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04th May 2014
The next of the three films, PROPHECY & POLLUTION, is a combination of documentary and docu-drama. Mr. Gorg presents it as a trilogy, made up of three short (well, see part 2) films that have a similar theme: the destruction of our planet in the name of greed. Unfortunately, the render quality issues continued with this DVD; there continued to be a horribly pixilated picture throughout the film, as well as issues with information being cut off, and the 4:3 vs. 16:9 issue that I observed with P&W.
Part I of P&P, a short film produced by Mr. Gorg in 1978 entitled AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI was an odd beginning. I was expecting a flick made in 2010, and the film opens with black and white film of the world of the Hopi that is obviously anything but modern. The story presenting in its short (9 minutes or so) running time is interesting, dealing with a Hopi who was taken from his home for schooling by the white man, and not returned for five years. It was during AoaH that I really picked up on a thing Mr. Gorg does a lot: repeating the same dialogue multiple times. I wondered at first if the narrator was just repeating himself, but then it became more obvious that I had heard a loop of the same bit of speech for the third time. Overall this section of the film was not bad, other than the previously mentioned (multiple times) rendering issues.
Part 2 is the “docu-drama” portion of the film: EARTH SPIRIT. From IMDb I learned that ES is actually a full-length (85 minutes) feature, but as Part 2 of P&P we get about 35 minutes of that movie. Through the pixilated muck I could tell that at one time this movie had nice picture quality; it appears that it was shot either on film or good quality digital, and the composition of the shots are certainly pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately the rendering again makes this hard to watch, and at times hard to understand what you are actually looking at.
Because of the fact that this is 35 minutes of an 85-minute movie, it was not long at all before I got pretty confused. While watching it I thought it was just very choppy editing and / or very bad plot, but afterwards in discovering this is just an excerpt of a full feature I realized that the confusion comes from the fact that big chunks of the movie are missing. However, the loss of 40 minutes of film does not excuse some of the goings on, e.g. the death of Uncle by being tapped by a bulldozer.
ES seems like it would be an interesting film. If rendered correctly, it seems like it may have some very beautiful camera work; it certainly has some stunning landscape photography. The acting in the film is not bad at all, and as a whole it is actually above par. There are of course some actors that lag behind the leaders, but it is a well acted, well directed movie… or at least, what I saw of ES is a well acted, well directed movie.
Part 2 ends with the full credits of ES (again adding to my confusion at the time, since I swear I didn’t see any inmates in that movie!), and then Part 3 – THIRD WORLD INVESTMENT SEMINAR – begins. And dammit, it’s that animation again. Taking a very heavy cue from P&W, TWIS is again famous people talking to a room full of investors (or at least four or five) about how to make money. You make money through power – it was oil but is quickly becoming nuclear, and some other natural resources as well – and to make the most money you exploit cultures that don’t understand the risks in getting that power for you.
Like P&W before it, TWIS again is a combination of really bad animation and over-the-top voice acting and really bad stock footage, in some cases just videos produced by others that were lifted and placed in TWIS (for example the piece on Gold). And like P&W before it, TWIS presents some really good, really important information, but does so in such a non-appealing way that it makes it hard to get the point of the film. You get the point – greed is bad, and greedy people are killing other people for their greed – but the point is hard to stay focused enough to get. TWIS could be a film that could be played in college classes, but it just isn’t high enough quality in either its presentation or its execution to actually be picked up by any professors out there.
I couldn’t even get my iMac to get far enough into the DVD to get a cap of TWIS, so just refer to P&W above.
Overall, the best part about P&P was (by far) the excerpt of ES. This seems like it may be a very interesting, serious drama about the horrible things we are doing to our planet and the way that affects some of our planets residents. AoaH was interesting, but repetitive, and TWIS was just hard to sit through. I really feel like there is a lot of good information here, but its just not presented in any way (with the exception of ES) that anyone is going to hear what Mr. Gorg has to say.
In 1969 Hopi elders in Hotevilla in northern Arizona were protesting against mining and oil drilling on their reservation. Their ancient prophecy foretold disaster, and they asked for a film.
People were on their side in resisting exploitation and pollution of their land but thought their prophecy of widespread disaster to be a desperate tactic and wild exaggeration. That was before anyone had heard of carbon or global warming. Now, forty years later, we’ve all seen that prophecy coming true, and verified by the leading scientists of the world.
But the film, like the elders themselves, has been crying in the wind. People and politicians give lip service but seek alternative energy sources so we can all keep on doing what we have been doing, just minus the carbon. The Hopi prophecy says that will not work, that only a simpler life will save civilization, but consumer capitalism says no. The catastrophe is still on track because the worst will not fall on us, but on a future generation, as the change demanded is too much.
Pity our grandchildren!!!
