An Inconvenient Truth (2006) / Documentary
MPAA Rated: PG for thematic elements
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Al Gore
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Review published June 10, 2006
You can say whatever you like about the politics of former Senator and Vice President Al Gore, and you can even be skeptical about his message as delivered in his documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, but at the very least, he does make a compelling case for anyone that watches it to find out more about the situation. While most Liberal viewers out there will believe everything Gore says chapter and verse, and Conservatives will no doubt dismiss it as more misguided, tree-hugging scare tactics, if you keep an open mind to the presentation as delivered, it's almost impossible not to feel that self-education regarding the global warming issue has become an immediate concern that merits thorough investigation before dismissing as "Chicken Little" nonsense.
The strength of the documentary's impetus comes from the affability and mild-mannered approach by the main presenter of its information. The main weakness of it is that that person is Al Gore. It's not because Al Gore isn't an eloquent speaker and respectable leader worthy of presenting such volatile, and potentially cataclysmic, information -- as a famous politician that has been on the forefront of the environmental movement, there are few other recognizable names that could have even gotten this film made. The fact is that Gore's presence has the double-edged quality that will galvanize the political base that firmly believes in the environmental movement while keeping those that should rightfully hear the information, namely, closed-minded Conservatives, completely at bay.
Most staunch Conservatives will refuse to believe anything Gore has to say on the matter, regardless of how many facts he is able to back up, probably dismissing every learned scientist, scholarly journal, and news article as more evidence of a Liberal political agenda that seeks to take away prime and lucrative industries in the world that employ millions of hard-working people. Ironic that the same people that see every syllable uttered by Gore as tainted lies will take everything said by provocateurs like Rush Limbaugh as gospel, without the need for scientific evidence to support his theories to label them as indubitable truth.
Another double-edged quality to the film lies in the amount of personal information about Al Gore that director Guggenheim deemed necessary to include. Within the construct of the slide presentation, we are taken outside of it to learn several anecdotes about Gore's upbringing and tidbits regarding the most interesting facets of his life. The intended effect is to make Gore seem more trustworthy and likeable, and therefore, not some empty suit lobbyist or wacko with a crazy agenda. While it is successful on this front, there are moments when you begin to wonder if the film isn't driven by the need to compel us into more environmentally friendly pursuits than in the redemption of Al Gore as a person and political entity ruined by the divisive election of 2000. However, on the other hand, Gore actually does manage to tie in this anecdotal material into the overall message, even if only tangentially, so credit them for trying to take a more personal, emotionally resonant, and friendly approach, while still sticking to theme.
An Inconvenient Truth may not be the most exciting film released in the Summer of 2006, but it is probably the most important, especially for those that don't want to believe such a dire situation exists. You may not have voted for Gore, and you may not even like him personally; listen to the message, if not the messenger, and then do your own studies on the situation from actual scientific sources -- not radio personality political pundits with knee-jerk claims of "Chicken Little" like boys who cry wolf.
Removing my own personal and political beliefs and just taking this as a film, it is effectively presented and fascinating in its information, even if somewhat dry at times for those not accustomed to listening to what amounts to be a lecture, albeit a flashy one. Perhaps having excerpts of interviews with actual scientific scholars and leaders would have been a better way to strengthen Gore's claims than showing his boyhood home and family, but Gore's message still is able to get out there, and possibly affect thousands of people and the way they think -- perhaps even millions once it hits video and TV, An Inconvenient Truth may have shortcomings in certain respects, and it may not alter the course of the world as it intends, but it just might change your life, and for that alone, it deserves to be called one of the most powerful and important films of 2006.
©2006 Vince Leo