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Wrenched - Denver Film Festival Review

Author: Hint523 from USA
24 November 2014

A small-scale environmental documentary with a big message, director ML Lincoln's Wrenched is about the writer and radical conservationist Edward Abbey and how his message and legacy carried on after his death. Abbey is known for writing Desert Solitare and The Monkey Wrench Gang, both classic books for anyone who cares about wilderness and ecology, but also did some "night work" as he called it, involving tearing down billboards, destroying bulldozers, and other behavior all with the intention of stopping the destruction of the natural world. While neither are required reading, knowing the material will make the film that much more enjoyable, especially Monkey Wrench Gang, which turned out to be much less fiction than one would believe. The documentary has a great deal of archival footage which makes it easy to see the movement and get excited about what is going on, and the film chronicles from the 1970's until present day but never feels like too broad of a scale to cover.

One of the key elements of Abbey's work that made it so successful was that he made being an environmentalist fun and something that people should want to do instead of a chore or obligation. There is something truly special about the wilderness and its unfortunate that fewer people with each passing generation will have access to it, a message the film will not let you forget. There is no definitive villain shown here either: it is the mass corporations building dams and mines that permanently scar the natural world. It is hard not to see this movie and be moved to action, and Lincoln does a great job of inspiring young people today rather than seeing it as a lost cause. Edward Abbey had a spirit that continues to leave a legacy, and despite being labeled an "ecoterrorist," his principles are about respecting the natural world and realizing how imperative it is for our long term survival, something often overlooked. Wrenched is not meant to be provocative, none of what has happened should be shocking, but is actually meant to be moving and entertaining, at which it succeeds.

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