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'An Inconvenient Sequel' presents Truth To Power

Stevie Emilia
Stevie Emilia

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, August 25, 2017 | 09:37 am
'An Inconvenient Sequel' presents Truth To Power

Astounded: Former US vice president Al Gore stares at a glacier that is cracking in Greenland. (Paramount Pictures/File)

When An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006, the documentary, which centers on former United States vice president Al Gore’s campaign to educate the public on global warming, sent shockwaves around the world with its warnings of imminent environmental catastrophe brought by climate change.

Gore followed his gut and his heart, putting everything he had into an issue that had long lit a fire within him ­— confronting the increasingly alarming prospect of a global climate crisis that could literally signal the end of human civilization.

At that time, the climate crisis itself was at a crossroads, with scientific consensus coalescing around the costs to mankind, the global economy and the planet if zero efforts were made to cut down on man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. Then, the scope of the threat was just breaking through to the public and the fossil fuel industry was putting up strong resistance.

The inspiring film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, won two Oscars and contributed to taking the issue of climate change into popular culture, propelling Gore to being named a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the United Nation’s panel of climate scientists in 2007.

Its sequel, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which hits theaters here on Aug. 25, shows how far the battle to reverse the effects of climate change has come in 10 years. It serves as the next chapter of the story as people see not just accelerating change, but also the emergence of new battles. Simply put, if the first movie was the wakeup call, millions of people are now wide awake.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to PowerAn Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Paramount Pictures/File)

Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the sequel sets off in a new direction. It follows Gore as he continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate leaders while influencing international climate policy.

The award-winning directors (The Island President; Audrie & Daisy) offer a fresh perspective and sense of warmth to the sequel, bringing in their skilled eyes for cinematography to make the story, which may not be easy to tell, entertaining.

Cameras follow Gore behind the scenes in a direct cinema style, connecting the audience to the subject while revealing the complexity of human relations in a manner as electrifying and dramatic as fiction.

The sequel reveals both private and public moments as well as funny, poignant and unscripted, off-the-cuff moments, as Gore explains that, while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.

Cameras also shadow Gore on his journey across Greenland, India, Europe, Asia and the US, navigating through corridors of power as well as “in the trenches” with survivors, scientists, unlikely leaders and ordinary people moved to take extraordinary actions.

Unexpected scenes intimately show Gore’s day-to-day efforts — he peels off his soggy socks after wading through ocean-flooded Miami; he escapes traffic by taking a crowded Paris subway; he engages in power-brokering roles with top officials such as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres; and he listens to heart-wrenching stories from typhoon survivors in Tacloban, Philippines.

The film also allows viewers to “be there” with Gore as he visits the Swiss Camp research station in Greenland that monitors the movement of ice sheets. There, he learns the station itself has collapsed several times over the last decade because the ice on which it is anchored is melting so precipitously.

Climate talk: Al Gore discusses efforts to reverse the effects of climate change in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.Climate talk: Al Gore discusses efforts to reverse the effects of climate change in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. (Paramount Pictures/File)

One moving scene at Russell Glacier in Greenland shows Gore standing, his face in awe, while taking in what he sees — ice cracks off into a river that leads to the ocean, then says he can see that the glacier is in worse condition compared to last time he visited.

The film shows images of the climate change impacts splashed in the media — in the US alone, Louisianans in their cars are saved from drowning in a flood; ocean fish swim in Florida streets; and sci-fi-like “rain bombs” deluge Arizona. In India, a woman falls into a melting road. These scenes show that the urgency to solve the climate crisis is as great as ever.

Throughout the film, there is a sense of urgency and optimism, as well as a sense of connection with Gore’s passion, courage, resilience, heart and, most of all, his unique ability to inspire others.

While the first film may have caused deep concern, the sequel, while still pointing to extreme droughts, record-breaking downpours, melting Arctic ice and worrying scientific facts as evidence of climate change, has a more hopeful message in the world’s ability to solve the crisis.

Heart-warming scenes show, in the past 10 years, a low-carbon economy is emerging at an unprecedented pace, driven by innovative technologies and growing economic upsides. In fact, the year 2016 marked an all-time high in investments in renewable energy across the globe.

The sequel points out some huge climate success stories, including cities around the world achieving the goal of using 100 percent renewable electricity and how global investments in renewable electricity generation now exceed fossil fuels with markets increasingly turning away from them.

The film’s message is clear. There is hope that, together, we can solve the climate crisis. While economics alone do not paint the entire picture, the trends put the writing on the wall: the future belongs to renewables.

Just like the first film, the sequel delivers a powerful message for the world to hear. As Gore says: “The next generation, if they live in a world of floods and storms and rising seas and droughts and refugees by the millions escaping unlivable conditions, destabilizing countries around the world, they would be well justified in looking back and asking, ‘What were you thinking?’”

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An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

(Paramount Pictures, Participant Media; 98 minutes)

Directed by Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

Cast: Al Gore, John Kerry, Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump, George W. Bush.

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