Sunday, December 17, 2006

DVD: An Inconvenient Truth

• The former V.P. delivers a sobering wake-up call.

Genre: Documentary
DVD released: Nov. 20, 2006
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Cast: Al Gore, the planet
Verdict: &&&&

It's hard to believe that the man who tells the absorbing planet-in-peril story of An Inconvenient Truth was the presidential candidate who droned through speeches about lock boxes. In the six years since, he has found his voice, a compelling gravitas that eluded the man who used to be the next president. An Inconvenient Truth is perhaps the most important thing he will accomplish, and it might never have happened had the Supreme Court elected him rather than the White House's current occupant, whose name is never uttered in this film. That's important because, as Gore notes, global warming is a moral issue, not a political one: The choices are to do the right thing or suffer the dire consequences. The movie consists of the multimedia presentation that he muses he's probably given a thousand times. In theory, it ought to be as flat as his lock box campaign speeches, but there's an urgency to the facts that grabs the viewer by the throat and does not relent. It encompasses those topics you expect — Hurricane Katrina, record high temperatures, emissions from automobiles — and many I didn't know about, such as softening of the permafrost in Alaska, melting in Greenland and Antarctica, shrinking of the coral reef waters, and the drying up of the Amazon. It carries its own weight, but director Davis Guggenheim brings heart to the movie through interwoven personal, confessional asides by Gore. Think he doesn't understand why some business interests work to plant doubts in the public by consistently referring to global warming as "theory"? Listen to him speak about his family's involvement in tobacco farming and his sister's death of lung cancer. These interludes effectively reinforce the notion that this is not a matter of Republican against Democrat, tree-huggers versus rich executives, or theory versus science, but of family, virtue and, ultimately, our very existence. // DVD notes // Extras include a 30-minute update on developments since the movie was made, plus commentaries, a making-of, and the music video for Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up."

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