I moaned and groaned and delayed my reviewing of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" because of the political relationships of the documentary and that I have a general dislike of politicians and come from a Republican family. Still, I had heard good things about the documentary and had some interest in watching it. Thanks to a long bout of illness over the Christmas holiday from a nasty sinus infection brought about by the constantly up and down temperatures of this early winter season, I had a little extra time to catch up on my viewing and finally reviewing this title.
I'm going to try my hardest to avoid my own political views or my own personal views towards the issue of Global Warming, as I would prefer to avoid this review becoming an argument for either side. I want to focus on Mr. Gore's presentation and the film itself. I will state right now that I found some of "An Inconvenient Truth" to be very eye opening and was startled by some of the evidence presented by the former "Next President of the United States." Whether or not I believed in global warming before I started to watch "An Inconvenient Truth," this documentary left me with a lot to think about.
"An Inconvenient Truth" is an interesting documentary in its formula. Much of this could be more accurately called a town meeting. The large majority of Al Gore's documentary is a town hall style presentation where he is armed by an Apple Power Book slideshow with videos, charts, photographs and other visual evidence he uses to argue his point. Intertwined with his presentation is footage of Gore as he recounts his own growing up and early experiences and influences with Global Warming and his personal feelings towards the dire situation that can result if CO2 levels do not subside and if the views he supports are indeed accurate.
Al Gore is an orator and the driving force behind "An Inconvenient Truth." If you would have asked me if I wanted to sit and listen to Al Gore talk about the environment for ninety minutes, I would have told you to leave me alone and run for the nearest copy of "Pulp Fiction." After watching "An Inconvenient Truth," I honestly must say that Gore is a skilled orator that is nowhere near the unemotional and ‘dead' personality he was considered to be as Vice President of the United States. He is the opposite. He speaks in an easy going tone that is varied enough to keep you listening and he interjects bits of humor and humanity that keeps you watching and listening to his words.
The argument presented by "An Inconvenient Truth" is that Global Warming is running rampant and with the rising CO2 levels, the Earth's temperature is soaring. The Polar ice caps are melting and weather patterns are drastically altering. Our glaciers are disappearing quickly each year. A college professor of Al Gore first inspired his interests in Global Warming. From those moments, he has paid attention and traveled the world to gather evidence and support his arguments. He has lobbied in front of Congress and tried to push legislature to curb the horrendous effects of levels of Green House gasses that are spiraling out of control. Gore states that if drastic actions are not taken, then parts of Florida, Manhattan and San Francisco will be submerged.
The photographic evidence of glaciers disappearing over a couple of decades is eye-opening. The images of forest burning and the effects of emerging countries are frightening. The world is changing and the population is growing at dangerous levels. These are indisputable facts. We have seen the warmest years in history over the past decade and a half. This too is documented fact. Some argue that the world goes through cyclic behavior that results in warm cycles and this explains what Gore calls his Global Warming. Is Global Warming a real concern? Is Gore doing a Michael Moore impression and distorting facts to argue his point? Is "An Inconvenient Truth" his convenient truth?
I won't state if I buy into Global Warming or believe it. I will say that I feel Gore is impassioned and very educated in the presentation he delivers. I do not feel he is being dishonest and I feel his Eco-Warrior personality is genuine. Whether or not Global Warming is a legitimate concern or not, he offers evidence to gets the viewer thinking. Whether or not our world is facing a disaster, the growing population and increased industrial demands on our environment are definitely something we must be concerned with. I feel Al Gore has done a wonderful job with "An Inconvenient Truth" and is something that probably should be watched so that you may not only build your own opinions on Global Warming, but at least be knowledgeable about the issues at hand.
"An Inconvenient Truth" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and includes a few bits of archival 1.33:1 footage that is pillarboxed. Some of the footage, especially the personal moments with Al Gore are shot with hand cameras and are both gritty and rough in presentation with low detail and high levels of film grain. The town hall footage of Mr. Gore giving his presentation is nicely detailed, but still sub-par when compared to your typical DVD film. But hey, this is a documentary and we are not expecting this to be incredibly detailed and gorgeous. It sure looks better than the horrendous "Bowling for Columbine" (don't get me started on that one). Some of the archival moments are barely better than VHS, but varied quality and low quality moments are expected in documentaries with large amounts of stock footage. Colors are generally good and a surprisingly large number of scenes had pitch black backgrounds and black levels held up well. Image quality is adequate, but this is a documentary and was expected.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 are the two included soundtracks with "An Inconvenient Truth." English, French and Spanish subtitles are included as well. The vast majority of the film is Al Gore standing in front of a focused audience and talking into a microphone. They laugh at some of his nicely done jokes and cheer some of his strong points. Much of this audio takes place in the center channel, with applause out of the left and right channels. Some of the video footage includes music and ambient sounds that sparsely populate the rear speakers. As was the case with the image quality of "An Inconvenient Truth," the sound is adequate, but expectedly so. Everything is crystal clear, but the archival footage varies in quality and the front three speakers are almost all that is used, with the center channel doing a commendable job of having Mr. Gore sound crystal clear.
"An Inconvenient Truth" comes packed in a thin cardboard packaging that has a heavy plastic shrinkwrapping that protects it. It's thickness is only about a fourth as thick as a standard DVD case and is a symbol of Mr. Gore's desire to do very little thing possible to help the environment out. This also shows that Paramount was very open to working with the former Vice President bring his message to the mass marketplace. Inside of the packaging is "Ten Things to Do" to help do your part to help curb Global Warming. Aside from the thin packaging, "An Inconvenient Truth" contains a nice number of bonus features.
An Update with Former Vice-President Al Gore runs for slightly more than a half an hour. It details much of the additional effects on our climate and the added evidence since "An Inconvenient Truth" was released and how the documentary has started to bring about some change that is nicely presented in anamorphic widescreen. The second featurettes, The Making of An Inconvenient Truth is a quick ten minute featurettes that quickly offers some information on what was involved in brining Al Gore's message to film, but feels short and definitely could have been longer. "I Need to Wake Up" Music Video by Melissa Ethridge is also included.
Two running commentaries are included on the DVD. Sadly, Al Gore was not involved with the commentary tracks. The first Commentary by Director David Guggenheim features a lot of technical information, but also adds more insight into the problem of Global Warming and the director's own thoughts. The second Commentary by Producers Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns and Lesley Chilcott is a Criterion styled commentary that also dives deep into details, but also includes personal thoughts. I didn't find much more that wasn't covered by Mr. Gore, but skipping through them did offer up a few nice background bits. A Al Gore commentary would have been nice, but the two included ones aren't bad.
I always considered Al Gore a boring politician. I don't particularly care much for politicians and originally ignored "An Inconvenient Truth." However, after the odd weather behavior helped ground me for almost two weeks, I had a lot of inspiration to finally just sit down and watch it. A few days later, I'm up and writing my review for this documentary which opened up my eyes to how fast our environment is chancing. I feel my opinions are not nearly as important as it is for others to sit down and build their own opinions on the issues, but to also see the various bits of evidence and information detailed by Al Gore. It is startling and whether or not Global Warming is fully behind the climate changes, I feel everybody should sit down and get a little education. Mr. Gore is a fine public speaker and is impassioned by the environmental threats and he should be commended for "An Inconvenient Truth."