Director Bonni Cohen, John Shenk
Starring Al Gore, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump (archival)
On the day a trillion tonnes of ice snapped off Antarctica, I sat down to watch An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
A decade after the award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, this follow-up to looks at the efforts made on a worldwide scale to address man-made climate change, the rise of extreme climate events, and the work of Al Gore in promoting an awareness of issues.
An Inconvenient Sequel looks at the success of the first film, addresses some of the criticism levelled against it, and examines the growth of Environmental activism (specifically those organisations linked to Gore). It also demonstrates both the action and inaction taken by governments worldwide, and events surrounding the 2016 Paris Agreement.
And, then there’s Donald Trump (you can guess how that plays out).
The truth about An Inconvenient Sequel, is that the message is more powerful than the vehicle conveying it. This documentary lives in the shadow of it’s predecessor, rarely seeming to clearly convey the anger and outrage it wishes to express. At times it acts as a clarion call. When Gore is in full flight, it is hard not to be impressed by the oratory skills of the man. His fiery rhetoric is stoked by the fires of true passion and belief in his cause, and it clearly comes through on the big screen. However An Inconvenient Sequel dilutes this into too many disparate threads, lessening the power of it’s simple message and muddling the flow of the narrative.
In some ways this is reflective of the issues facing the world at the moment. How do you prioritise climate change, when terrorism is front and centre in the news headlines? Why build a renewable infrastructure, when more traditional methods will prove cheaper for your impoverished population? An Inconvenient Sequel provides a glimpse into these issues, as well as the political horse trading that goes on behind the scenes for many of the environmental agreements. It’s an interesting fly on the wall view at a world we are rarely given access to, but it does slow the impetus of the message.
It also provides an interesting behind the scenes glance into that of Al Gore himself. Here though it walks a fine line between demonstrating an interesting, impassioned, and charismatic character, and treading towards a cult of personality. In short, Gore front and centre is good. He’s a gifted and passionate orator with a strong knowledge base. However, too much, and the focus shifts more towards him than the message. It’s a line this documentary definitely crosses.
As such, An Inconvenient Sequel is not going to win too many converts from across the divide. Instead it is going to act as a temporary reminder, rallying the base, rather than spreading the message.