Review: Collapse

First published on Ctrl.Alt.Shift on October 26 2010

Director: Chris SmithAs you would expect from a film on economic and environmental ‘Collapse’ – this film isn’t a light watch.

Directed by Chris Smith, best known for his documentaries including American Movie and The Yes Men, this film takes a minimalist and slightly darker approach to his previous work. 

The focus of the film is Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer now better known for his reporting on corruption and criticism of mainstream media. It is shot in a dark room with very little light, Ruppert chain smokes as he is interviewed by Smith. The camera pans around him often close up so it is possible to see every wave of emotion that goes over his face as he talks about his life and work.

Ruppert is frank but very angry, a man who feels he has been ignored and unfairly treated by those with power. Energy is one of Ruppert’s biggest concerns, and he explains how he thinks society’s belief that we can have infinite growth has led to a naïve belief that we can have infinite energy. Energy, he says is becoming more powerful than money but when the sources we rely on, such as oil, run out we will need to be able to adapt to this new world.

Ruppert bases many of his arguments on the problem of peak oil, the point in time in which global oil reserves will go into decline. He highlights how peak oil predictions and signs of the recent economic crisis have been ignored by those in power for many years and how people voicing their concerns have been branded alarmist.

Much of the film seems to me to be disempowering to those who share Ruppert’s views but despite all the anger, Ruppert describes the power of community with tender emotion. He describes walking away from the problem and not doing anything as taking part in our own suicide, describing ways people can take control of their own lives to protect themselves.

Some people may see him as too paranoid, pessimistic or even extreme but there is a lot of sense in a lot of the things Ruppert says. He defends himself against accusations of being a conspiracy theorist saying that the thoughts that he promotes are more conspiracy facts and comments on the growing dissent he feels in the world and how ordinary people can use this movement and become part of it to effect real change.

This is the kind of sentiment that we, as activists for social change, need to take hold of. We can’t expect people to join a movement of hopelessness, we can’t expose problems without offering some solutions.

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