Slowly, our society is learning that civil rights makes sense. Likewise, to a lesser degree, many have come to understand that women are entitled to the same rights as men. The one that seems to lag a bit behind is the notion that it is important to protect our environment so as to avoid extinction as a species. It seems that until you are slapped directly in the face with bad air and/or water in your backyard, many remain oblivious.
Mark Kitchell's "A Fierce Green Fire" is a film about our environment that takes a different look at environmental issues. It tries to trace a history of the environmental movement and divides the movement into distinct stages, pointing out heroes along the way. It's a sort of Hall of Fame for individuals and groups that put themselves on the line against overwhelming odds, either because they felt driven to based on the idea itself or because they were dragged into the fray, never having previously dreamed of being an environmentalist. Does it cover everything? Of course not. One would need far more time to put it all out there.
The film spends time examining the history of the Sierra Club, Rachel Carson's book "The Silent Spring", the Love Canal, Greenpeace, and Chico Mendes. It uses lots of archival footage that, depending on your age, will either be a revelation or a rehashing of old ground. It is split into four distinct acts, with celebrities narrating each part. Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, and Isabel Allende serve as the primary narrators.
Some of the scenes are difficult to watch, especially the segments on whaling. Government as a whole, specific politicians, and corporations are all royally skewered. The film presents a solid argument as to why it is imperative that everyone should be concerned with the conditions that surround them and their loved ones. "A Fierce Green Fire is far from great filmmaking, but it is effective in making its case. The problem is that it is preaching to the choir, who no doubt will find it inspiring and moving. Those not in the choir will never see it, so its desired impact will most likely be nil.
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