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Surviving Progress (2011)

Margaret Atwood , Colin Beavan , Mathieu Roy , Harold Crooks  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Margaret Atwood, Colin Beavan, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, Michael Hudson
  • Directors: Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008D67N8U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,999 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


MIND-EXPANDING... SUBVERSIVE... BRISTLING WITH PROVOCATIVE INSIGHTS. Both brainy and light on its feet, and with wide variety of involving visuals, this mind-expanding ecological documentary bristles with provocative insights and probing questions about humanity and the state of the world. --Kenneth Turan, LA Times

A who's-who of great thinkers are riveting as they walk us through the question of whether we will or can survive progress. --Ernest Hardy, Seattle Weekly

CRITIC'S CHOICE. EXCELLENT! Succinct and entertaining. Weaves together a vast assortment of materials as well as information, to highly watchable results. Do the earth a favor: see this movie, and drag a skeptic you know along. --Dennis Harvey, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Product Description

Technological advancement, economic development, population increase - are they signs of a thriving society? Or too much of a good thing? Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese, this provocative documentary explores the concept of progress in our modern world, guiding us through the major "progress traps" facing our civilization in the arenas of technology, economics, consumption, and the environment.

Featuring powerful arguments from such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood and Stephen Hawking, this enlightening and visually spectacular film invites us to contemplate the progress traps that destroyed past civilizations and that lie treacherously embedded in our own.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In the new documentary "Surviving Progress," once again we learn that man is his own worst enemy. It's an oft-told tale, but one that holds true as we look at the results surrounding us every day. With glimpses of social turmoil, economic upheaval, and ecological devastation--the movie (at only 87 minutes) really veers all over the place. In this structure, many interesting topics are introduced but nothing is dissected in much depth. That is both one of the picture's strengths and one of its weaknesses. I absolutely won't fault the ambitious scope of the film which certainly gives one much to ponder. Some of the focal points were quite familiar, while some were not. But all were easily worth revisiting (or visiting for the first time). It's a compelling argument that not all perceived advances are really worth the toll they are taking on the world. And this documentary examines some examples from around the globe.

A number of familiar figures populate "Surviving Progress" with commentary from notable names such as Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, and Margaret Atwood. It's interesting to assess the path we, as humans, are on and where that road seems to be leading. It's a bleak portrait, to be sure, but one that serves as a call to action. We don't always take the opportunity to course correct when we have it, this film and its experts suggest that we might need to sooner rather than later. It's an important message presented in a stylish package. "Surviving Progress" is exceedingly well constructed and has a visual flair to make its message even more dynamic.

But as much as I want to rave unequivocally about the film, it may be a little too broad for its own good. With so many diverse topics, the movie feels slightly unfocused.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars World in crisis 101 November 18, 2012
This is one of what has become a genre of films reflecting upon the crossroads looming up for mankind and the beautiful blue marble we call home. This particular entry takes a broad rather than deep approach. It serves as an interesting and thoughtful overture to understanding the slow motion pit of social, financial, and economic quicksand we are sinking deeper into year after year. It also serves as as a refresher course for those who have been educating themselves on this topic through film, reading, and other means. Some of the highlights of this production are:

> That the human brain has not evolved much for the last 50,000 years, and as a result human beings still think in terms of short term needs fulfillment

> That the unending drive toward "progress" can be self-defeating in the end

> The danger posed from further depleting the "capitol" reserves provided by nature (water, air, natural resources, etc.)

> How debt grows more rapidly than people can pay, and how the historical policy of cancelling a nation's debt when it becomes impossible to repay has been circumvented... and the fallout from forcing debt repayment

> The perennial trend of allowing wealth to be concentrated into too few hands, and how this phenomenon exists today in a highly leveraged manner

> How Wall Street used its wealth to shape government regulations to gain more wealth, which in turn was used to further shape policy and create additional wealth... ad infinitum... until the financial system crashes under its own weight.

> How indigenous peoples are getting trapped in unsustainable economies.

