The Age Of Stupid

The Age Of Stupid


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

The Age of Stupid weaves several strands of documentary together in the hope that it will convince you that climate change is a current and pressing problem that needs immediate attention.

It is 2055. The world is wrecked. Sitting in a museum of salvaged art and knowledge a lone archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) provides narration and comment. He talks the audience through a lattice of documentary, news footage of extreme weather events that have plagued the last ten years, and informative animations. The stories of several people from different countries and cultures provide a view of the causes of and problems associated with climate change.

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There is Layefa Malemi, who ekes out a living fishing in the Niger basin. She dreams of becoming a doctor. The waters she fishes in are polluted by oil companies which have not brought the wealth and the social improvements to Nigeria that they promised. Fernand Pareau, at 82 probably the oldest working mountain guide in the Alps, bemoans the loss of the glaciers in the Chamonix valley. A son in one of India's industrial dynasties, Jeh Wadia, sets up GoAir, a low cost airline, with the hope of providing air travel to the masses...

Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud are two children whose lives have been destroyed by the war in Iraq. A wind farm developer, Piers Guy, battles unsuccessfully with anti wind farm protesters. And Alvin Duvernay, a geologist for Shell, talks about how he chose to stay in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. In their different ways all of these people's stories are engaging. Their charisma shines over the bleak subject matter, counterpointing Postlethwaite's narration.

The way that these stories are interwoven, and their interspersal with archive news reports, prevents The Age of Stupid from becoming condescending in the way that other environmental documentaries have had a tendency to do. This works because the stories are genuinely interesting in the way they present oil as something that affects everyone in the world. The differing perspectives of the participants show that our relationship with oil is complex. They don't paint oil as a demon but as something that is precious and not to be squandered.

The film successfully presents the case that man made climate change can be dramatically reduced if action is taken in the imminent future. If left unchecked it will ruin the planet and the lives of billions of people. The film is informative throughout. By using the stories of real people it, for the most part, avoids feeling like a lecture.

Reviewed on: 20 Mar 2009
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Docudrama about a future archivist looking back on the events that devastated Earth.
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Director: Franny Armstrong

Writer: Franny Armstrong

Starring: Pete Postlethwaite, Jamila Bayyoud, Adnan Bayyoud, Alvin DuVernay, Piers Guy, Layefa Malini, Fernand Pareau, Jeh Wadia

Year: 2009

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


Glasgow 2009

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