A Fierce Green Fire, directed by Mark Kitchell, and produced by Zoetrope Aubry Productions in 2012, is a documentary that takes a look at the history of the environmental movement in the U.S. and around the world. The film is split us into five acts, each narrated by a different person including Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Ashley Judd. Each act is an explorations of different facets of the environmental movement. They are conservation, pollution, alternative energies, issues in other countries, and climate change.
This film is an educational film. While watching it, I was reminded of the documentaries that I would watch in high school and there would be a worksheet to follow. This format seems to be what people imagine when they hear the word documentary. There are narrators, talking heads, and archival footage. The only original footage from the filmmaker, it seemed, was the talking heads sequences. All the other visuals that the viewer gets are archival footage. The entire film was different from anything that we have watched in the class so far. As of now we have seen documentaries exploring a single issue concerning the state of our environment whether it is fracking, dams, or global warming. This film gives the viewer an all encompassing perspective on the environmental movement in a different context than we are used to seeing. We usually look at from the side of what the issues are, and this is what’s in store for us in the future if we do not act. This film takes place on the other side. We see what has already been done with these critical issues and the movements that have taken place in our history. It is easy for some people to think that the environmental movement is new and maybe even a phase or a fad. This film exposes us to the truth which is that people have been recognizing these problems for decades, have been angry about it, and have done something about it. For example, the film focuses for a time on Love Canal, a neighborhood in upstate New York that was found to be sitting on 22,000 tons of buried toxic waste from the Hooker Chemical Company. This was causing numerous birth defects, miscarriages, and illnesses within the neighborhood. Lois Gibbs, a member of the Homeowner’s Association there decided that this was unacceptable and began a movement for federally funded relocation. She rallied the community and it made national news. She succeeded in getting the funding and this is only one example in the film of grassroots movements and demonstrations. One weakness I found with the film was that it seemed to be too much information packed into one film that was not effectively strung together. If Kitchell is going to split the film into five acts, he might as well turn the film into a miniseries in order to explore each act more in depth and get more perspectives and individual stories.
I really enjoyed this film and it was nice to watch a different type of film than we have been watching. Seeing the small things that people have started and watching them grow into something moving and powerful was incredible to watch. It also did a good job of reminding me that we are not of the woods yet when it comes to saving the planet. All the people in the documentary had their small victories and even some big victories, but there are still things to be done in 2015 and hopefully keeping the momentum that’s been here for decades going then small victories will eventually lead up to some more big victories.
Written By Corinne Sherwood