The crowd is hushed in anxious anticipation as the man they wait for makes his way through the maze of the backstage corridors. The fervor builds as the man stops to shake another’s hand, pose for a photograph. We can only see him from behind. We can barely make out who he is. Until, the wait comes to its end. Ladies and gentlemen, the man you’ve all been waiting for, the self-described man who used to be the next president of the United States, Al Gore! And, the crowd explodes in a respectfully enthusiastic show of admiration and reasonable applause.
In AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, former Vice-President of the United States, Al Gore, plays host to a lecture series audience on the impending impact global warming will have on our planet in his and your potential life time. Although it may sound odd in passing, Gore’s lecture series has been given around the globe, hundreds of times. In the time since he lost the bid for presidency, he has rededicated his life and passion to the subject of global warming and made it his priority to increase the awareness of its importance to people everywhere. Contrary to what one might expect from a lecture given by Gore, for example a long snooze, this particular series is actually thoroughly engaging. Of course, the subject matter itself is compelling enough as Gore walks us through image after time-lapsed image demonstrating a shockingly sparse amount of ice where once there was plenty, and numerous graphs, be them bar or line, showing significant hikes in temperature and carbon dioxide emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere from recent years. No matter the topic, one needs a compelling host to make sure the message hits where it should. The shock of the advanced progression of global warming may end up taking a back seat to the complete personality readjustment of Al Gore as he is charming, witty and sarcastic without being obnoxious and ultimately very comfortable, both with the material and himself. One can’t help but wonder why he didn’t demonstrate this side of himself when running for the presidency in the first place.
One also can’t help but wonder this because filmmaker Davis Guggenheim breaks up Gore’s seminar with allusion to Gore’s past, from his upbringing to the election debacle in the state of Florida in 2000. The goal is to demonstrate how Gore came to be crusading for global warming awareness. Drawing a link between the death of his sister from lung cancer, due to years and years of excessive cigarette smoking and the general population’s ignorance towards the effects of global warming and our need for tragedy to inspire action is one thing. Drawing a link between a near-fatal car accident his son had when he was very young and Gore’s conviction towards the importance of human life makes sense but detracts from the focus of the film. Gore’s motivation or interest in the subject seems almost entirely irrelevant as the film is about the presentation, not the guy giving it. Not only does this filler detract but it also taints. Bringing up America’s decision to ultimately vote George W. Bush into office seems somewhat damning, as if to suggest that global warming is not getting any better because of you, America. You voted for someone who doesn’t care about the environment and therefore disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which the film says was much worse due to the warming of the ocean water it traveled over between Florida and New Orleans, might not have been as bad had you voted in a president that cared about the planet. I’m sure Guggenheim isn’t trying to make such strong accusations but the implication is still made through his editing and the film falls off track occasionally as a result.
AN INCONVENEINT TRUTH is being dubbed the “Must-See” documentary of the summer, picking up where past hits THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS and FARENHEIT 9/11 have left off. I have a difficult time agreeing with this praise. I do believe it to be must-see but this is because the content is important and the facts need to heard. And albeit an enjoyable experience, the content cannot be all that it is judged upon as it is still a film and it is one that is flawed.