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The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (2004)

Not Rated | | Documentary, War | 5 May 2004 (Canada)
1:44 | Trailer
The modern suburbs have ultimately become an unsustainable way of living. They were originally developed in an era of cheap oil, when the automobile became the center of the way people ... See full summary »


Gregory Greene


Gregory Greene
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Cast overview:
Barrie Zwicker Barrie Zwicker ... Himself - Host
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Matthew Simmons Matthew Simmons ... Himself
Michael Ruppert Michael Ruppert ... Himself (as Michael C. Ruppert)
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The modern suburbs have ultimately become an unsustainable way of living. They were originally developed in an era of cheap oil, when the automobile became the center of the way people lived and an era when people wanted to escape the inner city to a more pastoral or rural way of life. However the suburbs quickly evolved into a merely a place to live that had neither the benefits of rural or urban life, and where one was reliant on an automobile both to travel elsewhere and even travel within the neighborhood. The suburbs are not only dependent upon cheap energy, but also reliable energy. The reliability of energy is becoming less so as demonstrated by the multi-day blackout of the North American Eastern Seaboard starting on August 14, 2003. Part of the problem of getting out of the suburban mentality is that a generation has grown up believing it to be a normal way of life, and a life of entitlement, which they will not give up without a fight. But many developers and planners and ... Written by Huggo

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Plot Keywords:

suburb | energy | oil | automobile | fuel | See All (32) »


We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up


Documentary | War


Not Rated



Canada | USA | France



Release Date:

5 May 2004 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

The End of Suburbia See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »


Box Office


$60,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?


The documentary was the inspiration for the video for "Them KIds" by musician Sam Roberts. See more »


James Howard Kunstler: Now we're stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV with an empty gas tank.
See more »


Followed by Escape from Suburbia: Beyond the American Dream (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Fun, campy historical clips, but in the end like waking out of a dream into horror
9 April 2005 | by Tilyou1See all my reviews

I always knew the day was coming. We all knew. There's only so much oil in the ground, and one day we'll run short. But isn't there supposed to be enough coal to use instead? And wind power, or something. Things for future generations to worry about.

Then this documentary hit me smack between the eyes. Oil makes the fertilizer that is the reason for the first time in world history practically no one lives on farms. When the inevitable oil shortages hit, a lot of things -- air travel, many drugs, plastics, life in the suburbs -- will become impossible. But the craziest insight from the documentary is this: oil gives us so much energy with so little effort, that without it our lives must change. Even if substitutes and conservation are implemented immediately, at best they'll smooth our landing into a strange post-oil world which (the documentary claims) could be starting NOW.

Despite its gloomy message, the documentary is often highly entertaining. It contains fabulous historical footage (sober images of dark urban factories, and campy funny stuff from the 1950's) which reminds us of why we moved to the suburbs in the first place. It also offers hope that a massive effort started now could both ease our transition from oil and make the world a better place.

My only complaint about the documentary is that it does not spend time on the mystery of why we are finding this stuff out now. How can this be a big emergency all of a sudden? We knew in the 1970s we should be preparing for a post-oil world -- and we started to prepare with alternative energy research and smaller cars. If our failure to follow through on President Jimmy Carter's initiatives 25 years ago has doomed us to a hard landing in a post-oil world, why was no one shouting about it on soapboxes?

In the end I found the documentary highly persuasive; and it left me with the terrible chill of being dragged out of a very lovely dream. This is must viewing for everyone not afraid to face a very likely near future that we still have time to do something about.

  • Charles

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