'Last Call' tells the story of the rise and fall, and today's rebirth of one of the most controversial and inspiring environmental book of all times: 'The Limits to Growth'. Its message is ...
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'Last Call' tells the story of the rise and fall, and today's rebirth of one of the most controversial and inspiring environmental book of all times: 'The Limits to Growth'. Its message is today more relevant than ever: unlimited growth in a limited planet will bring our society and environment into overshoot and on the edge of collapse. Supported by extraordinary archive materials, 'The Limits to Growth' authors provide a provocative insight on the reasons of the global crisis and share their visions of our common future. Is there still time for a last call?Written by
A film of humdrum human interest stories and anecdotes (and little science)
I had high hopes for Last Call, which billed itself as a retrospective on the predictions of the seminal 1972 publication, "The Limits to Growth". Unfortunately, when this documentary talks about "The Limits to Growth", it literally means that: it talks about the book. Not the message of the book, but the actual book itself.
The film does start by paying lip-service to the topic of unrestrained growth, going over the old saw about rice on a chessboard, but quickly turns to roughly 80 minutes of "human interest" anecdotes from and about the authors of the book, including showing Polaroid pictures of a picnic, or five minutes of one guy relating how he built his home and garden, or Aurelio Peccei's secretary tearing up while reminiscing about the late founder of the Club of Rome, who clearly meant a lot to her (but it's unclear why the audience should care?). We also get a few mentions of the book being controversial, but the film never digs into why. In fact, the film never gets around to quoting even a single line, number or chart from the original book.
The sheer inanity of the film is best illustrated in a scene where Dennis Meadows is seen talking to German politicians. He announces that he'll switch to English, because (as he jokes) while he's competent in German smalltalk, he's more comfortable with English when he needs to say something intelligent. Now, you could easily fill 90 minutes just with Dennis Meadows saying something intelligent; but this documentary instead opts to mute the sound, then cut away, anxious to get to the next anecdote. (But hey, we learned that Dennis speaks German. Isn't that interesting?)
In the last 5 minutes of the film, we finally get an interesting discussion between Meadows and Jørgen Randers about the bleak prospects of the world's governments acting on climate change in time, and the chilling prediction of the thawing tundra causing an unstoppable runaway greenhouse effect. Those few minutes in the end of the film does not excuse the dreadful 85 minutes preceding them, however. If you want to know more about limits to growth or climate change, this is not the film you're looking for.
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