There is a point during the first 20 minutes of A Fierce Green Fire at which long-time environmentalist Martin Litton stops to posit, “If you don’t have any hatred in your heart, then what are you living for?” Litton presents the question as if it were a call to action – one clearly reminiscent of the age-old premise that anything worth living for is most assuredly worth fighting for as well.
To that end, A Fierce Green Fire does a pretty decent job of tracing back the ongoing struggle for conservation in this country, chronicling every worthwhile wrinkle from the Audobon Society to the Sierra Club; Green Peace to The EPA; environmental awareness to political activism; King’s Canyon to Love Canal; Earth Day to Kyoto; corporate interest to our climate; Ronald Reagan to Al Gore; air pollution to fierce warming (The list goes on and on). In so doing, the film joins an entire maelstrom of enviro-docs, many of which have been released in the last few years alone (Plastic Planet, Chasing Ice and Surviving Progress among them).
Much like An Inconvenient Truth was able to benefit from Al Gore’s name recognition, A Fierce Green Fire arrives packing some A-list power of its own. Different sections of the film are narrated by the likes of Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Ashley Judd (to name a few). To his credit, (Director) Mark Kitchell does not exploit any of that talent to his own end. In fact, at no point during the film do any of those A-List narrators actually appear in front of the camera at all.
In the final analysis, what we’re left with is the oft-recurring notion that we’ve traded in our once-proud culture for consumption … a wholly backward state of being in which corporate interests trump the greater good, time and time and time again. The good news is, it’s not too late to set the record straight, provided we have the wherewithal – if not the sheer integrity and guts – to see this battle through.
(A Fierce Green Fire arrives at the Cinema Village in New York City today with a staggered national rollout to follow. For a complete list of opening dates and cities, click here.)