Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Just in time for Earth Day, Sylvie Rokab's LOVE THY NATURE hits NYC (and a bit later in L.A.)

Narrated in his usual dulcet tones by that vocal delight, Liam Neeson, and filmed everywhere from the USA to Brazil, the Caribbean and Namibia (the cinematography of the natural world shown here is indeed gorgeous), the new documentary LOVE THY NATURE, written, directed and edited by a young filmmaker named Sylvie Rokab is perhaps the perfect film to see for Earth Day. The earth, as this movie tells us, is a single living system in which all is connected (yes, we're talking Gaia here), and even with all the negative stuff currently happening, the earth can self-regulate. (But that self-regulation might just happen once we human beings have effectively wiped ourselves out.)

Ms Rokab (shown at left) has given us a combination of the usual talking-head experts, including the recently-seen Stephen R. Kellert (from Biophillic Design), Biomimicry's Dayna Baumeister, NASA consultant Duane Elgin and Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen -- among a number of others; animation (that's a little too cute for my taste); and the idea that, however far we've come toward inevitable climate change and destruction, there is still plenty of positive thinking (and doing) with which we can busy ourselves.

Along the way, we learn about Descartes, who, for all his intelligence, was a little dumb about animals, and today's powerful corporations, which are even dumber about almost everything (except profit-making). The movie may bring tears to your eyes and repeatedly, both for its beauty and its hopefulness in the face of the almost completely negative behavior by those in power worldwide.

One of the most impressive sections of the film shows us the entire history of the world compressed into a time frame of but a single year -- which certainly puts things into perspective. We learn that over 200 toxins are now found in the blood of newborn babies, and that staying out of the sun to prevent skin cancer also deprives us of Vitamin D -- which helps prevent skin cancer. We learn about biomimicry and its uses, and how we share around 95% of our genes with chimpanzees (which I knew) but also that we share some 25% of our genes with trees (which I didn't).

Occasionally Ms Rokab's visuals don't quite jibe with her words  There's one shot of a woman and a tree that supposedly goes with the idea of "Meaning," but I couldn't help think that a photo of a man and a giraffe might have worked just as well (or badly). But this is minor carping. Environmentalism and social justice, the movie tells us, go hand in hand. So how can we both participate in and take responsibility for this planet we're living on? That's the question. And if we -- and our elected leaders -- don't answer it pretty damned fast, the won't be time for a second ask.

The movie is very good at telling us a lot of things we already know but have not yet acted upon. What the hell: Maybe this time we'll listen and act. But even if we do, if those in power don't turn this into a global initiative, I don't expect it will matter much. So enjoy Earth Day, along with this 70-minute movie (with six further minutes of credits), which opens in New York City at the Cinema Village on Friday, April 22, and in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Monica Film Center on Friday, May 6. To learn more about the film and how else you might view it, visit its official web site here.

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