This film has been shown up and down the country not only in cinemas but also in at Eco or peace fairs or other gatherings arranged by community groups. Pete Postlethwaite, the Oscar nominated actor and director, narrates the film. The style is that of an entertaining documentary and in spite of the serious theme has some lighter moments.
The UK Committee on Climate Change (assessing IPCC evidence) have taken the view that even a 4 degree warming could create conditions that are beyond the capacity of the human species to survive. The Age of Stupid is built around this scenario. In the year 2055, the Archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) is in charge of a video archive that provides clues as to why, when we knew about the dangers of climate change, we failed to take the necessary action to preserve the environment on which we as a race depend.
The ‘documentary’ then looks back to our current age, interweaving clips from the lives of ordinary individuals with documentary style graphics. Taking reflections from around the world, the film raises questions about individual and corporate human behaviour. One character who worked all his life in the oil industry and is himself affected by climate change (having lost everything he owns in a hurricane) typifies the confusion of those in our current age. We depend on fossil fuel but our future depends on leaving it in the ground. The film pins its colours to the mast rather more firmly on the subject of peak oil and the relationship between oil and conflict. It also offers a good illustration of a contraction and convergence approach so that film-goers come away knowing that there are solutions on offer.
Unlike An Inconvenient Truth, The Age of Stupid does not end on a positive note of hope. It is more a case of “will the last person on earth please turn off the lights”. This powerful ending is something to be aware of if organising a public showing. A tip – follow the showing of the film with some short opportunity for discussion or action. We had a very successful showing in our church. It was advertised widely and attracted over 60 people, at least one third of whom were not from churches. However it felt necessary to give people the opportunity to discuss an alternative vision of the future. We had the manager of the local Agenda 21 group present to help guide a short question and answer session on how we might as individuals and as a community respond to the challenge of climate change. We were also able to introduce Operation Noah and send a petition to our MP.
Some who came along to our showing were not committed environmentalists. Some were disturbed by the film but are now motivated to get the message out to others. In the film the Archivist reflects on why it was we didn’t bother to save the planet; was it, he asks, because at some level we felt that we weren’t worth saving? A question maybe that only we can answer.
See www.ageofstupid.net for more info on the film