The film presents itself as a “trilogy,” consisting of the 1978 Autobiography of a Hopi (9 minutes), the 2007 docudrama Earth Spirit, and the 2008 quasi-documentary Third World Investment Seminar. The first segment centers on an Arizona community of Hopis. This brief work offers tremendous insight into the Hopi culture, particularly in the areas of music and dance, with extremely rare footage and interviews. While offering educational value, this segment also tugs at the audience’s nerves and sense of justice with firsthand accounts of Hopis being moved off of their land and moved to military schools to learn English and serve in World War II. The second portion, Earth Spirit, is a work of realistic fiction, portraying a contemporary Hopi family struggling with the temptation of selling land to corporations. The actors convincingly represent a Hopi family’s struggles with finances, loyalty to Hopi heritage, marital stress, and alcohol abuse. This piece is exceptionally well done and is engaging throughout. The explicit and implicit messages of loyalty and family are well delivered. An epilogue states that the film was devoted to Hopi elders who felt that a message needed to be sent to the next generation.
The third segment of the film, Third World Investment Seminar, is a satirical work dealing with economics and the environmental consequences of the free market economy. The accompanying CD consists of stills and trailers from the various segments of this work.
This work is recommended on the strength of the first two segments, but comes with the prominent cautions of the production and subjectivity concerns that accompany Third World Investment Seminar.
Similar to his short film Peace & War, Alan Gorg’s Prophecy & Pollution is made up of three smaller films. In this case, however, the three pieces add up to a feature film focusing predominantly on the Hopi tribe and their belief that to damage the land will cause suffering for all, and how pollution, in particular that brought about by coal mining, oil drilling and nuclear energy, will fulfill that prophecy.
The first segment is a 1970′s documentary entitled Autobiography of a Hopi. This sequence sets up a bit of historical background on the Hopi tribe, and as a standalone effort, is a very strong, quality short documentary effort. We learn about the tribe and their efforts to remain living harmoniously with the land around them, which eventually comes in direct conflict with corporations that come into the area to drill for oil and bring power lines in.
It is this conflict that becomes the background for the second segment of the film, a narrative short entitled Earth Spirit that focuses on a family of Hopi dealing with their own dysfunctional family issues while trying to decide whether to allow developers to invade their land, disrupting the Earth but, at the same time, bringing modern day conveniences to the region.
While this sequence dances a bit too close to the television movie-of-the-week aesthetic with some questionable, over-the-top acting choices, similar to the documentary preceding it, Earth Spirit is another strong standalone effort. That said, I can understand how the two shorts complement each other, as the narrative draws strength from the history lesson via the documentary, and is all the better for it.
The final sequence is the animated satire, Third World Investment Seminar. Similar to the animation and archival footage mix in the earlier mentioned short film Peace & War, this segment predominantly focuses on a crudely animated Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand as they make the positive case for coal mining, oil drilling and nuclear energy in third world countries while archival and news footage give credence to the contrary opinion. Of the three segments, this is the weakest, though I can understand its inclusion to try and tie together the themes of damage to the Earth and society that are brought up in the previous two segments.
Unfortunately, for me, wrapping up the film with the animated segment left a bad taste in my mouth, which is unfortunate because the first two segments deserve much better. That said, apparently the first two segments have been paired together without the third segment before, in a film project entitled Techqua Ikachi: Aboriginal Warning, so that could be worth tracking down if you have any interest in the above. For me, the opening documentary is by far the treasure of the whole, and the film does go downhill from there, but not rapidly so until the final animated sequence.
This movie PROPHECY&POLLUTION (80 minutes) was requested by Hopi elder activists a half-century ago, but writer/director/producer Alan Gorg took about fifty years to put together this mix of documentary, docudrama, and animation. Meanwhile, history caught up with the Hopi prophecy that digging out Mother Earth for fuel would bring humankind to disaster. Scenes of what oil and mining companies have done to indigenous peoples around the world preview what could be coming to all of us.
The first part of this trilogy presents the documentary AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A HOPI (9 minutes) to make the point that for a thousand peaceful years the Hopi had been doing all right by themselves out on the high desert in what in now Arizona and, like most indigenous peoples, neither needed nor sought modern industry and so-called civilization.
In the second part, a docudrama entitled EARTH SPIRIT (35 minutes), oil and mining companies come to exploit the land, provoking the kind of conflict and protest many indigenous peoples around the World have endured. Robert Tena brings spirit to the role of a pueblo teenager so corrupted by city life that his mother, played with emotional depth by Betty Matwick, carries him back to the reservation, where, like most indigenous people, she must choose between a simple life and modern convenience and comforts. The shocking death of Forrest Wood as her uncle convinces her to heed the prophecy.
The third part THIRD WORLD INVESTMENT SEMINAR (36 minutes) shows through animation and documentary clips the prophecy fulfilling for indigenous peoples in the Americas and Africa with terrible scenes of suffering and mourning for the ill and dying. The human toll is wide and intense.
This footage does entertain as well as inform. Caricature animations of Milton Friedman and other business leaders who have promoted worldwide investment in energy development should provoke discussion and curiosity, but the tragedies shown here are not entertainment as we see what horrors have been fueling our cars and plans and nuclear reactors and atomic bombs for decades. These stories should be presented in every college classroom and on television for all to see the results of what we are doing here on Earth and what could be coming to us in our turn if we ignore what those Hopi elders have been trying to tell us.