Studio:Docurama Year: 2006 Cast: Natalia Bortolotti, Thom Hartmann, Dr. William Rees, Richard Heinberg, Michael Economides, Christopher Flavin, Michael Klare, Terry Lynn Karl, Guy F. Caruso, Steve Danziger, Santiago Kawarim, Emeka Duruigbo, Cindy Cohn, Amy Goodman, Tundi Agardy, Kenneth Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons, Kavita Ramdas Director: James Jandak Wood Release Date: April 14, 2009 Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable) Run Time: 01h:37m:52s Genre(s): documentary
"People in western societies are largely unaware of the harm caused from oil extraction. We are unaware because it goes unreported."
- narrator (Natalia Bortolotti)
A cynic could accuse this of being one-sided or not offering enough concrete solutions, but even so, the message laid out here is sobering, depressing and more than a little frightening. Crude Impact is hardly the only doc out there ringing the same warning bell, yet it's an intelligent wake-up call that I can only hope hasn't come too late.
Movie Grade: A-
DVD Grade: A-
When it comes to being environmentally sound, I know I'm not as green as I could or should be. I know this because my wife reminds me of that fact on a daily basis. It's not that I'm purposely wasteful, it's just that I guess I'm not always thinking. I think I need to try harder.
The 2006 documentary Crude Impact looks at how the human race (I'm talking to you, United States and China) has been running through Earth's natural supply of fossil fuels in our continuing need for unlimited consumption of goods and services, and how corporate oil extraction and military force has irrevocably decimated not only regions of the world, but indigenous people, as well.
It's not a pretty picture by any means, and there's an undercurrent of gloom, but first-time director James Jandak Wood assembled a stable of seemingly knowledgeable folk to present the unpleasant info in a way that will make you ashamed to get in your car.
We've all heard the concept of "peak oil", which is when the amount of petroleum extracted begins a permanent decline. As humans, our consumption levels hit this point in the early 1970s, and it hasn't gotten any better in the subsequent decades; so much so that were rapidly approaching the moment in time when our daily consumption exceeds our daily production. Crude Impact covers these sobering subjects, as well looking at how shifty corporate giants like Texaco and Shell not only land-raped Ecuador and Nigeria, but apparently committed or contributed to or were at the very least aware of horrific human rights abuses done under their banners.
The message here is akin to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, a kind of last ditch "fix it or else" mantra, only one that doesn't provide as many real-life solutions as it could have. Some of the blame is put on governments, some of it on the media, but the honest truth is that it's all about our gluttonous usage.
When George Bush The First declared that the oil-dependent "American way of life is non-negotiable" at a Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 it reeked of blind arrogance. One of the speakers tells us we should be worried, because nature doesn't negotiate, and the concept of a sustainable world may not the permanent given that many us of don't give a second thought to.
Crude Impact ends with what could be one of the best final lines of a documentary ever, and it's the sort of the proclamation that while still having a kind of Davey-versus-Goliath vibe is still personally inspiring. It's like that old adage: the journey of a thousand miles begins a single footstep.
Docurama has issued Crude Impact in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. A large chunk of the doc consists of talking head interviews, and these sequences look sharply detailed, sporting very natural fleshtones. Some of the 1.33:1 archival bits, by stark contrast, look grainy and not as clearly detailed as a result of becoming 16x9 compliant.
The sole audio track is offered in a fairly standard 2.0 stereo. Not an especially robust mix, but certainly quite serviceable for clean, clear narration and interviews. Optional subtitles are provided Spanish and French.
It's only fitting that the packaging for this one is not a standard case, instead it's a cardboard thinpak with a tray made from 100% recycled plastic and 35% post consumer materials. Supplements consist of 19 segments (01h:18m:53s) that didn't make the final cut, but practically represent another film altogether. The topics range from hydrocarbons, non-conventional petroleum, 9-11 and even one that amounts to a 72-second gag reel.