Film brings climate threat home

A new film highlighting the potential impact of inaction on climate change has received critical acclaim for driving the message home.

The Age of Stupid, from the director of McLibel Franny Armstrong, takes the audience 50 years into the future and reflects on the mistakes made by the previous generations that failed to do enough to tackle climate change.

The film stars a lonely Pete Postlethwaite as a man who has survived green Armageddon to look back at film footage from 2008, wondering why humanity failed to act when it saw the coming chaos.

It neatly sidesteps the two problems with that other climate change classic, An Inconvenient Truth – that there are factual errors and that it is not the most exciting of movies, in essence just Al Gore with his slideshow.

By presenting itself as a drama rather than a documentary, it can avoid the criticisms of questionable accuracy and exaggeration levelled against Gore’s film.

And Pete Postlethwaite’s acting prowess and on-screen charisma provide the movie with an engaging and sympathetic voice that isn’t always there in An Inconveninet Truth.

The film began life as a documentary-style project, but director Franny Armstrong quickly realised that was only going to find a niche audience.

“After three years simultaneously following six different stories in six wildly-different locations – New Orleans, Nigeria, UK, The Alps, India, Jordan – we held some test screenings of the rough cut,” she said.

“This was May 2007. Disaster. Only people obsessed with climate change could understand all our subtle links.

“To everyone else it was a hodgepodge of random stories. After despairing a while, I decided to introduce a fictional character, living in 2055, when the planet has been devastated and hundreds of millions of people killed.

“He is trawling through “archive” footage from now, trying to work out why we didn’t stop climate change when we still had the chance.

“There was only ever one actor in my mind and when I googled “Pete Postlethwaite + climate change” and learnt he was setting up a wind turbine in his garden, I thought we might just have a hope of persuading him…

“Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth did a fantastic job at bringing the public up-to-speed on the science of climate.

The Age of Stupid takes the baton from Gore and examines the moral, psychological and human consequences of our current way of life.

“We calculated the film’s carbon footprint by recording every journey – by foot, bicycle, motor boat, rowing boat, plane, train, car, rickshaw and helicopter – as well as all the electricity, gas, food and equipment used.

“It added up to 94 tonnes, which is equivalent to four Americans for a year or 185 patio heaters for a month. I definitely think our film is worth 185 patio heaters.”

The film also has a parallel campaign, Not Stupid with the stated aim of turning 250 million viewers into climate activists and putting pressure on decision makers in the run up to the Copenhagen climate change summit in December.

You can watch the trailer below:

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie