Al Gore is back. Not as a political candidate, but as a Baptist preacher with a moral message. His favorite sermon is about the judgment day that will come upon us if we do not mend our ways and stop contributing to global warming.
In the five-and-a-half years since he won the popular vote but lost the presidency, Gore has talked to more than a thousand different local audiences about climate change. And among those he has convinced is film producer Lawrence Bender, whose credits include the less than savory Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction as well as the more redemptive Good Will Hunting. Bender is now helping Gore preach his jeremiad to a still wider audience by filming his presentation and getting it distributed to America's cinemas.
An Inconvenient Truth is not entertainment. It is a filmed lecture, and it is an effective introduction to the subject of climate change. But for a filmed lecture, it engages its audience with its moral seriousness and its avuncular and folksy style. (Europe's killer heat waves of 2003 were "a nature hike through the Book of Revelations.")
And Gore uses every technique available to today's oral communicator: There are high-tech graphics to dramatize the temperature and the carbon dioxide concentrations. There are film clips from remote wilderness to show the break up of glaciers and ice caps. There are graphics to simulate the potential flooding of Manhattan and the drowning of polar bears. There is Matt Groening-style animation featuring friendly orange sunbeams, nasty green greenhouse gases, and a hapless little girl with a melted ice cream cone.
Gore also engages us by talking about his own life and showing us stills and film clips that go a long way to explain his passion. He introduces his ...