Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Movie Review: Collapse

Collapse *** ½
Directed By:
Chris Smith.
Featuring: Michael Ruppert.

Michael Ruppert has been called everything from a “visionary” to “batshit insane”. The one thing you cannot deny no matter where you come down on Ruppert, and believe me if you see Collapse you will form an opinion of some sort, is that Ruppert is a fascinating man, with fascinating ideas. I do share his pessimism, but damn if for the running time of the movie he doesn’t sell it to the hilt. In a way, he reminded me of a less insane, more rational, and more left wing version of Glenn Beck, that nutcase on Fox News, who recently revealed his three G’s plan for when the country collapses. The three G’s are God, Guns and Gold (because when you’re starving apparently that’s all you need – who needs food?).

Ruppert was a LAPD officer in the 1970s, but was drummed out during the 1980s. He says it is because he discovered that the CIA was smuggling drugs into the country and selling on the streets of LA, and when he refused to go along with it, the CIA tried to kill him, and then ruined his career. Since then, he has made his modest living being a writer and investigative reporter. He distrusts the mainstream media, but knows how to read it. The big stories are never on the front page, and the real meaning is always hidden, but it’s there.

For Ruppert, he believes that the world is going to collapse soon. Fossil fuels are running out, and there is no alternative fuel source that could possibly take its place. He runs through all the alternatives, and tells you why they won’t work. He takes about reserves in the Middle East, the Alberta Tar Sands and in the Wildlife preserves, and explains why they won’t last very long. The population is booming out of control, and soon, the bubble will burst and millions, if not billions will die. It sounds like something out of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Chris Smith’s documentary pretty much allows Ruppert to explain his views for nearly 90 minutes. The film reminded me of the work of Errol Morris, as it essentially just mixes together one interview with archival footage and a musical score. We hear Smith ask questions in the background occasionally – he doesn’t seem as convinced as Ruppert is at the inevitable onslaught, but Ruppert isn’t much interested in listening to him question his views. He knows what he knows, and dammit, he’s going to tell you about it.

Some of what Ruppert says makes a lot of sense. At times he just seems like a very passionate conversationalist espousing his theories to get people to be more in tune with the earth. At other times, he really does seem like a paranoid lunatic. But I find too often that people go to movies, particularly documentaries, to have their views celebrated and congratulated. Perhaps the reason why Michael Moore’s films have never had the true impact outside of his fan base that he wanted them to is because he is essentially preaching to the choir. No one else is listening. Ruppert has a much smaller choir than Moore does, but he preaches just the same. Whether you agree with him or not, and I did quite a lot of both in Collapse, you cannot deny that he is one fascinating person – and a great subject for a documentary.

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