(Review of film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand,
GoodPlanet Foundation President)
Quick reflections on movie HOME.
5.45pm, and the phone rings. It is Peter, an extraordinary man who has
set up a radio network of microbroadcasters in the Wellington region of
New Zealand so citizens can broadcast discussions and lectures on all
manner of topics to their neighbourhoods. He asks if I have heard of a
movie called HOME? I say no and he suggests I should watch it. He warns
me I may disapprove of its commentary but says it contains most fabulous
photography of our planet.
We have not
spoken to each other for several months and as is our want we
immediately engaged in deep discussion about all manner of topics.
Suddenly it is 6.25 and I have missed the bus to central Wellington city
where I am due to dine with my son-in-law John at 7pm. Wellington, the
Capital of NZ, is run by the mineral oil czars - cars rule and buses are
an hour apart. I change into tidy clothes and run as fast as my 61 year
old body will take me the two miles up and over the hills from Houghton
Bay to Newtown, jump a bus downtown (standing room only) and am somehow
seated with John in the restaurant at 7.07pm.
John is excited.
He is from Colombia, South America, and the mother of his child there
had emailed him with the link to this amazing movie she had just watched
on Utube. He had just watched it and was really keen that I and others
should see it. It was in Spanish and he hoped there is an English
translation of it. I was able to assure them there is and I, as of less
than an hour ago, could provide the link.
Such is the
integrated and fragmented nature of our world. We can communicate our
passions in microseconds around the planet and yet still use precious
resources in most wasteful and barbaric ways. And this is a central
message of the movie.
HOME is many
tapestries within a tapestry celebrating the exquisite beauty that
exists on this planet. The filmmakers create shifting layers of
patterns, transposing and transforming, a visual reminder that all is
change and in change there is great order and profusion.
And amidst these
layers of shifting patterns are layers of patterns caused by human
activities. Cities unfurl like the branches on trees. Factories spew
gases like volcanoes. Forests melt like the Arctic ice in the summer.
Fields form geometric strata like crystals. The land glows with lights
like the sky. One is transformed into the other amidst a universal flux,
the ebb, flow and weave of the dance of energy, the rising and passing
of all forms. The photography captures and celebrates the continual
change in all its multitude of manifestations. It forms a potent
reminder of the exquisite and bounteous creativity of existence even as
it confronts us with the probable reality that we each have creative
roles as stewards regardless of whether we accept or deny this truth.
is an amazing story, a timeless epic, a dynamic dance, a celebration of
energy in all its bounty and variety.
As such it is testimony to the capacity of Homo sapiens to
reflect and embrace the cosmic potential and I am grateful.
The clear objective of the movie is to remind us that all is interconnected and we humans are part of the all. The film’s maker (Yann Arthus-Bertrand, GoodPlanet Foundation President) writes this letter on Utube enjoining us:
Fundation : http://www.goodplanet.org/en
Will HOME achieve
its objectives? Perhaps it will if people view it without the sound and
if they do not read Yann’s letter.
The GoodPlanet website has a
movie forum which invites us to:
“Debate and take action together
Leave scepticism to others and take action. And let’s make this
forum a space that is 100% positive.”
I know I am at grave risk of being consigned to the bin with the “others” label on it, particularly by those who do not know or cannot accept the insights of my work.
In brief I accept
the fact that Human Beings have a great capacity to transcend their egos
and embrace their roles as stewards amidst change. I also accept the
fact that we have an equally great capacity to deny our roles as
stewards amidst change and can create very sophisticated mechanisms of
I have a tool, the
Sustainability Principle of Energy that enables us to transcend
our egos and predict whether our use of key symbols will sustain or
destroy us in the long term. I have used it to generate an
inventory of symbol uses classified as to their tendency to
reflect and generate acceptance or denial of reality (all is change).
The inventory is an indicator of whether a symbol use enhances or
destroys our capacity to experience the state of science. It is also an
inventory of whether a symbol use reflects sanity or psychosis in the
When I apply the
Sustainability Principle to HOME I find it produces two profoundly
different results. The photography evidences considerable science and
sanity. The commentary actively destroys science and evidences
considerable psychosis. The
former works to connect us with reality, the latter works to disconnect
from reality. The former works to integrate our spirits with all, the
latter works to disintegrate our spirits. In other words the commentary
and the photography work against each other.
evokes marvellous images of the wondrous process by which our planetary
system formed up in such away that there came into existence the
thermodynamic balances required to enable life forms on Earth. It
reflects the exquisite dance between continual global warming and global
cooling that we enjoy. The commentary then denied all this by describing
the loss of this dance as global warming and equated global warming with
warming up, a recipe for misery.
