New DVD at the Honora Bay Resource Library:
Home, a 2009 feature film shot by noted aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, is a visual spectacular in the tradition of Koyanisqaatsi and the rest of Godfrey Reggio’s trilogy. Like those earlier films, it aims to show us humans how we are changing life on this planet. But there the resemblance ends. The Reggio trilogy, and similar films like Ron Fricke’s Baraka, let the images speak for themselves. Home on the other hand is dominated by its script, a powerful sermon aimed at changing our relationship with the biosphere.
Although it delivers its message mostly in scientific rather than religious terms, i call it a ‘sermon’ because it is aimed directly at our moral and spiritual sensibilities. The scope of it, beginning with the advent of life on Earth 4 billion years ago, matches the magnificent sweep of the visuals. Having given us in the first hour an overview (in every sense!) of where we come from, the second hour of the film draws our attention directly to climate change and the rest of the planetary crisis caused by our collective habits. The final few minutes show us how various communities have actually changed their habits in ways that help to head off disaster. The central focus is on overconsumption – which is entirely appropriate, given that the 20% of humans who consume 80% of the Earth’s resources are the likely audience for this film, although the impoverished majority have a starring role in it.
The script makes excellent use of factual information, along with the visual feast, to ‘go for the gut’ and inspire an informed response. The delivery is not perfect – the voice-over by Glenn Close includes some minor but annoying blunders, especially when she says ‘climactic’ when the word should be ‘climatic’. There are also moments when the you don’t know what you’re seeing on the screen, and the narrative doesn’t tell you. However there’s little point in quibbling with details, either of fact or pronunciation, when the main message comes across so clearly. Home is the kind of wake-up call we will continue to need until we manage to shake off our wastefully consumptive habits.