The Age of Stupid

The Age of Stupid
Date: 30/04/2019 Times: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

This is a joint showing between Moving Image and Extinction Rebellion.

Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite stars in this cautionary look at our changing climate, and what could become of our world should we continue to ignore the warning signs and stop global warming while we still have the chance. The year is 2055, and in a world devastated by mankind’s lack of foresight, one lone sole (Postlethwaite) seeks the answer to why we let our planet fall to ruin. Looking over archive footage from the year 2007, he sees everyone talking about the damaging effects of global warming, but no one bothering to take the action required to reverse the troubling trend.

The title of the documentary The Age of Stupid refers to the era of the audience. According to the filmmakers, we are wasteful to the point of self-destruction, and the opportunity to prevent our society’s suicide has almost passed. More than in most environmental documentaries, blame is focused on individuals. Sure, oil companies contribute to global warming, but The Age of Stupid makes the people it follows key agents in the big picture of global warming.

Director Franny Armstrong shows us six stories of people across the globe who embody painful contradictions, and whose lives are somewhat interlinked. How funny, her film seems to say, that an oil geologist could save one hundred people from Hurricane Katrina, without acknowledging that his own work produced carbon emissions that caused the extreme weather. Or that a Nigerian woman, the victim of pollution and poverty caused by a nearby oil operation, covets the belongings and life of Americans, the byproducts of which make her own life miserable. 

The most clever and solution-oriented part of the film was its production. Using “crowd-sourced” financing by environmentally sympathetic groups, the project was able to raise £450,000. The producers also reduced crew costs by giving them shares to supplement their reduced wages. In the closing credits, the filmmakers enumerate the carbon footprint created by the film, compiling a list with items like “48 flights, 124,000 miles, 68,100 Kg CO2”. The distribution, too, occurred through a live simulcast to over 400 theatres and guests bicycling to the premiere. 

For those who are environmentally minded, The Age of Stupid is a worthy reminder of one’s responsibility to protect our environment. Statements like “We gorge ourselves on hundreds of years of sunlight [stored in fossil fuel] every year” provide moments of shocking clarity.  What it shows us is a messy, complicated picture of global warming, a problem with no easy solution.

‘Age of Stupid’ was re-released by Spanner Films on March 15th. There’s more information on their website plus a special Guardian video short which shows why the film is even more pressing today:

‘The Age of Stupid revisited: what’s changed on climate change?’Ten years after climate movie ‘The Age of Stupid’ had its green-carpet, solar-powered premiere, we follow its director as she revisits people and places from the film and asks: are we still heading for the catastrophic future it depicted?

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The Age of Stupid

Year: 2009

Country: UK

Cert: 12A

Duration: 92 mins

Dir: Franny Armstrong

'An eye-opening look at individual contributions to global warming.'

Venue: William Loveless Hall