Tomorrow I will be showing the documentary HOME as this week’s video, which I consider one of the most important documentaries of the past decade.
It was made by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, produced by Luc Besson and financed by PPR, a French multinational holding company specializing in retail shops and luxury brands.
The HOME of the title is our fragile home here on Earth, which we share with so many different life forms, and shows how we are all linked together in a delicate balance which has grown up organically over the billions of years that constitute the history of our planet.
As you can see from some of the stills I am including the photography is spectacular indeed. The visuals in the film consist mainly of aerial photography, which was taken in over 50 countries around the world over an 18-month span. It gives a bird’s eye view of the planet which helps to situate not only the inter-connectedness of all living beings, but also our own position in its evolution.
The film was released in 2009 in what appears to have been the largest film release in history, being shown simultaneously in 181 countries and released in 18 different languages. But even more important it was also shown on Television and released on youtube at the same time, with the intention of making it freely available to all. This in itself, given the importance of its subject matter, is a milestone in documentary history.
The film can be divided into four segments, the first 25 minutes is concerned with the origins of life in bacteria, which started a transformation of the atmosphere making it possible for more life forms to evolve. Only after millions of years did such complex organisms as trees appear.
Then came homo sapiens, the wise human, and the early epoch changing discovery of agriculture in which people for the first time started making large-scale changes to the way our planet works and to its balance and fragile harmony. According to the documentary, half the people in the world live through agricultural means, and one quarter are still without anything but natural energy sources.
The second and longest segment is concerned with the rise of the Industrialised world, which since the 19th and 20th centuries, first with the exploitation of coal and then more importantly of oil, the world has been changing at an ever increasing speed. “Faster, faster,” as the narrator intones, as some of the magnificent achievements during the past century are highlighted, culminating with the building of what is basically an artificial city at Dubai.
But then in the third section the mood changes, as we begin to see the destruction and the imbalance which untrammeled development has wrought. Oceans emptied of life, with three-quarters of fishing grounds depleted; rainforests cut down for monoculture crops like soya, eucalyptus and palm-oil, which has destroyed the bio-diversity; fossil water supplies running out, and fresh water being mixed with salt water through the disappearance of the ice-caps; fire-storms raging through many countries; and the possibility of large-scale migrations and methane poisoning on the horizon. This section culminates with some illustrative statistics which I will put in the follow-up blog on Saturday.
The fourth (and significantly the shortest) segment concerns the power we still have to make the right decisions and stop the decay before we are all overpowered by its results. There are examples of solidarity and conservation; responsible consumerism and the investment in alternative energy sources.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow and watch the film online.
All of the breathtaking photography in the film was taken from the air, but when I first saw it I thought at times we were witnessing animation so abstract is some of the scenery. Here is a selection of some of the most abstract of the stills I saved from the film.
Devastated Forest Land in Borneo