‘A Fierce Green Fire’ puts a one-sided light on environmental movement
A review of “A Fierce Green Fire,” a documentary that traces the environmental movement and selected milestones without including opposing views.
San Francisco Chronicle
‘A Fierce Green Fire,’ a documentary directed by Mark Kitchell, based on a book by Philip Shabecoff. 110 minutes. Not rated. Varsity.
“A Fierce Green Fire” is a “hooray for us” documentary tracing the environmental movement from the days of John Muir to its current global focus on climate change. It’s a decent overview of the subject, but the film’s presentation is unexceptional and it never hints that there is reasoned opposition to the views it advocates.
The documentary is divided into five segments boasting celeb narrators (including Robert Redford and Meryl Streep). Director Mark Kitchell (“Berkeley in the Sixties”) alternates talking heads with news and archival footage to recount selected milestones in the subject.
The film includes the movement’s early days (by focusing on figures like John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, both involved in the fight over damming Hetch Hetchy); the Jimmy Carter-era battle over toxic-waste dumping; the work of Greenpeace; and the attempts now to establish a worldwide climate treaty.
“A Fierce Green Fire” will be useful as an educational tool, but it won’t win over any doubters. Dissent is nowhere to be found, nor any conciliatory note. This is a movie aimed squarely at those already deeply committed to the cause and to its promotion.