Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Convenient Mythology

So this film "Arctic Tale" had its world premier at the Silverdocs documentary film festival last Saturday:
"Arctic Tale," produced by the company behind "March of the Penguins" and narrated by singer-actress Queen Latifah, depicts the lives of female polar bear cub "Nanu" and female walrus calf "Seela" from birth to parenthood [...]

Nanu and Seela are shown facing life-and-death challenges made greater by an Arctic climate which changed dramatically during the filming and inspired the movie's theme, said Adam Ravetch, who directed the film with his wife, Sarah Robertson.

"There was a time where we were discussing, should we address climate change or shouldn't we, and we felt a responsibility," Ravetch said on Saturday [...]

"Arctic Tale" shows Seela's walrus herd and Nanu's bear family clinging to shrinking ice floes. The bears struggle to find food when the pack ice on which they hunt returns too late after summer. Both species take refuge on a rock island, where walruses become an ever more frequent prey for the much smaller polar bears.

The difficulties global warming poses for Arctic wildlife are known to scientists. But in what Robertson calls a "new genre" of nature film, "Arctic Tale" gives the problems a face with its focus on Seela and Nanu, who are often cast in human terms and shown close up.

Fantastic! All those rednecks and corporate fascists out there will finally be made to understand that Global Warming isn't just some theory; it's got a face! ... Well, no more than 23-odd faces, anyway, give or take a dozen:

Robertson said it would have been impossible to tell the story without using composite characters because of the difficulty of trying to follow an individual animal in the Arctic for the eight-year cycle shown in the film. She said of Nanu and Seela, "To us they represent the very best of their species."

The scenes were genuine -- gathered during the two or three days a month that were suitable for filming, Ravetch said. "Everything you see in the film, we observed. It is also backed up by scientific facts."

It kinda reminds me of that scientifically factual story about the single mother who immigrated here from Jamaica, the Philippines, and Albania; whose son, in spite of his being shot dead by a fellow gang member at the age of 15, pulled himself up by the bootstraps after a life-altering experience at 17; got himself a university education; became a Crown Attorney; got killed again, this time from a faulty airbag and secondhand smoke; then married a beautiful wife with AIDS; had three children all of whom died from SIDS, helmetless tobogganing, undiagnosed dyslexia and various lynchings by various stripes of bigot.

Man! What a mind-boggling tragedy that was.

Still, for all the good "Arctic Tale" might be doing, I can't help wondering if its benefits really justify such flagrant speciesism? Ah well! Babel wasn't built in a day!