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DVD Pick: An Inconvenient Truth

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An Inconvenient Truth DVD Cover

An Inconvenient Truth DVD Cover

© Paramount Pictures

Al Gore's Op-Ed Piece About Global Warming

Before going to a multiplex theater to see An Inconvenient Truth (2006), I had not given much thought to global warming, and I certainly had no expectation that any politician could bring the topic alive for me. But I was stunned by Davis Guggenheim's film, a compelling version of Al Gore's presentation on the topic. The movie is intellectually and emotionally engaging, and it merits watching regardless of what you think about climate change or the former Vice President.

The DVD containing An Inconvenient Truth would be worth buying for the feature film alone, but it comes with bonus materials that enhanced my appreciation of the movie. The best of these is Gore's half-hour update on the information given in the film, and there's a good director's audio commentary as well. Later in this review, I'll give more details about the DVD special features.

The Devil Is in the Details

Gore's thesis is familiar to anyone who follows world events: Earth is heating up because human activity puts so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. He is only one of many people making that claim, while lots of others are saying we really can't be sure that's what's happening. But what sets Gore apart is his ability to mount a persuasive argument by choosing the right level of detail so that an interested layman can understand his reasoning.

For example, Gore presents a graph of data derived from Antarctic ice cores showing that over a period of 650,000 years (!) temperature and the level of carbon dioxide rise and fall together. This makes it difficult to resist the idea that as human activity produces more and more carbon dioxide, we are increasingly heating up Earth.

As world temperatures rise, wind and ocean currents change, leading to a variety of unfamiliar phenomena. There are not only great droughts, but paradoxically there are huge floods as well, and these have begun to be of concern to the insurance industry. It seems possible that eventually enough ice could melt in Greenland and/or Antarctica to cause a catastrophic rise in sea level.

Vignettes About Al Gore's Life

Interspersed with Gore's presentation on climate change are vignettes about his life. One of the most poignant of these recounts how the Gore family raised tobacco on their Tennessee farm, and then Al's sister died of lung cancer.

The movie touches briefly on the 2000 election, in which even though Gore won the popular vote, George W. Bush became President because the United States has an indirect way of picking its head of state. Gore gets a big laugh when he introduces himself by saying, "I am Al Gore. I used to be the next President of the United States of America."

If An Inconvenient Truth stuck strictly to technical topics surrounding global warming, it would be very dry indeed. The film gains most of its emotional punch from the passionate presence of Al Gore and the vignettes about his life. But this is a two-edged sword. For at least some viewers, the movie will seem too much of a vehicle for Gore's political ambitions, giving them a rationale for denying the validity of the issues he is raising.

An Update by Al Gore and a Making-Of Featurette

My favorite bonus material on the DVD is the 32-minute "An Update With Former Vice President Al Gore," in which he discusses global warming developments in the year following the completion of An Inconvenient Truth. He claims that the link between higher ocean temperatures and stronger hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones is becoming better established. And, increasing carbon dioxide levels in the oceans are making them more acidic, threatening the food chain. There's further evidence that Greenland's ice is melting at an accelerating rate. Yet another dimension to global warming is that there's a risk of thawing Siberian permafrost releasing a catastrophic volume of methane into the atmosphere.

Another extra on the DVD is an 11-minute making-of featurette, giving you a chance to see the director and two of the producers. The sound stage set for the movie is shown being prepared, and Gore is brought in to become familiar with it. When everything is ready, a live audience comes in, and Gore gives them his presentation. Actually, the presentation was filmed three times, and the best footage was used in the movie.

DVD Review Continues on the Next Page - About the Audio Commentary Tracks, DVD Packaging and DVD Details

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