Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Last Winter

I admit it, I'm a movie bum.

I had hoped to write up my thoughts on some dvds that I've recently
bought, subscribed to, or rented over the last few months.

amongst these are King Corn (really excellent), The 11th Hour,
A Crude Awakening, What a Way To Go, and I really intend to
do so, but one that I just watched, that was really suprising
and I thought best earned some comments, was the horror film
'The Last Winter'.

I don't do horror films, I don't have much respect for the
so-called genre at all. But it was free rental night, and i
like Ron Perlman, and the teaser I saw a while back was pretty
vague, and I really like the colder regions I've spent time
in, and this one was filmed in Iceland, so I thought I'd
give it a go.

I was stunned with the overall excellence of the story. The
horror aspect is much more terrifying and subtle than demanded
by the so-called genre. In fact, I'd say it doesn't qualify.
What gore there is, is very restrained. The horror, is the horror
of a very possible even probable reality.

The movie explores the spiritual aspects of what some folks
call Gaia theory just a bit. Doesn't go into it at all, if
you are paying attention, then you'll pick it up. If not,
it doesn't explain it. The 'creature' aspect, is called the
Wendigo, and appears as a humanoid carabou, but that doesn't
really mesh with legend very well, but the spirit most certainly

The story takes place in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which
is in the process of being opened for drilling, because the
American People want to break their dependency on foreign oil.
Mention is made in the plot dialog as to how silly this really
is, how ANWR won't really contribute much to that end, and a lot
is made as to what encroaching into ANWR means in much broader

The team is the advance team doing the environmental impact study
for the ice roads needed to bring in the drilling equipment.

Of course, this isn't feasable, as the winter isn't stable, the
tundra is thawing, and the weather is becoming quite erratic.

On the one hand, we have the crew chief, who is all about getting
his equipment in. We have the environmental expert, who represents
the antithesis and all the folks in between.

It all ends in tears of course, these things usually do. But the
story of the last winter is a very real story. It's very disturbing
in the manner in which it tells the story of our times. Of the
insane drive for growth at any cost, the desperate need for it.
The voices of reason being shouted down, bad things spinning quickly,
not out of control as they were never in control, at least
not control as it is broadly thought of, but out of reason, out of understanding.

Of course, this is a horror film, so there is no happy chapter,
as in An Inconvenient Truth. Where we get told that this
probable future is avoidable if 'we keep our tire pressure
up and caulk our windows'. So, one is left with a feeling
of deep sadness, bordering on despair.

But it's a very good, very insightful movie. Very haunting.
well done.

That the screenplay was written in 2001, well before broad
exposure to the idea of climate change. (I think the first
paper I read that 'assumed' global warming was in '97 or
so, but even though it was accepted by many folks working
in the fields of environments, meteorology etc, to joe
sixpack like me, It wasn't really on radar.) speaks well
of the writer's grasp of the subject matter.

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