A caravan of camels near Tichit, Mauritania
HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
22nd June, 2009
Famous for his 'earth from above footage', photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand's new film is a feast for the eyes with a strong ecological message says Polly Cook
When you sit down to watch a documentary on climate change you expect pretty much the same thing. Impressive computerised images used to show where our planet might be in ten year's time. Crammed with science and graphs. Clever, and shocking but rarely doing anything different. This film however, that premiered in the world's richest cities on World Environment Day (5 June), is in a different league. I went along to the premiere in London's Trafalgar Square.
Most of the footage is shot from above - which makes for quite simply, awesome viewing. Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a French photographer famous for his ‘Earth from above' footage, filmed the documentary in 54 different countries all over the world, managing to reach and capture even the most remote of places.
Home is gracefully narrated by Glenn Close, the script is straightforward and content heavy, yet beautifully written, giving just the right about of information exactly when you want it. It gradually unfolds a story, starting with the birth of Earth, and then moves onto how it developed, how it flourished, and at the rate we're going, humanity becoming the eventual death of it.
But what sets this film apart from others, is how much material it covers. It didn't stop at filming polar bears swimming in vast open water or at someone taking a chainsaw to the roots of a tree in the middle of the Amazon. Bertrand used bird's eye view footage of the frozen lakes in Siberia, the practically non-existent River Jordon, the cultivation of soya in the rainforests and mass cattle herding. He captured the intertwining crammed roads in Los Angeles, the robotic ‘invention' of Dubai, and the soaring sky scrapers in China, built on land that only forty years ago was a fishing village. It is these shots, among so many others, makes Home the all encompassing, innovative film it is.
Bertrand looks at the bigger picture - not just what is happening, but how and why. He explores our greed for meat, oil, wealth and the utter ignorance that surrounds development. He presents information people wouldn't know from just watching the odd TV programme. Sure, we all know oil is running out. But Home confronts the problems with eucalyptus monocultures, shrimp farming and how climate change is creating more social divides between rich and poor than ever before. In fact, there isn't much this film doesn't touch on.
However, for the wealth of information given to the audience in this documentary, it is not surprising that there are moments (for me it was when I saw a shanty town being shadowed by an oil plant) it seems there is no hope, and you feel like jacking it all in and giving up trying.
That is, until the dystopian mood of the film mutates into something quite different, declaring over and over 'It is too late to be pessimistic'. It concludes presenting a whole reel of things humanity has done in an attempt to stop climate change: responsible consumerism, wind farms, solar power and climate change education. But most importantly, the fact that most of the world is now at least recognising we have a problem.
When the credits start rolling, you come away with these fantastic images floating around in your head, reminding you of how beautiful this planet actually is. What's more, you want to do your bit to save it. At least, that is the hope.
Sky Movies subscribers will then be able to watch HOME on demand via Sky Anytime in HD and on Sky Player.
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