If there’s ever a film that can teach you about the history of the planet and the progression of civilization on earth from time beginning up until the 21st century, then this 90-minute film called “Home” may be it. But more than a documentary of life on earth and humanity’s imprint on the natural world order, this extensive film is an artistic piece of aerially shot images of landscapes both natural and man-made, intended to compel with narrations and juxtaposing images of virgin forests, coral reef islands, smoking landfills and industrial-style cattle feedlots.
Can a film change the way we understand our relationship to our world, particularly given the complexity of the industrialized world order that is being explained to us in hour and a half film heavy on narrative information? Let’s hope the answer is yes, as “It’s too late to be a pessimist” (or so goes the narrative in the last winding minutes of the film).
If it’s too late to be a pessimist, then the film’s vision of optimism could have gone even further. Sure, it includes the standard elements: renewable energy technology—filled with the powerful shots of wind turbines and solar panels; a Doctors Without Borders plane flying in the sky; and a painted image of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela to inspire a new world-changing social movement.
But is this enough? Why only 15 minutes of solutions after painstakingly describing the coming collapse of Earth’s ecosystems? Why not include some discussion of recommendations to help the viewer learn more about what he or she just watched? Or perhaps, it could have shown simple steps for anyone around the world to start taking action, such as eating less meat, reusing containers, using public transport instead of driving, and narrating those images with numbers on oil consumption and carbon emissions avoided. And beyond that, why not describe the multiple interrelated transformations that need to occur, not just of our energy systems but our entire cultural systems? From what drives business to how we celebrate rituals, from what we eat to how we educate our children. Perhaps this calls for a sequel: Home Again.
For now, it is left to the viewer’s imagination to translate that macroscopic vision of our earthly home and apply it to his or her microscopic life. Let’s hope that the photographic and narrative artistry of this film is not taken for granted, and it achieves its goal of compelling the viewer to move beyond pessimism and act.