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WHAT A WAY TO GO
LIFE AT THE END OF EMPIRE

 

DVD Case Front Cover

a documentary by TSBennett & Sally Erickson
http://whatawaytogomovie.com/

 

A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle.

 

«Nothing less than a 123-minute cat scan of the planet and its twenty-first century human and non-human condition.»
Carolyn Baker

 

What is it doing to us as thoughtful human beings as we face the overwhelming challenges of:

And what is it doing to the rest of the life on this planet?

Featuring interviews with Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Richard Heinberg, Thomas Berry, William Catton, Ran Prieur and Richard Manning, What a Way to Go looks at the current global situation and asks the most important questions of all:

 

Writer/Director: Timothy S. Bennett
Producer: Sally C. Erickson
Consultant: Barbara Trent, Producer and Director of the
1993 Oscar® winning feature documentary, The Panama Deception.

 

A review by Derek J Wilson

Doctor Karl Menninger opens this brilliant mind splitting 2007 documentary.

The picture you are about to view is the problem of self-destruction. Its purpose is to help people better understand the nature of this strange tragic act. We shall not be able to diminish this great human affliction until more people do understand it and appreciate its seriousness.

All the while a young man climbs out onto a window sill of a high office building overlooking a busy street.
With Pogo’s famous words – «We have met the enemy and he is us» – writer/director T S Bennett and producer Sally Erickson start their highly intelligent, enlightening and profoundly shocking two hour film What a Way to Go.
The writing has been on our walls for a long time. We could go back well before “the greatest mind and paramount icon of our age” Albert Einstein, but as far as our civilisation is concerned he saw our demise coming with great clarity and advised accordingly.

We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.

Few listened then, or before that, and few have listened since. All the while, we humans have had an increasingly devastating impact on our Earth’s ecological web of life. It’s as though we have been in denial all this time and have not wanted to listen. Einstein also observed:

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Einstein surely got it right, as What a Way to Go so clearly shows. Our civilisation is stupid. Many would go further and say insane. What peoples in their right minds would inexorably and with ever increasing speed keep driving towards the edge? Well, many past ones in fact have, but with one major difference. As the first civilisation to be equipped with every technical device we have dreamed up we have failed to learn from history and thus provide for our proper continuity. As Aldous Huxley is reported to have said: “That men do not learn very much from history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
What a Way to Go is told by Tim Bennett through the eyes of “a middle-class [American] white guy” in such a way that the viewer is placed at the centre of our journey. This is in four parts: “Waking on the train”, “The train and the tracks”, “The locomotive power”, and “Walkabout”. In just over two hours through a series of riveting images, archival news photos, short interviews and statements, with effective low-key soundtrack music, we explore our planetary predicament.
The sub-titles apportioned amongst these four parts of our journey are lengthy and include

  1. The Basics of Peak Oil
  2. The Basics of Climate Change
  3. Impact on Living Things
  4. Abrupt Climate Change
  5. Positive Feedback Loops
  6. Tipping Points
  7. Overwhelm
  8. The Basics of Mass Extinction
  9. Vacuuming the Oceans
  10. Draining the Water
  11. The Basics of Population Growth
  12. Population Dynamics
  13. The Growth Economy
  14. Exponential Growth
  15. Expansion and Colonisation
  16. Wealth and Inequality
  17. Poisoning the Planet
  18. Economic Collapse
  19. Totalitarian and Catastrophic Agriculture
  20. Resource Wars
  21. Catastrophe or Conscious Intention
  1. Inevitability
  2. Choice
  3. How Did We Get Here?
  4. What Keeps Us Trapped Here?
  5. Ancient Origins
  6. The Rise of Empire
  7. Science and Technology
  8. The Myth of Technofix
  9. The Fantasy of “No Limits”
  10. Power and Control
  11. Cultural Binders
  12. Systems and Structures
  13. The Mainstream Media
  14. The Government
  15. The Educational System
  16. Abuse and Addiction
  17. Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  18. Denial
  19. Helplessness and Resignation
  20. Padding Our Cells
Coupled with this long and by no means complete list is a longer one of day-to-day insanities to which you may add your own. It doesn’t make happy reading, in fact quite the opposite, for the true nature of our stupidities is fully and brutally exposed.
What a Way to Go spells it out in no uncertain terms to the point where one is compelled to do all one can to effect a turn around before it is too late. In other words this is the most demanding wake-up call to all and sundry I have so far seen – a very hard kick in the groin, a straight punch to the face – no mean feat for any film – and essential viewing while there may still be a little time.

Does the film provide an answer to our affliction? At the end, our “middle-class white guy” is shown walking along roads, into and through bush and ending up on a beach looking out to sea where he is joined by shadow figures of fellow human beings. One can feel the very presence of the limitless ocean. This is where we are – on the beach – confronted by boundless water. The image of the young man on the window sill is shown and the question is raised as to whether he really wants to commit suicide. The answer is obviously no. As the ancient Chinese put it:

If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.

Derek J Wilson
July 2007

 

A review by Kevin Moore

Stunning and captivating, this is surely the film we [the environmentally aware and politcally aware] have all been waiting for. Unlike other films with similar themes which offer watered-down versions of reality or offer cosmeticism as so-called solutions, What A Way To Go tells it how it really is – that humanity is charging full speed ahead, like a runaway train, towards self-annihilation, via destruction of the habitability of the planet we live on. And what is more, by following this path of destruction, we as a species are causing the extinction of countless other species.

What A Way To Go clearly identifies the dominant economic system as the culprit that is taking us towards catastrophe and shows how most of us have unconsciously accepted and adopted “stories” about the right way to live that are in practice founded on false or out-dated notions.

What A Way To Go tackles the great issues of our times in a sensitive, but straight-talking manner. The film is superbly edited, bringing together archive material and recent interviews with both experts in their fields and ordinary folk, to produce a coherent, well-paced story. The visual images reinforce the sometimes witty, sometimes droll, sometimes just plain informative narration. And the music enhances the messages and brings the finishing touch to a superb production.

There are few films of this nature that do not cause me to say: «That is not scientifically correct,» or, «The producers didn’t think it through to its logical conclusion.» But this is one. What A Way To Go is one of the few films [on these topics] I can wholeheartedly say I am in almost complete agreement with, both in the scientific content that is presented and the implications for society that are highlighted. It is only the matter of whether disturbance to the thermo-haline conveyor [that could lead to localised cooling] will be overwhelmed by rapid heating of northern land masses that I might say: «I have my doubts.» Everything else in this film is pretty much spot on as far as I am concerned and therefore What A Way To Go is a must-see film for every adult with access to a cinema or a DVD player.

Kevin Moore
June 2007

 

Who is Kevin Moore?
Kevin was aware that much was “not right” with the system for most of his life, but like so many others got caught in the trap. However, since 1999 he has been actively fighting the system. He has written two books, Burn Baby Burn and New Zealand Guide to Surviving the Future. He is a member of the Advisory Board of ASPO-NZ and a leading contributor to this site.