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Informative survey of the environmental movement - both past and present
on October 6, 2013
"A Fierce Green Fire," a documentary in five acts, chronicles the history of the environmental movement, beginning in the early years of the 20th Century and running through the present day.
Written and directed by Mark Kitchell, the movie, based on the book by Phillip Shabecoff, divides its subject into sections entitled "Conservation," "Pollution," "Alternatives," "Going Global" and "Climate Change," each hosted by a different narrator (Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabelle Allende, Meryl Streep, respectively). The movie provides a fascinating and informative survey of the people and events that, for more than a hundred years, have helped to raise the world's consciousness regarding the harm humans are inflicting on nature and the planet. More importantly, the movie shows that people can achieve great things against nearly impossible odds when they work together in a common cause. It also illustrates how the environmental movement and the social justice movement dovetailed over time into a single entity.
By interviewing many of the movers and shakers over the decades who have dedicated their lives to preserving the environment, the movie functions as an indispensable time capsule for future generations to see how people were able to rise up and make a difference. However, the movie also makes it clear that there is still a great deal more that needs to be done, particularly in the areas of global warming and climate change. And here is where the film turns much more pessimistic, pointing out the many seemingly intractable obstacles to rational action that have been thrown up by industrial, governmental and right wing ideological forces, particularly in the United States, since the 1980s. Yet, despite this gloomy assessment, the fight continues, as people of good faith and intentions storm the barricades of entrenched money and power to do battle in a just cause.
"A Fierce Green Fire" is a must-see both for those who lived through and participated in those tumultuous times - sometimes at the risk of their own lives - as well as for those more recent inhabitants of the planet who are reaping the rewards of their forebears' commitment and effort. But, as the movie also keeps telling us, there is still so much more to do.