12 Dec 2006
Review – New Peak Oil Film “Crude Impact”.
Last week I watched the new peak oil film, **Crude Impact**, produced by Vista Clara films, which has just emerged on DVD. It describes itself as “a film about how energy use, particularly fossil fuels, has impacted the earth, mankind and other species”, and is one of a couple of new peak oil films coming out over the next few months. I had been looking forward to seeing it for some time, and I found it to be an extremely well-made film which clearly and passionately presents the argument that we are at or near the peak, which will be a transition of historic importance.
Crude Impact is a very useful addition to the peak oil DVD library, exploring areas that previous films have not yet gone into. Having said that, I did feel that the film possibly suffers from being too long. It runs for over 90 minutes, and despite my being avidly keen to watch it, I did catch my eyelids drooping occasionally. Although enjoyable, impactful and informative, I did feel that Crude Impact tries to do too many things. It attempts, within its 90 minutes, to be a film about peak oil, climate change, Third World development issues, solutions, economics and a few other things besides. Unlike the film it will inevitably be compared to, The End of Suburbia which does two things, peak oil and its impacts on the suburban pattern of living, Crude Impact spreads itself too thin and, I felt, suffers a bit as a result.
The film has some great interviews, in particular with Thom Hartmann and Richard Heinberg, and some excellent archive footage. Visually it is very engaging, and the production values are very good. Although a more ruthless editor might have drawn a more focused and concise film out of what is undoubtedly excellent material, Crude Impact is a powerful and thought provoking exploration of the hold that oil has over the world.
It is revealed not as a benign power source, but as the source of most conflict, despotic regimes and of much environmental destruction. It is, the film argues, an addiction with extremely unpleasant and messy side-effects. Little is discussed in terms of what our lives might look like without it, but that is not the film’s purpose. Crude Impact focuses our minds not only on our dependence on oil, but also on all that has been done in order to sustain our habit. As such it is a very powerful tool in our attempts to break our collective addiction.