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From the acclaimed director of American Movie, this portrait of radical thinker Michael Ruppert explores his apocalyptic vision of the future, spanning the crises in economics, energy, environment and more.
Chris Smith's documentary about an independent reporter convinced that the world as we know it is about to end is a compelling experience. Smith is simply masterful in his presentation. Collapse takes place in a dark room, with Ruppert being interviewed over three days and some archive footage and yet never gets remotely dull. Amazing cinematography, tight editing and good use of music help a lot.
But the real element that grabs you is Smith's subject. Ruppert will be seen by some as a prophet and by others as a nutcase but he has a magnetism on screen that is undeniable. This ex-cop is well-spoken it is very obvious that he has given conferences and presentations as he begins to explain his theories.
The main point Ruppert is trying to get across is undeniable. Our planet has finite resources which will not be able to sustain our current way of life indefinitely. But Ruppert's actual discourse will never be confused with a green activist as he veers constantly into subjects such as peak oil, politicians and banks. Where Ruppert is more questionable is when he mixes opinions with facts.
Ruppert repeats that he is not a conspiracy theorist yet often acts like ones. He constantly cites people, studies and historic events that favors his point of views and ignores the rest. These are old techniques that have been used by countless gurus, theorists and leaders and Ruppert does it very effectively.
This mix of truth and speculation works because the part that is truth is monumentally percussive: We as a species will not be able to live this way forever.
Ruppert posits that the system is crashing down fast but you don't have to believe this to enjoy this documentary. He interprets all sorts of world events as symptoms and yet again, you can take it or leave it. He claims he has been shot at and that US presidents have taken a personal interest in him without offering any evidence and you can discard this. He makes a compelling argument that alternative energies we are exploring are not sustainable/viable in their actual form but you can choose to disagree. He lashes at the deficiencies of globalization and you could ignore that too.
What you can't ignore is that change will have to happen. Smith seems confident that the audience will make up their minds about Ruppert and his theories. You do not have to share Ruppert's quasi-apocalyptic vision of the future to have a great time watching this.
Despite the praise, Collapse is not without a few flaws. I wished more time had been devoted to questioning Ruppert's wilder claims. Shot at? When? Where? Who? I also thought Ruppert's angle was too focused on the US and would have loved to hear his opinion on China and a few other things.
But overall, this is a nice documentary with an air of political thriller to it. Whether it is academic or objective, is left for each viewer to decide.
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