_— Natural selection
In the last week of May, the Edinburgh Filmhouse presents a mini-festival of ﬁlms with an environmental theme to tie in with the Edinburgh Festival of the Environment. Thom Dibdin reports.
In the days before PC. the role ofthe environment in cinema was almost exclusively a thing against which ‘real men’ pitted their strength. By vinue of its very existence. it had to be conquered. This positioning of nature on the big screen is more than apparent in thrillers such as The Sorcerer (Fri 3). the I977 remake of The Wages Of Fear. in which four desperate men drive a truck of nitro-glycerine through the South American jungle in order to secure their freedom. lfthe environment is damaged. then that is a legitimate result of their actions.
If nature is not being tamed. then it serves as a backdrop to reﬂect and enhance the tragedies being played out by human protagonists. as in Vanishing Point (Fri 27 and Sat 28). However. there are other agendas at work here.
particularly our Western civilisation's love affair with the internal combustion engine. Sadly. films such as The Living End (Sun 29) and A Strange Place To Meet (Fri 3). demonstrate that this amour/on is far from over. despite the growing concern over the destructive effects of the car.
Today. the environment. in its most general definition. has entered the Hollywood thesaurus of cinematic shorthand under an entry for innocent victim. If you want to paint a character as a heartless bounder. there‘s no need to have him brutalise a helpless woman or cutsey puppy dog. Simply mentioning that he has taken part in destroying the rainforest or strip mining for sulphur-rich coal is enough to paint
Sorcerer him blacker than the slimiest Western baddie's stetson.
As much as this represents a coming- of—age for ecology in cinematic terms. Hollywood has not had much success in ‘environmental‘ cinema. For every half-way decent film such as The Fmerald Forest. there are many floundering mistakes such as Medicine Man. Pan of the problem is that despite the best attempts of the likes of Sting to provide environmental politics with a bland liberal facade. environmental destruction is still highly politically charged.
This could not be clearer than in the controversial Clearcut (Fri 27) which not only pits native land rights activists
in Canada against the big business of
the logging industry. but also oven paciﬁsm against extreme direct action. Someone has to pay for the non- sustainable exploitation of resources by international business. and the old excuse of ‘l wasjust obeying orders' is simply untenable.
This makes the latest Steven Seagal vehicle. ()n Deadly Ground (Sat 28) doubly surprising. Here is an Action Movie which not only incorporates the environment in the centre ofthe plot. but also points the ﬁnger firmly in the direction of big business when it comes to blame. Of course Seagal ultimately resons to the use of major fire-power to rectify matters. but the film leaves you in no doubt that this is no vanquishing of the enemy. just one minor battle won in an ongoing war.
One in‘itating product ofthe urban society's mythiﬁcation ofthe environment has been to produce stunning cinematic images of nature which add up to not much more than enviro-pom. In Baraka (Sat 29). the constant stream of beauty is breathtaking. but it leaves you wondering whether there could have been a context to what you havejust experienced or if the director has simply asked Mother Nature to pout prettin for the camera. Nature is beautiful. as the gentle ambience of Atlantis (Thurs 2) shows. it does need to be saved from our destructive talents. but its exploitation. whether for cinematic delight or capital’s gain. is not the path to follow.
The [:‘nviromnental Film Festival runs at the Filmhouse. Edinburgh. front Fri 27 to Thurs 2.
'cuscow AND EDINBURGH rvrnrs cums
SPECIAL FREE SCREENING
THE LIST IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE CAMEO CINEMA INVITES YOU TO AN EXCLUSIVE SCREENING OF
THE SECRET RAPTUREus) ON SATURDAY 28 MAY AT 11.45am
TICKETS CAN BE PICKED UP FROM THE CAMEO BOX OFFIVE FROM 11.30am WITH A COPY OF THIS ISSUE OF THE LIST ON SATURDAY 28 MAY.
‘COoouc WI. M '0‘.
O video stockists
‘I'an Days' Wonder
The best in World Cinema is available to buy on video at a collectable price from HMV, Virgin Megastores and all good
The List 20 May—2 June 199419