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So, you can expect that when a documentary filmmaker sets out to expose the energy industry for fouling the air and drinking water in the interest of more and more profits, he's going to be derided as partisan. Maybe he is partisan, but in the case of Gasland, very little about the narrative is politically overt. Yes, Halliburton and Dick Cheney are mentioned, but they'd be villains if you plopped them into a screwball comedy. What Gasland does is follow Josh Fox across the country as he documents the conditions of the land, water and air of communities surrounding natural gas "hydraulic fracture" drilling. We're talking flammable tap water here.
The film is engaging and depressing. It has its humorous moments, but they are of the gallows variety. Calls to authority are almost unanimously distressing, and the future seems bleak. But is it all really that bad? Or does Fox have sinister liberal motives? Well, like Michael Moore, Fox has formed a narrative out of real events and interviews. As such, he is likely driving the story into something like a plot, and in doing so may have featured the most dire scenarios, maybe not enough counter-point to be considered "balanced." But when the chief counterpoints being made in reaction to the film are either a) Energy industry reps or b) Hard-right bloggers, I'm going to side with Josh Fox for now. Tap water should not be flammable.
I'd also like to note that whenever a documentary like this becomes a left vs. right struggle, the argument seems to go something like this: Well, here are five errors (or "lies") made in the film. Therefore, the whole film is untrue. So, I guess that water's safe to drink? Go ahead, you try it then.
Gasland is airing this month on HBO.
The Gasland Controversy
Since winning the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Josh Fox’s Gasland has been getting a lot of attention, good and bad. I saw the movie last night on HBO, and while I was watching it, I found myself thinking, “This is an example of a good political narrative.” Good in the sense that is well made and presents information in a concise but powerful way. Good in the sense that it was bi-partisan, and put controversial subjects into a well crafted story. But as I started to research the documentary this morning in order to write this post, I found a much more complicated story. In fact, Gasland is practically a 101 crash course in the complex nature of political narratives. . .
Read more at: The Faster Times