When a major criticism of your charitable awareness and outreach program is that it is too self-serving, it might not be best to make a film which seems to validate all those critiques. The conversation around Al Gore don’t really seem to have changed in any meaningful way since the release of manbearpig back in 2006. You can find articles and comments online why it’s an unfair narrative; one cooked up by the right-wing and their associate deniers to easily invalidate his actions without even acknowledging the science. It’s probably best to ignore it, make the film that you wanna make.
Still though, it stakes its place very early on. Over a montage of melting icebergs we hear the all the 2006 era hot takes about how the original documentary is hyperbolic and unscientific and wrong. That’s followed by a montage of vindication, all the worst case scenarios happening, years before they were expected to. You get that sense right off that this one ain’t gonna convince anyone. That’s okay though, it not really intended to, it touches on the science a little, enough to let you know that things have just got fucking worse, but the emphasis this time is more on that subtitle: Truth to Power.
It’s all about how we should be stepping up, doing more, not personally this time but publicly. How global endorsement don’t really mean nothing without political endorsement. The film sorta loosely structured into thirds best as I can place it. The first reiterates the goal, stirs up some small scale sentiment. It’s here we visit Greenland, some fairly catastrophic flooding in Florida. Then we move onto the work and action of Gore’s own Climate Reality Project over the past ten years, a focus on education, community and societal awareness. The third act is an extended bit about the Paris Climate Accord and Gore’s own efforts in getting it signed.
Which is to say that after the first act the film’s very much the Gore show. Which is cool, the man’s doing a lot of good work. It hinges on those words of his critics though, is it too self-involved? Honestly, it would most definitely come across that way were it not for one thing. Trump is the President. It’s almost a joke, but no amount of onanism that Gore could perform on camera could even compare to what that clown gets up to every day. It’s just about impossible to look stupid when compared to the fool leading the country. What you doing America?
Then, to cap it all off, dude makes the decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement just a few months before the film comes out. Honestly it feels real gauche to talk about real life in terms of dramatic plot twists and everything, but without it the film would suffer. See, it turns the portrayal of Gore from this crusading hero into his own sort of tragic figure. So concerned and myopic in his goals that he don’t realise the rot that is literally growing underfoot.
Literally the whole time we watching the dude scurry about all we can think is that he a man who is concerning himself too hard with the wrong thing. What would in most other respects be a hagiography, an unproblematic tale of this man’s triumph over everyone else’s ignorance becomes defined by his own. It helps that directors Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk don’t let him be untouchable. There’s this meeting he has quiet early on with some Indian government officials (it’s treated as a setup to the later Paris drama, but is presented contextless at the time) wherein they basically do everything but accuse him of using his agenda as a cover for western imperialism. It’s hard to disagree with them.
Now, there was a lot of talk in the production cycle here saying they’d only make a new one if it felt truly necessary. I guess it didn’t for a totally long time. We been reminded a lot recently that this ain’t a world where things are just going to get better. It’s impossible to ignore how unless we all take action things are gonna get markedly worse. It’s already happening, and in this way you could say the film ain’t just about the climate, it comes around to this point in the final minutes I think.
The climate was one of the few things which was just casually deteriorating. Now under the leadership of some real fuccbois everything is. Of course no film is gonna be enough, nothing is on its own. Go out and be and do and act, it’ll not be a nice world otherwise. On the news now I be seeing images of the Houston flooding, would that every pox on our society so visible. I’m scared, and I have a whole bunch of different priorities as they relate to my own country. I’m gonna fight more.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is currently screening in UK cinemas.