It’s too late to be a pessimist
The popular coffee table book The Earth from Above by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been made into a stunning film to highlight the damage man is doing to the planet. Called HOME, the film shows images of cities, rain forests, deserts and oceans from above to highlight the damage climate change, development and over exploitation is doing to the planet. With no talking heads. the narrative quickly draws the viewer in to see the story of life on the planet, our role in shaping it and calls to us to work together to write the script of what happens next.
Arthus-Bertrand said that from the air, it’s easy to see the Earth’s wounds, and that’s why his debut film is made up entirely of aerial photography. “I made the movie without a script, based on a single page synopsis” he said. “I knew the story I wanted to tell, but the narrative only emerged as we were shooting, especially the central issue of energy – first the energy of human muscle power, then the revolution sparked by what we call “pockets of sunlight”, oil.”
The film was produced by Luc Besson who made the Hollywood blockbuster the Fifth Element and was shot in 54 countries over 217 days. The commentary, narrated by Glenn Close in English and was edited by Al Gore and famed environmentalist Lester Brown. French, Spanish and German versions are also available.
Rather than getting tied up with distribution rights, the film found a sponsor and has released the $10 million film free on 5th June. Some might be surprised that the sponsor is PPR – the luxury fashion holding company for Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney among others. PPR Chief Executive François-Henri Pinault admitted that given the nature of the PPR Group he expected to receive criticism but said that “It will force us to act and go one step further”. He insisted the film be given away for free to distributors. As a result, it is being shown at discounted rates in some theaters, for free in open-air screenings, on YouTube and 80 TV channels, and sold, sometimes at a discount, on DVDs around the world.
More Courageous Policies
Arthus-Bertrand said it was time to call a halt to a world where 20 percent of the population consumed 80 percent of the planet’s riches. “I explain what is happening, I don’t offer solutions,” he said. “But we all have solutions within ourselves. We would live better by consuming less and sharing more, and we need more courageous policies. The idea is to convince people to push politicians to action.”
Yann Arthus-Bertrand says “What our planet will be like in some 20-30 years is absolutely unknown. If humanity doesn’t stop its destructive influence on nature, we will soon find ourselves in a different alien world, inadequate for life. “It’s too late to be a pessimist”.
The film points out that “In 200,000 years on earth, humanity has upset the balance of the planet. Humanity has barely 10 years to reverse the trend.” “We have the power to change so what are we waiting for?” it asks.
While some might question the credentials of a film shot from a helicopter, in fact the air team generated less pollution than a single airliner flying empty from Paris to Los Angeles. In addition, all the CO2 emissions engendered by the making of the film were calculated and offset by sums of money that are used to provide clean energy to those who don’t have any.
It’s Too Late To Be A Pessimist
“Home simply sets out our current situation, while saying that a solution exists” said Arthus-Bertrand. “The film’s subtitle could be It’s Too Late To Be A Pessimist. We have reached a crossroads; important decisions must be made to change our world. Everybody knows about what the film says, but nobody wants to believe it. So Home adds its weight to the argument of environmental organisations that we need to revert to a more common sense approach and change our consumer way of life.”
Instead of emphasising why we didn’t we react when we could see what was coming, Arthus-Bertrand said that “there is a more optimistic version: They were great. They knew what would happen and they were brave enough to change things. That’s the version I prefer. How did they do it?”
Asked what he wanted audiences to take away with them Arthus-Bertrand said that “Besides changing their way of life, I’d like people to want to help, to share. There’s a magnificent quote from Théodore Monod: “We’ve tried everything, except love”. I hope this movie will be synonymous with a lot of love.”
The film ends with a simple appeal – “we must work together”.
The 93 min film can be watched online and downloaded at YouTube
See Yann Arthus-Bertrand talking about his work and the film at TED