A review of a new doomer cult classic
Some years ago I was alerted to the problem of peak oil by a friend from Bellingham, Wash., way up in the upper left corner of the continental U.S. A nuclear physicist and astronomer, the smartest guy I know, and no doubt someone who uses the serial comma, he had this to say about a new movie called What a Way to Go: Life at the end of empire:
Before I committed the college to spend $500 for the viewing, I watched a copy a friend had purchased – all by myself. It was so powerful and so close to my own analysis over the last few years that I urged our dean/vp to just pay for the entire cost of the viewing, and he agreed. Seeing it the 2nd time was just as moving and powerful. For my taste, which I think you comprehend pretty well, it was the best movie on the big picture (peak oil, climate change, rate of extinctions, and population overshoot) a person can make. Bennett narrates the entire 2 hours, and except for rare moments of levity and some giggles, there was not a peep out of the 300+ people for the whole time. Less than 10 left early, far less than I had expected due to the intensity of the message. Audience response: awed, somber, grateful. In my mind, it is the movie to end movies on this subject and will go down someday as a classic. I’ve thought quite a bit about what people said and what the producers did to knit together the story and edit, and I can’t think of a way to improve it – zero criticism. I think Bennett’s a genius at what he does – but he’s a totally quiet, observant person up close, very hard to read.
The producers were pretty awestruck by the number of attendees. In Portland, they had around 70. This was the largest crowd by far of any they’ve had on their tour. Perhaps partly because the college paid the full bill and entry was free. But it looked like mostly a middle-class crowd that would have gladly paid $5 each. Probably most of the people there said they’d seen End of Suburbia and were peak-oil-aware. In the follow-on meeting … I noted that in spite of the full auditorium and good great turnout, that represents less than half a percent of Bellingham – which is probably close to the percent of Whatcom County that is peak oil aware – but at least those who attended now have more than awareness now, they understand the implications (die-off, big-time) during this century. You simply can’t watch that movie and miss that conclusion, and in my own experience that’s what it takes to motivate behavior change.
If you have a community theatre in town, you could urge the owner/operator to get a copy for periodic showing. We have a small theatre like that in a funky old building, probably seats around 100 or so, called the Pickford. The owner teaches part-time at the college (film, what else). I expect he’ll want to have some showings, and I expect they’ll make money on this one.