The Age of Stupid

Peter Bradshaw

The Guardian

Franny Armstrong's low-budget climate change documentary is sometimes scrappy. Some may find its sci-fi premise annoying: Pete Postlethwaite plays the last guy alive in a post-apocalyptic, climate-fried world, introducing a preserved video archive of news clips and interviews filmed way back in the first decade of the 21st century. He muses sorrowfully on how humankind could have been so stupid, ignoring the environmental warning signs. Now, I've got to be quite honest and say that I found this concept a touch annoying and teenagery sometimes, and The Age of Stupid does not have the focus and weight of Al Gore's outstanding An Inconvenient Truth. I must also register the point on which I timidly dissent from my colleague, George Monbiot: the practice of calling those who dispute climate change "deniers" - do they have to be tarred with a Nazi brush?

Yet the passion, urgency and punch of this rough-and-ready film is real enough. It's refreshing too. The cinema and its attendant media-comment industry appear to have endless space for every sort of smoothly mediocre irrelevancy in fact and fiction. There should be room for an essay on the most screamingly important problem that we all now face.

Armstrong's wide-ranging film pulls together a disparate collection of witnesses, including a robustly unrepentant oil executive in New Orleans, who is nonetheless shown becoming reflective after Katrina destroyed everything he owned - seeing how political incompetence and inaction can usher in disaster.

The film's most intriguing section deals with the ferocious and acrimonious battle in this country centring on wind farms. This is a battle that the climate-change protesters are losing, because opponents in the shires have mobilised a formidable activist army of their own, and they're objecting on environmental grounds: that the windmills are a massive eyesore. Armstrong has one exquisitely horrible moment when a haughty anti-wind farm woman sneeringly corrects her opponent for using the word "additive" when he means "additional": a fenceline moment of political warfare if ever there was one. But how to win this argument? Like it or not, the anti-wind farmers are assuming the underdog-protest cachet. Yet would they be allowed to prevail against dozens of new nuclear reactors - Gordon Brown's favoured approach to the problem?

The Age of Stupid, like other activist documentaries, may face putdowns from those who find it insufficiently sophisticated or consensual. But it deserves a hearing. To mangle a well-known phrase: Rome is burning and Franny Armstrong is fiddling the right tune.

acrimonious - zjadliwy

cachet - styl

consensual - kompromisowy

disparate - niewspółmierny, odmienny

dissent - nie zgadzać się, mieć odmienne zdanie

exquisitely - wspaniale; wykwintnie; nienagannie

eyesore - paskudztwo

ferocious - dziki, brutalny

formidable - onieśmielający, budzący grozę

haughty - wyniosły, hardy, pyszałkowaty

irrelevancy - nieistotność; brak związku

mangle - przekręcić, kaleczyć

mediocre - mierny, lichy

muse - dumać, rozmyślać

premise - przesłanka

preserved - zachowany, zakonserwowany

prevail - zwyciężać, brać górę

punch - uderzenie

putdown - obelga, afront

robustly - mocno, rubasznie

scrappy - niespójny; sklecony

sneeringly - szyderczo

tarred with the same brush - o takich samych wadach; to be tarred with the same brush - mieć te same wady

timidly - trwożnie, nieśmiało

underdog - przegrywający, słabszy

unrepentant - nie okazujący skruchy, zatwardziały

usher (in) - inicjować, zapoczątkować

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