Hot Docs 2015: Planetary
Guy Reid’s new film Planetary is one of the more bountiful feasts for the eye that I’ve seen in a long time. Earth has rarely looked so beautiful. Of course, we humans are messing it up. But if you’re expecting another doom-and-gloom lesson on what we’re doing to the planet, you’re in for a surprise.
Reid’s film begins with an exploration of the planet through the eyes of those few humans who have seen it from space. That moment in the 1960s that altered human perspective, that showed the world in a new context – as a single living, interconnected system. Interviews with astronauts and cosmologists are accompanied by soft, dreamy music and slow motion panned shots of Earth from space. Stunningly beautiful. Reid takes the entire first 15 minutes of his 85-minute film to let us simply contemplate our place in the universe, to conceptualize our relationship to this single living system.
Then, he moves on to show us how our view of the world, our dominant narrative – with humans at the top of the food chain, and the Earth as a place to be mined for its resources – is inherently harmful. Through interviews with artists, philosophers, anthropologists, economists, and Buddhist and indigenous leaders, Planetary shows the world to be interconnected, and touches on ecological and economic crises, and the impact on the individual and the sense of self.
Refreshingly, the film is thought-provoking rather than didactic. Reid presents us with big ideas to contemplate rather than going for the scare or shock tactic. He doesn’t bludgeon the audience with facts and figures about all the bad things we’re doing to the planet. In most environmental documentaries, I feel like I’ve had a 90-minute classroom lecture. In contrast, Planetary doesn’t include a single graph or chart. Just a wonderful breadth of beautiful footage of the planet, and a diverse mix of smart people talking to us about the world, humanity.
It’s not a particularly easy film – it hits on lots of big, complicated issues that have no easy solutions – but it’s one that doesn’t talk down to its audience. Reid’s interviews focus on potential, on possibilities, on new human narratives that can emerge. While it’s definitely a call for change, the film manages to be both alarming and hopeful at the same time. And these days, we could use a little hope.
Screening Times for Planetary
Fri, Apr 24, 4:15 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sat, Apr 25, 10:30 AM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Thu, Apr 30, 6:30 PM Kingsway Theatre
Sun, May 3, 1:15 PM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Gallery for Planetary