The photography evokes memorable images of mineral gas being flared off in a frame of trees, reminding us of the origins of fossil fuels. The commentary then described mineral oil as “oil” and “oil” as energy. Certainly oil in all its forms is energy and so is every other potential form in the universe(s). And every form of oil has a name.
“mineral oil = energy” is the language of banker oligarchy who
control the extraction and distribution of our fossil fuel resources.
The equation is in active denial of change for the burning of the
resource to produce useful forms of energy almost invariably involves
transformation of the atmosphere. The
scenes in the movie of mineral fuels being flared off clearly involve
air and the use of the “mineral oil = energy” symbol actively
excludes the atmosphere from the energy equation.
reflects a bounteous reality in which energy is continually transformed
and is by its very nature constantly renewed. The commentary denies this
reality by talking of stuff called “renewable energy”. If the
Principle of the Conservation of Energy holds, then this talk is the
stuff of psychosis.
captures the vast organic forces of Earth’s atmosphere. It reminds us
of the powerful thermodynamics involved as we see how great cloud forms
emerge and dissipate in brief moments and how water molecules are
sustained and weave throughout the fabric of life for eons. The reality
of Earth’s atmosphere is that it has mighty convective potential and
the commentary denies this change. Instead the commentary evokes 19th
Century Industrial Revolution images of the atmosphere as a greenhouse
– a human construction in which air convection is suppressed and human
activities are insulated from the vagaries and constraints of the local
shows how life comes in myriad forms, the proof being the seen in the
diversity that exists this day and in the shifting shades of the rocks.
Life forms have persisted for four billion years through solar storms,
ice ages and droughts. It is a story of resilience and invention. The
commentary denies this and says our ecosystems are fragile and humans
are destroying them. It could have avoided such denial by stating, if
there was any need to, that humans are well capable of destroying the
balances and flows of the ecosystems that sustain us, for indeed these
are fragile in the moment.
We also see the
denial of change/stewardship in Yann’s letter. It states, “HOME
is a carbon offset movie”.
provides ample reminder that fossil fuels and mineral oil in particular
are very precious resources. It could not show mineral oil being formed,
for that happened eons ago and may have happened only once in the life
of our galaxy. Mineral oil is fossilised life forms processed during a
set of unique geophysical events.
The idea that
humans can ever “offset” or “neutralise” the impacts of burning
of such an extraordinary and potent resource is utterly delusional,
symptomatic of the wider psychosis evidenced in the commentary. The
wonderful photography and high ideals of the filmmakers become at great
risk of being completely subverted by the insane ethos of the Carbon
My friend Peter
says the film will be only available on Youtube till the 16th of
June. I could spot no mention of this limited viewing season on the
Goodplanet website. Already probably tens of millions of people have
watched the movie (English 2,115,927,
French 2,359,335, Russian
99,824, Arabic 5,131
Spanish 529,529, German 890,28).
as this can be meaningless with movies like this as often very well
intentioned teachers show them to their classes.
I hope my review
encourages people to watch movie and view it with healthy scepticism.
Much of the commentary is supportive of the photography but vital
elements of it are in major dissonance with it. If the Sustainability
Principle of Energy holds true then it predicts this dissonance will
work to disempower and immobilise people. The unsustainable status quo
Someone wrote on Goodplanet
best idea of all is reducing our numbers… I can see why
politicians..industry…scientists… don’t like idea .. do not dare
propose this idea ”
Perhaps it is not
too late to add to the photographic catalogue of potentially sustainable
options (solar driven cities, carbon sequestration devices, geothermal
plant etc) at the end of the movie. Splice in scenes of condom factories
and family planning clinics in Bangladesh where birth rates are
plummeting despite the hostile odds. Splice in a comparison of the USA
(birth rate 13.8 per 1000 people, mineral oil destruction rate 68.72
barrels a day per 1000 people compared to say China birth rate 14 and
destruction rate of 5.73 barrels per 1000 people.)
I noted someone
left a very blunt comment on Goodplanet website concerning the
commentator. As usual I cannot spot it second time around. The writer
does not like the commentator and advises Yann in no uncertain terms to
get rid of her. I am not advising this. However I am aware she adopts a
pontificating tone at times. I am prone to doing this myself and know
well how the light of interest instantly goes out in peoples’ eyes,
whether they are young or old. At heart people feel they are capable of
assembling information and believe they don’t need to be told how and
what to do.
In summary the photography manages to capture significant elements of the magic of this planet with its shifting patterns of activity The transposition of these patterns in the film creates glimpse of a world in which all that seems so different is actually very much the same. I thus found HOME a source of wonderment and awe and see our planet with fresh eyes.