The Age of Stupid
Marrying Britain’s honourable tradition of dystopian sci-fi (The War of the Worlds, Brave New World, 1984) with the eco documentary form (A Crude Awakening, An Inconvenient Truth, The 11th Hour), Franny McLibel Armstrong’s film is an aesthetically pragmatic, ethically dogmatic attempt to save the world. More or less a documentary study telling six stories from four continents, the film’s strength lies in their variety – two of which suggest self-conscious awareness from the position of comfort; and two the ambivalence involved in doing one’s bit, and the remaining two from people deprived of status and power and who could benefit from a greater equity of the world’s resources. As the filmmakers talk to people from England, France, the US, India, Iraq and Africa, so one sees the need for a rainbow coalition if we’re to live much beyond 2055.
Which is where the sci-fi comes in as framing device, with Pete Postlethwaite playing a character looking after the Global Archive in the future near the now melted Arctic, as the film becomes an extended suicide note about the human race’s death drive. The film isn’t quite as despairing as all that, and the sci-fi element is clearly a device to give us all a kick up the backside and do more to stop the raping of planetary resources. Consumers of the world unite, The Age of Stupid proposes. We have nothing to lose but our impulse buys and quick fix identity products, many of which promptly find themselves in landfills in China anyway.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, and selected release, Fri 20 Mar.