The Age of Stupid


The Age of Stupid

Product details

Product name: The Age of Stupid

Reviewer: Carolyn Barry

Publisher: Spanner Films

G Rating:


We've had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Industrial Age. Now it's time for the Age of Stupid, as the eponymous new film suggests. It's an age where humans are compared with yeast, which multiply uncontrollably all the while consuming their own resources and dying in their own waste.

Bleak is the thought and bleak is the outlook of The Age of Stupid.

Directed by Franny Armstrong of McLibel fame and John Battsek who produced acclaimed doco One Day in September, The Age of Stupid is a hybrid - a documentary set within a futuristic framework.

Set in the year 2055, the film begins with despairing animations of a destroyed Earth, with images such as the Sydney Opera House ablaze and London flooded. Enter the central character, and archivist played by renowned British actor, Peter Postlethwaite, who is caretaker of a kind of world museum containing all the important global documents, specimens, ideas salvaged before the destruction.

Through a computer interface, he zips through and zooms in on people and important events in the 'past'; that is, the 20th and early 21st centuries. This is where the documentary comes in - the 'archival' footage is documentary and news footage of the significant events, such as the 2004 Tsunami in Asia and Hurricane Katrina. Also interspersed are snippets of often amusing animations.

The archivist focusses in on six people throughout the film - real, present-day subjects from different countries and with different stories: a British wind farm developer battling the local communities to put up the 'eyesores'; an Indian entrepreneur starting a low-cost airline for all Indians; an oil finder for Shell who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina; a Nigerian woman living in an oil-rich but poverty-stricken nation who wishes for the wasteful conveniences of America; a old French mountaineer who has seen his beloved Alps lose their glaciers; and Iraqi refugees, a brother and sister who lost their father to the invading Americans in the apparent war for oil.

Their stories reveal the links between the desires and dependence on oil, consumerism, ignorance, and the massive inequities between the West and the Third World.

Armstrong holds up these real life characters as examples of the battles faced and also of the ignorance of humans to the challenges staring them (read: us) in the face.

This film is one not to be missed.

That's not to say that it's enjoyable though. In fact, it's a rather large kick in the butt about just how dire our situation is on planet Earth and how we humans are stuffing it up. It's a guilt trip and a wake-up call, and at times makes for some uncomfortable viewing. But it also makes you angry and motivates you to want to change.

Made on a 'survival' budget, the film came together purely from the investment of about 220 groups and individuals who in essence bought a share of the profits. Given the media hype and momentum gathering around the project, I'm sure there's some happy investors out there.

But money aside, The Age of Stupid is impressive in its production and its hype. With Armstrong hosting various premier events and post-film panels, the publicity surrounding the film is building, and that's exactly what they hope for, leading up to Copenhagen in December.

See it because you have to.

In selected Australian cinemas through September.

The Age of Stupid trailer

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