List Film

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (3 stars)

(PG) 83min

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash


With The Guardian recently offering the front page headline ‘World economy shakes as oil nears $100 a barrel’, A Crude Awakening is nothing if not pertinent, giving credence to the film’s thesis that it isn’t money that makes the world go round but oil. The fact that Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack’s information-packed exposé of the oil industry has sat on a shelf awaiting distribution since 2006 gives their film an even greater sense of urgency.

The film is part of an ever-expanding genre of what you could call ‘eco docs’, films that, in one-way or another, suggest the impending ecological crises at the heart of our globalised economy. An Inconvenient Truth was its box office smash; while Darwin’s Nightmare probably remains the genre’s greatest achievement so far. Featuring interviews with physicists, oil experts and political advisors, A Crude Awakening never becomes more interesting, though, than the information it provides. Sure, it looks like oil is running out, but the film puts in a lot of air miles as it muses about ways in which we can curb our oil consumption. It touches upon alternative methods (solar, nuclear etc) but this conventionally made documentary seems part of the problem rather an ethical examination of possible cures. Undeniably fascinating but ultimately disappointing.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 7–Mon 10 Dec.

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

  • 3 stars
  • 2006
  • Switzerland
  • 83 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Basil Gelpke/Ray McCormack

Money doesn't make the world go round; oil does. So suggests Gelpke and McCormack in this information-packed look at the oil industry. Interviewing physicists, oil experts and political advisors, 'A Crude Awakening' never becomes more interesting than the information it provides.


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