French Film Series: Home
Mon, October 12, 2009 • 7:00 PM • Dobie Theater
"Former actor Yann Arthus-Bertrand directed this visually astonishing portrait of the Earth as seen from mesmerizing aerial views. Home is not the first documentary to survey our planet from the air, but Arthus-Bertrand brilliantly and dreamily captures the miraculous linkage within delicate eco-systems. For viewers whose eyes glaze over at descriptions of the way Earth recycles energy and matter, Home underscores the beautiful and awesome reality of that complex process. Narrated by actress Glenn Close (in this English-language version), Home begins by exploring and clarifying the natural history of water, sunlight, and the role simple life-forms such as algae played (and still play) in making the planet hospitable to more evolved, living things. As the film moves along, it also has a way of rebooting one's lazy assumptions about familiar phenomena. The Grand Canyon, for example, might be a fantastic sight to behold, but it's also a collection of billions and billions of shells compressed under Earth's oceans long ago. The carbon trapped in the Grand Canyon was drained from the atmosphere, helping--once again--oxygen-dependent life to develop.
Similarly, plant life, Home tells us, broke up the water molecule and released oxygen into the atmosphere. Everything is linked, everything is part of a grand machine--the film makes this clear in scores of ways, and not just by telling us. Arthus-Bertrand reveals the intricate, breathtaking designs and patterns of glaciers feeding rivers, of animals feeding on plant life so more plant life can grow, of Australia's great Coral Reef's role in keeping the ocean in eco-balance. Of course, a big part of the story is the impact short-sighted humans have on these systems: the way we overfish, or drain deserts of scarce fossil water, or turn non-farming lands into perverse engines for agriculture. There is much to be alarmed at watching Home, but there is much to move one as well. --Tom Keogh "