In his 2007 feature,
Sharkwater, Canadian wildlife photographer and director
Rob Stewart documented the atrocities perpetrated by a fishing
industry effectively decimating the species and, in turn,
undersea life. While he was on a press junket, an audience
member prodded him about a recent United Nations study that
found all marine life in the ocean will be dead by 2048, begging
the question: "why we would focus only on saving sharks?"
receiving a handful of international awards for his first
doc, Stewart set out to make Revolution, documenting the effect
mankind is having on ocean and marine life, and what will
happen when it all disappears. And, in case anyone missed
his original film, he spends ten minutes of his latest ego
validation tool congratulating himself, talking about the
many accolades he received.
the status quo message that dozens of eco-docs have preached
over the last decade, Stewart's 86-minute film reminds us
that carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is hurting
the environment. Stewart's message takes a step back from
a single issue, instead focusing on the greater environmental
crisis that ties the fate of every living creature on Earth
global pollution, deforestation and food scarcity as just
some sources of the manmade reasons the oceans are in peril,
he focuses on the Canadian tar sands industry as his primary
villain. There's a lengthy segment that shows aerial footage
of the Alberta tar sands — for the few that didn't watch
Peter Mettler's superior documentary, Petropolis
— and leads into footage of Stewart attending a rally
on the footsteps on Parliament Hill.
one can discount the overall message of the film; humans need
to cut down on their wasteful ways and work towards protecting
the Earth in order to sustain the species for a bit longer.
But hearing Stewart preach the same standard, undiscerning,
broad message in his protracted hipster drawl, unable to force
emotion into his voice, extending every syllable, for fear
of being perceived as uncool, is painful.
what's worse is that he reiterates the idealistic notion that
today's youth is the answer to all of our world's problems,
featuring footage of teenagers attending rallies, screeching
out blanket, glib headline assertions, crying into each other's
bosoms when they realize the world doesn't care about their
snowflake awesomeness as much as their parents told them.
Stewart is merely regurgitating the quotidian message of the
modern urbanite, forcing out headline ideals without a great
deal of balanced investigation to substantiate or distinguish
his babbling from the sea of white noise used to define the
identities of the mediocre and well adjusted.
sustaining the environment is a vital and important issue,
it merely complicates the subject when the ill informed offer
poorly constructed, incoherent, idealized (i.e., unrealistic)
arguments that champion their identity performance more than
where Stewart travelled all over the world to capture some
breathtaking underwater and on-land footage for the film,
one can't help but wonder if he was mindful of the contradiction
of his message. Surely flying between multiple countries and
using fishing boats to get out to sea weren't the most environmentally
like its contradictions, Revolution completely misses
the point: the issue at hand is, and always will be, that
of money and global economy. Of course, we shouldn't expect
a tousle-haired hipster, bred in the vacuum of privilege,
to understand that.