Disappointment in the results of the 2000 election was partially assuaged when Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” screened in 2006. That was more than a decade ago and the former vice president hasn’t stopped his campaign to raise national and international awareness about global warming.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song. “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” is directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk and was originally focused on Gore’s activities up to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. When the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19, Barrack Obama was still president and government websites still carried information about global warming. That started changing the very next day, following President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Under the current presidency, the sequel, “An Inconvenient Sequel” took on added urgency. But in June, when Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, the film suddenly became outdated. A spokesperson for Paramount Pictures told TheWrap that the documentary would have to be re-edited to update and expand Trump’s visibility and the controversial decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The updated documentary rolls out Friday in a nationwide release, which includes the Pasadena Arclight.
The film begins with Gore standing on ice. Environmentally aware audiences will be reminded of the photographer James Balgo’s 2012 documentary “Chasing Ice” which showed his Extreme Ice Survey, which includes a scene of a glacier calving at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland. More recently, a smaller documentary that premiered at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival in June, “Stella Polaris Ulloriarsuaq,” looked at the microcosm of Greenland and how global warming was affecting culture. Greenland is one aspect, but so are the islands that may be underwater as ocean levels rise. Such islands are mentioned only in passing, while closer to home the problem of rising waters in Florida is addressed.
“An Inconvenient Sequel” makes it clear that global warming transcends politics. It is not an issue of just the Democratic Party. Deep in the heart of Texas, Gore visits a small politically conservative town that has turned to wind and solar power. That’s because, despite being in an oil- and gas-producing state, it made economic sense.
Gore then visits Georgetown and shakes hands with the Republican mayor, Dale Ross, who is leading his city toward 100 percent renewable energy. Climate change isn’t even part of the argument; long-term economic planning is.
The documentary avoids other environmental questions. In California, for instance, wind power is killing birds, including the endangered California condor. Research and breeding programs at the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos have enabled the bird that became extinct in the wild in 1987 to again fly the skies of California, Utah and Arizona. But wind turbines possibly endanger the birds and solar projects may also disturb endangered desert species like tortoises. There is life in the deserts and nature’s balance is precarious.
Still, these other issues are minor compared to the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The documentary shows how Gore’s efforts over the last decade have produced an army of climate changer activists and how Gore, with help from a major California industry, was able get one major nation to change its stance and sign the Paris Agreement.
“An Inconvenient Sequel,” sums up what propelled many scientists to march against the Trump administration, not once but twice — first for science, then for climate change. For Pasadena, this documentary, with its slick graphics and quick re-editing, is a must-see because the issue of climate change goes beyond party lines and is again, like “An Inconvenient Truth,” a call for more science, not silence.