Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mercury Rising

Two quite different 'environmental' films share this review.

The Cove is what great documentary making is all about. Passionate, exciting and revealing, the Cove both exposes the shameful annual dolphin massacre in the Japanese town of Taijii, and tells the exciting story of the work of dedicated activists over the years (including Ric O'Barry, the (human) face of Flipper) to expose this story to the wider public. Also check out the official website for more background on the campaign to save the dolphins, and inform the world of increasing problem of mercury poisoning in fish (and therefore humans).

Altiplano takes another path altogether. Superficially the movie tells the story (based on true events) of a traditional Peruvian village suffering mercury poisoning from a new mine in the area, with a side story of a Belgian couple whose lives become caught up in the conflict. However the film-makers have a greater ambition, which is to draw attention to the problem (in their eyes) of the decline of the spiriual in modern western lives. Maybe it's my rational side, but for me, the film worked best at the more mundane level. Three quarters of the way through I was loving it - beautifully filmed, interesting and important story, opening us up to a new world. However the last quarter (or so - it seemed longer) the self-indulgent mystical pieces over-took the film, unfortunately losing some of the impact of the rest of the film.

Judge for yourslves though - either by seeing the film (which I still recommend - especially anyone interested in South America) or by exploring the official website which spells out better than I have the film-makers philosophy.

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