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The Great Barrier Reef (Photo: Elzevir Films/Europacorp)

Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Produced by
Denis Carot & Luc Besson
Released by Fraiche Europe
France. 93 min. Not Rated

Home is like a mash up of other more effective and specific alarm-bell documentaries, most obviously An Inconvenient Truth, The 11th Hour, and even Food, Inc. It rehashes much of the same doom-and-gloom regarding man and the environment: the destruction of the Rain Forest; the melting of the Arctic ice cap; the rise of oil-powered food production, and so on.

Narrator Glenn Close, at her most schoolmarmish, speeds through the 200,000-year-old relationship between man and nature, devoting the most time to the last 150 years after the focus abruptly shifts from primitive man to destructive oil-producing societies. She admonishes us ad nauseam that, “we have forgotten that natural resources are scarce” and reminds us constantly about the interconnectivity of all living matter.

During the deluge of facts and figures, sharp ears are required—the translation from the original French voice-over needed an extra fact checker. I will now never feel so bad for writing a factual error. Apparently towns were formed 600 years ago (I think Close meant 6,000 years), and Tokyo is the world’s most populated city. Shanghai or Mumbai might disagree.

Towards the end, the film decries, out of left field, the vast amount of military expenditures in comparison to money spent on aid to developing countries, just one of the many issues the film picks up and discards. Yet nowhere does it confront the issue of population growth. The film mentions the tripling of the world’s population since 1950, but sidesteps the need for birth control or that the population explosion is largely centered in the developing world. That would be too pointed and out of character for a visually breathtaking diatribe. It would have to get ugly.

At an unhurried pace, the aerial camera glides over the world (in over 54 countries) filming every type of geography possible: a pack of elephants stomping in wetlands; the gaudy grandeur of ostentatious Dubai. Accompanied by a world music and Philip Glass-light score, Home owes as much to the hypnotically dazzling Koyaanisqatsi (1982) as it does to the previously mentioned films. Even scarred landscapes have a harsh beauty, suitable for framing. The deep purple, reds, and mustard yellows from a ripped and mined topography look like color selections in a make-up kit or an artist’s palette.

Ironically, Home would greatly benefit screened on a jumbo 103-inch, energy soaking flat-screen TV. Who needs the Super Bowl as an excuse? Because of the widescreen erratic and color patterns, it may also bring an appreciation for abstract art in a manner that no film has yet achieved. You’ll be asking yourself, is that a Jasper Johns or a Georgia O’Keeffe? Kent Turner
February 4, 2011



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