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Posted Mon Sep 14 2009: from :
From the ApocaDesk
As a film, The Age of Stupid is a strange brew, a combination science fiction drama and present-day documentary. The premise of the narrative makes it work: An archivist in the year 2050 sits atop the now permanently melted Arctic in a structure that houses all the great art and books and media of the history of humanity. The Archivist, played by Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects), muses aloud about the imminent destruction of the habitat, as he sifts through the footage of the past, trying to figure out the answer to an essential question.
Why didn't we try and save ourselves?
The story is a pastiche of snippets of CNN and Fox broadcasters and other media moments, but six main narratives are threaded together, tied more or less loosely by the idea of oil. These are real people, and they represent a broad cross-section of age and geographical location, from the New Orleans-based Alvin Duvernay to 8 year old Jamila, an Iraqi refugee living, homeless, in Jordan.
A third main thread of the story -- in addition to the archivist and the real humans -- are numerous animated pieces that info-graphically and entertainingly tell the story of how mass consumerism and obsession with oil combined to lead to the ruination of the planet.
Three-fold, these elements of The Age of Stupid hold together, anchored by the sweet sad face of The Archivist.
Director Franny Armstrong tackled one facet of consumerism in McLibel and now she's grappling with a larger -- well, the largest == canvas. It was four years in the making, and funded by a "crowd" - i.e. numerous smaller investors, and her film is an entertaining and harrowing look at now through eyes of later.
According to the filmmakers, the documentary started off as a Soderbergh Traffic-style narrative, weaving the six real folks into one complex story called Crude. Knowing that may help you view the film; for me, giant issues of habitat collapse are missing from The Age of Stupid -- most notably the erosive effects of corporate farming, and the potential for potential pandemic plague to be cooked up its cauldrons. Then there's over-population, only slightly brushed against in the film. But understanding that Armstrong and company were hoping to stay on message with oil helps focus an otherwise potentially overwhelming subject.
So as a film, The Age of Stupid works, and as a piece of persuasion... well, you had me at stupid. The title is fun to say, and can morph into any number of entertaining phrases: "Have you seen 'Stupid' yet?" "I thought 'Stupid' was brilliant." "Hey, I'll join the 'Stupid' team!"
The Age of Stupid is going its own way in hopes of building a team of Stupids to help. On Monday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 (Eastern time), a New York-based live presentation of the film will feature the movie, followed by a panel discussion between the filmmakers, scientists and environmental leaders, with Radiohead's Thom Yorke wrapping up the event with an acoustic performance of the film's title track. This gathering will be as green as green can be, from a carbon emission standpoint, and will tape-delay broadcast to more than 30 countries. Hey, we're all in this together, or, rather, all going down together if we don't take the film's message to heart.
Ultimately, to rate this film, to recommend it, to criticize is absurd. On the brink of the December climate gathering in Copenhagen, on the precipice of disaster, shall we quibble about the entertainment value of a piece of culture like The Age of Stupid? The real question is: Does it contribute to the necessary awakening of humanity?
Our stupid answer is: It sure does, stupid.
For a complete list of screens -- there are more than 440 theaters involved -- go to And please, carpool, bicycle or use public transportation. Because driving yourself, alone, to the theater would just be ... well, you know. For more info, go to
[Read more stories about: anthropogenic change, death spiral, global warming, holyshit, stupid humans, deniers, short-term thinking]
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