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American Experience: Earth Days

A movie directed by Robert Stone

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  • Mar 26, 2010
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Earth Days is a comprehensive history of the evolution of the environmental movement in America, told from the point of view of nine individuals who participated in the early stages and the inception of an annual Earth Day (1970). The documentary opens with compelling films, many taken from early TV commercials and news stories, illustrating how Americans became enamored with the automobile and with conspicuous consumption, the two forces that heavily contributed to the global environmental and energy crises. Former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall describes the uphill political struggle to convince presidents, congress, economists, and businessmen of the need to become more cognizant of the heavy toll taken by ordinary business beliefs and practices. Astronaut Rusty Schweickart describes the impact of the space program in building the understanding of humanity's dependence upon a very beautiful but very damaged planet. Others, including Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes and biologist Paul Erlich, tell the story of grass roots efforts to convince the public of the reality of the peril in which they are living. This is a program that is both discouraging and hopeful. The failure of the United States to act upon incontrovertible evidence is examined, and it seems that the forces that obstructed the movement in the 20th century are very much in play today. "Superabundance" and over consumption are no longer an option. Director Robert Stone and his crew, along with the pioneers who spearheaded and brought this movement into common awareness and concern, have produced a visually irresistible film layered with images from which it is difficult to look away and with messages that are difficult to ignore.

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More American Experience: Earth Day... reviews
review by . June 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Earth Days, by celebrated documentary filmmaker Robert Stone, begins with a powerful montage of United States presidents, beginning with John F. Kennedy, proclaiming the urgency of the mission to clean up our air and address our dependency on dwindling energy sources. Our future as a nation depended on it.    Of course, as we know, the urgency has not diminished (especially in the wake of the recent oil spill disaster) but the clarity of the vision has. This is signaled in the …
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Linda ()
Ranked #54
After 21 years as a school psychologist, I now work part-time at two local historical museums, giving tours and teaching special programs. This leaves me more time to enjoy my little grandchildren, and … more
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It is now all the rage in the Age of Al Gore and Obama, but can you remember when everyone in America was not Going Green ? Visually stunning, vastly entertaining and awe-inspiring, Earth Days looks back to the dawn and development of the modern environmental movement from its post-war rustlings in the 1950s and the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson s incendiary bestseller Silent Spring, to the first wildly successful 1970 Earth Day celebration and the subsequent firestorm of political action. Earth Days secret weapon is a one-two punch of personal testimony and rare archival media. The extraordinary stories of the era s pioneers among them Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall; biologist/Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich; Whole Earth catalogue founder Stewart Brand; Apollo Nine astronaut Rusty Schweickart; and renewable energy pioneer Hunter Lovins are beautifully illustrated with an incredible array of footage from candy-colored Eisenhower-era tableau to classic tear-jerking 1970s anti-litterbug PSAs. Directed by acclaimed documentarian Robert Stone (Oswald's Ghost, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst) Earth Days is both a poetic meditation on man's complex relationship with nature and an engaging history of the revolutionary achievements and missed opportunities of groundbreaking eco-activism.
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Cast: Denis Hayes
Director: Robert Stone
DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
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