> How the bankers are systematically converting the natural resources of countries into personal profit.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very eye opening. January 19, 2013
Verified Purchase
I have been thinking about the topics in this film for several years now, and my brother told me about this movie, he watched it on Netflix I believe.

I wish that everyone in the world could see this movie, and totally understand what rampant consumerism and greed is doing to our planet, then maybe we could force the wall street bankers and economists to change the way we value, but like Vaclav Smil said, what do we do?

"I’m inoculated against any doctrinaire, grand solutions, saying, you know: this is the pattern, this is the master, this is the paradigm which we have to follow..."
-Vaclav Smil global energy expert

How can we reach people and let them know about what WILL happen if things continue as they are now? I have no clue. All I can do is live life here on earth in the most sustainable way possible, I owe it to the future, even though I have no children and hence no real stake in the future, but just for man kind's sake and the sake of all the life here on earth as we know it.

"I read scrawled on a wall somewhere that every time history repeats itself, the price goes up."
– Ronald Wright

Hopefully we can all do something to change the way things are, before the price becomes too high.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's Nothing New Here September 21, 2012
By Theo
There are two quite different questions we need to ask about this film.

First, does it deliver a vitally important message that the world desperately needs to listen to and act on?

Most definitely yes.

Second, is this a particularly good or interesting film?

On that I'd have to say no.

Simply put, there's nothing new or especially insightful here. It's the same message that pretty well every sane piece on the environment has been giving us for decades: namely, that we're burning our environmental capital to fund current consumption, and that as a result our entire civilization is racing headlong towards its own destruction - just like so many other failed civilizations before us.

On the plus side, "Surviving Progress" does do a good job of explaining how important western economic interests have been in bringing about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

On the down side, while the filmmakers do appear to be aware that it is human behaviour that is causing all the problems, their approach to doing something about that behavior seems rather naïve. For example, we are admonished to "reform ourselves, remake ourselves in a way that cuts against the grain of our inner animal nature". But it should be obvious to anyone who believes that we are indeed the products of nature, and not of miracles, just how unproductive this piece of advice is likely to be. How exactly do the filmmakers suggest we achieve this goal of going against our own natures?

Through the power of prayer?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
Beautiful cinematography and a movie which I truly enjoyed watching. This is one of the better documentaries from the past few years.
Published 3 months ago by Fabian Ruiz
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Documentary From Martin Scorsese, Mathieu Ray and Harold...
With Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, Michael Hudson, Craig Venter and Robert Wright, and released by First Run Features. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zarathustra
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent ~
This one really gets you thinking and inspires change. With a great soundtrack to boot (Philip Glass like) Excellent ~
Published 4 months ago by S.M. Dishman
4.0 out of 5 stars Explanation of our end?
The disk presents a credible argument that we are unable, largely because our largely ancient brain structure, to see and address the larger consequences of our actions. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jon Steenhoven
5.0 out of 5 stars Insights to take us beyond just the existing economic system
A great movie that makes you think about the larger ideas of what is going on. Most folks are caught in the constant state of crisis after crisis, but this helps us take a bigger... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Christopher Aune
5.0 out of 5 stars Rings true
Great documentary on the 21st century challenge from some exciting minds in the fields of development, sustainability, biology, etc. Read more
Published 6 months ago by EugeSchu
3.0 out of 5 stars Best atheistic argument for Christianity I've seen.
The movie itself was often slow and dry, but we did make it through the whole thing. It begins by discussing evolution which was a pretty clear sign that the writers are probably... Read more
Published 7 months ago by JD
5.0 out of 5 stars All that I expected and more
I had heard a lot about this film before I watched it and it exceeded my expectations.

I was captured by it from the first moment on. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Patricia Schulze
5.0 out of 5 stars Troubling and Thought Provoking - We Will Acknowledge the Need for a...
I first viewed this video on an international flight, and was compelled to buy it to share with friends and family. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Pierre LeBlanc
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best documentary that must be viewed by everyone.
Provocative and amazing, Surviving Progress are suggesting that until we all decide to change our lifestile dramaticaly, consuming only the resources that Mother Nature can replace... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dandea Petru Sorin
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