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10/30/2009

The other major 'save the Earth' documentary

A lot of us are going increasingly "green" these days.

In the name of saving the environment and -- among the more cynical of us, trading corporate printing expenses for our own -- we're forgoing paper bank statements and the like for on-line versions.

Have you ever wondered where and when all this business about protecting Mother Earth from us humans began?

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Robert Stone did.  "Earth Days," generously peppered with U.S. presidents vowing to clean up the environment before it's too late, traces the movement back to what Stone refers to as "post-war rustlings in the 1950s."

The impressive array of concerned citizens facing Stone's camera includes Stewart Udall (Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson), Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, environmentalist Hunter Lovins, Apollo 9 astronaut Russell Schweickart and others.

"Earth Days" doesn't feel as, shall we say, lecturery as Davis Guggenheim's global warming doomsday documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" featuring Professor (and former vice president) Al Gore.

This renewed cinematic effort by Stone ("Radio Bikini," "Oswald's Ghosts") to light a fire under all of us to do more to save the only planet we have is just as scholarly, however.  Perhaps more so.  Concerned citizens, many of whom are experts in their respective fields, interest, even fascinate at first.  As the films rolls across the screen, however, a certain tediousness sets in.

Sincere interviewees, some presented too often, tend to morph into talking heads after a while.  The message is no less dire, of course.  It's just that "Earth Days" can't quite stoke the interest as much as "An Inconvenient Truth" managed three years ago.

I'm guessing I won't be the only one sitting in the dark feeling a little guilty about letting my mind wander to mundane matters as "Earth Days" reminds us that "society dropouts" frolicked (sometimes sans clothing) to rage against technology's machine in the 1960s.

Eventually, of course, "Earth Days" gets around to the source of the environmentally friendly first Earth Day of 1970.

There are some things to learn there.  But if this environmentally aware British filmmaker (raised both in Great Britain and the U.S.) has his facts straight, a little matter like saving the world is a dilemma too long-term for most politicians to embrace.

We live in a world of constantly decreasing attention spans, according to many experts in such matters.

What "Earth Days" reminds us of right now, right here is that grave environmental issues are not likely to go away.  At least not until we, or whatever human population is alive at the time, go away with them. 

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