One of our local newspaper columnists wrote a column for Earth Day, highlighting and recommending several eco-minded documentary DVD's. He described some as dire warnings, some as helpful "how-to" lessons in sustainable living and ecological repair, and others as personal portraits on eco-warriors who range from the eccentric to the silly.

Here is his list of recommended titles:

THE 11th HOUR: With Leonardo DiCaprio as producer-narrator, this doc debuted at Cannes 2007, where some idiot journalists took the debate off-topic by grilling DiCaprio on the eco-cost of coming to Cannes (footnote: he flew commercial, not by private jet as many stars do). Co-directors Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners pack the doc heavily with info, mostly negative warnings, much of it presented with dazzling (if depressing) visuals. But there are glimmers of hope in the doc. And the excellent DVD looks even more on the bright side. It contains a series of interviews that are helpful "Eureka!" moments.

SHARKWATER: Canadian director-diver-cinematographer Rob Stewart made this doc as a wondrous display of his passion for sharks. He made the film look stunningly beautiful. Then he "lucked" into a series of dangerous situations that allowed him, with eco-activist Paul Watson, to highlight the political intrigue surrounding the wanton destruction of 90% of the world's sharks. The making-of featurette on the DVD shows what they were up against -- and it was scary.

GARBAGE WARRIOR: Filmmaker Oliver Hodge examines the absurd life and times of radical architect Michael Reynolds, who has spent 30 years in the New Mexico desert developing "Earth Ship" houses that are off the grid, made of recycled materials and sustainable. Turns out Reynolds is not crazy, even if he looks and acts weird. And it turns out we could learn a lot from him.

EDEN AT THE END OF THE WORLD: Made by National Geographic and narrated by Jeremy Irons, this conventional but gorgeous doc explores Patagonia, one of the world's most pristine yet threatened wilderness areas. While the narration is overwritten, the images are stunning, and so is the conservation message.

HUMAN FOOTPRINT: Another National Geographic special. Folksy is good but this one is too American-centric. Yet it does bring an important issue into perspective. Using real-life materials, such as thousands of pints of milk lined up down the street, the filmmakers put in visual terms exactly how much an American couple consumes in a lifetime. That means they measure the waste and source materials, demonstrating what it takes to maintain a lifestyle.

SIX DEGREES COULD CHANGE THE WORLD: As another National Geographic special, this one is narrated by Alec Baldwin. Using what appears to be sound science and not political manipulation, it breaks down, step-by-step, degree-by-degree, the changes that may happen with global-climate change. This is a major contribution to the debate.

PLANET IN PERIL: A CNN WORLDWIDE INVESTIGATION: CNN puts three of their stars -- newsman Anderson Cooper, medical expert Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet naturalist Jeff Corwin -- to work on this two-part special doc. Some of it, such as the raid on a Thai market where endangered species are illegally sold, is overly concerned with dramatizing procedures, not the problem. But, overall, with filming in 13 countries and in-depth interviews with experts who ground the information in practical science, the DVD has real value.

LIVING WITH ED: SEASON 1: Ed Begley, Jr. allowed cameras into his house to chronicle his eco-obsessions and record his wife Rachelle's skepticism. It is funny, fun stuff -- and there are life lessons here for true environmentalists looking to take action in everyday life.


Holly said...

I have the 11th hour on my list of DVDs to see. Good info Judy! :)

Sandy C said...

It's 3:30 am so I'm not going to read all that 'cause I won't remember it but....it's good to see that you're "zenlike". Wow! Someone from our family is zenlike. Interesting! I didn't think our mouths/minds stopped moving long enough to get to a zenlike place so I'm really, really impressed! ROFL!!

Alissa said...

I watched the Human Footprint on Nat. Geo. the other night. Very interesting.

Bridget said...

Love your list! I have written them down to check out!!

Happy Earth Day!

Kelly said...

Great post! I'll have to ckeck some of these out for sure... IN COLOUR downstairs :)