Wednesday, April 06, 2016

100 Must See Films! -- Earth

15. Earth Days (2009, USA)
Documentary with Stewart Brand

This is a responsible objective look at the origin of Earth Day by a distinguished documentarian with privileged archival access. It is a history of environmental consciousness in North America which offers a deeply sober look at the last fifty years of the environmental movement and just how far we haven’t come.

Writer/Director: Robert Stone (Pandora’s Promise)
Budget: $1,200,000
IMDB rating: 7.1

A Stunning Visual Portrayal of Earth:

16. Home (2009, France)
Documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Here we have a film which explores our planet from thrilling visual perspectives (drawn from 500 hours of high quality aerial footage)and a surprising variety of intellectual and emotional perspectives. Just when you think you understand the film’s message, it turns a corner. For those without a confident coherent view of the overall circumstance of planet Earth and the deeply interconnected effects of all of our human activity upon it, this film offers privileged and useful vantages.

I saw this in late 2011 and the insights I have since gained threaten to make the film’s conclusion seem na├»ve or possibly even suspect in terms of agenda, yet this does nothing to spoil its value. In the quest for environmental understanding this remains an excellent step!

Bertrand stated that the “movie has no copyright” and so I borrowed images from it (with proper attribution) to accompany one of my little songs called White and Blue which I only record on youtube so that I need not commit to remembering how to play them, without them being entirely lost. I am not a performer nor competent musician so you may not wish to follow this link unless you are feeling charitable!

Narrator: The cost of our actions is high. Others pay the price without having been actively involved. I have seen refugee camps as big as cities, sprawling in the desert. How many men, women and children will be left by the wayside tomorrow? Must we always build walls to break the chain of human solidarity, separate peoples and protect the happiness of some from the misery of others? 

Writers: Isabelle Delannoy, Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Director: Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Human)
Budget: $12,000,000
IMDB rating: 8.6

17. Manufactured Landscapes (2006, Canada)
Documentary led by photographer Edward Burtynsky

I cannot possibly describe how enchanting, haunting and perversely beautiful these images are. With very little dialogue, we are taken on a constantly surprising and intriguing visual odyssey. This is a masterpiece which conveys tremendous emotion and coherent storytelling of a thoroughly visceral nature. Undeniably genuine yet stranger than science fiction!

Says Boston Globe: "…begs to be hung on the wall, studied, absorbed, and learned from" and also "taken as a whole, Manufactured Landscapes is a mesmerizing work of visual oncology, a witness to a cancer that is visible only at a distance but entwined with the DNA of everything we buy and everywhere we shop." LA Weekly and The Wall Street Journal both include it in their top 10 films of 2007.

Director: Jennifer Baichwal (Watermark)
Budget: unknown
IMDB rating: 7.3

18. Baraka (1992, USA)
Documentary by Ron Fricke

Here’s another film of astounding cinematography. The visuals are truly breathtaking. Shot on magnificent 70mm film in 26 countries across six continents, it is a rare privileged look at the world and if there is a specific message intended, it is pristinely subtle. There is no dialogue at all. The film uses slow-motion and time-lapse approaches to provide a kaleidoscopic experience to deepen perspective. It’s like a tool of extraordinary substance which you may use to further penetrate the mysteries of your world, whatever views you already subscribe to (or avoid); whatever methods you normally use to explore; to gain or consolidate your insight.

Try to see the 2008 reissue which was treated to an unparalleled 16-month digital remastering process which made it likely the highest quality commercial disc in history. Said Roger Ebert of the blu-ray edition: "the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined."

Samsara is its twin-sister film, released 19 years later. It was a toss-up; which to include in this list. You have to see one or the other! But my guess is that upon viewing one, you will insist upon seeing the other! And if all of this sounds intriguing to you, then I suggest you start with their elder step-sister films Koyaaniqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi  in that order and then leave Samsara for last.

Director: Ron Fricke (Samsara, Koyaanisqatsi)
Budget: $2,000,000
IMDB rating: 8.6

Short List:
Samsara (2011, international) Documentary by Ron Fricke


Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I haven't seen any of these - some of them sounds captivating.
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Joanne said...

I don't know any of these but they look intriguing.