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Originally published Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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Movie review

'Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie': an activist's legacy

A movie review of "Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie," a familiar documentary about "the godfather of the environmental movement in Canada."

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2 stars

'Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie,' a documentary directed

by Sturla Gunnarsson. 93 minutes. Not rated; suitable for general audiences. SIFF Cinema at the

Film Center.

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Ive seen this documentary and its great! Its a must see. MORE

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"Are we happier with all this stuff?"

The question turns up in several recent anti-materialist documentaries. It's implied in Al Gore's Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth," and it's stated quite clearly in Tom Shadyac's "I Am" and the new Canadian film "Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie."

Identified in the opening credits as "the godfather of the environmental movement in Canada," Suzuki is shown celebrating his 75th birthday by delivering a "legacy lecture" that covers his childhood in the internment camps during World War II, his success with the popular Canadian television series "The Nature of Things" and his more recent attempts to deal directly with climate change.

The movie is at its most persuasive when Toronto-based director Sturla Gunnarsson ("Beowulf & Grendel") focuses on the more personal and specific aspects of Suzuki's life. He vividly remembers the bitter cold of the camps, his outsider status (he couldn't speak Japanese), his reliance on fishing to keep him sane and his reaction to Ku Klux Klan racism during a lengthy stay in Tennessee.

But the lecture can sometimes sound like a series of slogans ("the oceans are a mess," "the crisis is real, and it is upon us"). That doesn't mean the message isn't valid, but much of "Force of Nature" feels familiar and unnecessarily predigested.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com

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