until the 1970s) that oil/gas would last forever.

The story slashes across socio-economic ground, taking in opinions from specialists in the field to Senators and economists. All of them, without exception, realize that oil isn't going to last much longer. The need to find alternative fuels that are (and here's the key) affordable is on.

The great thing is that these men and women talk about how vital oil and natural gas is to our financial existence, simply because it is so cheap. You just can't find energy this affordable. Fuel cell technology, hydrogen fuels, solar, and many other alternatives are discussed but are exceptionally expensive to produce and market to the general population. No doubt we have a lot of worries coming our way as carbon-based fuels become more and more scarce.
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