THOM HARTMANN'S "INDEPENDENT THINKER" REVIEW OF THE MONTH FOR TRUTHOUT/BUZZFLASH
Each month or so, BuzzFlash is privileged to have nationally syndicated progressive talk show host, television newscaster and author Thom Hartmann review a progressive book or DVD exclusively for BuzzFlash/Truthout. See all of Thom's reviews for Truthout/BuzzFlash at "Independent Thinker."
Gasland (DVD) (Available by clicking the link, with a minimum contribution to Truthout/BuzzFlash)
Directed and Narrated by Josh Fox
Reviewed by Thom Hartmann
Both aesthetically and practically, there are several things that make Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland" extraordinary and unique - and, frankly, the sort of view that will make you want to share it with everybody you know (particularly if they are politically active or an elected official!).
The first is that Josh Fox - the guy who made the movie - is also the guy who lived the story. Rarely do we find this combination in a documentary, and when we do it's often because somebody who was already an accomplished documentarian went out in search of a story to jump into and make a movie from. In this case, the story started with Josh being offered what are really big bucks - $100,000 - for poor people in rural Pennsylvania, if only he'd let his land be used to drill for natural gas.
This started Fox on his odyssey, which led him from the hills of Pennsylvania, across the American Midwest and West, and ultimately to discoveries about mind-bogglingly corrupt deals made by the Bush Administration and Dick Cheney which - literally - have and continue to poison American citizens.
The main focus of "Gasland" is "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing, a way of busting up underground seams of shale so distributed bubbles of gas can form into large, and tappable, pools of natural gas. Think of breaking up the inside of a sponge, for example.
The technique involves a witches' brew (no slur intended on our noble Wiccan friends - just don't have a better term) of toxic chemicals, waste water, and whatever else may be at hand pumped into the ground under incredible pressure to crack or fracture these underground formations. In a perfect world -- with water tables always totally separate from the places where God put them -- it actually has a certain engineering geek elegance to it.
But this isn't that fantasy world. Instead of just recovering gas, the chemicals often seep into water tables - usually with some of the natural gas - leading to some of the most dramatic scenes in the movie where residents of gas country are able to light their tapwater on fire as it's coming out of the tap.
It's a testimony to Fox's brilliant filmmaking that "fracking" has become part of our lexicon, Halliburton's and Cheney's crimes are becoming more widely known, and citizens are organizing across the nation to fight back. Another backhand testimony can be seen in all the very clean/beautiful/elegant TV ads - costing the industry millions - to try to make America's natural gas industry so pure, friendly, job-creating, and and all-American. If Fox hadn't made this movie, they wouldn't have to be spending all this money to greenwash their dirty work.
This movie is at once folksy/friendly and to-the-gut-hard-hitting. It shows the essential goodness and, frankly, vulnerability of most middle Americans - while bringing into stark relief the horrors of the behavior of the few sociopathic predators among us who have used their lack of a conscience to elevate themselves to positions of great power and wealth.
And it implicitly is a call to action that will inspire you for a long, long time.
Be sure to invite a dozen friends and neighbors over when you watch it - and consider it as the perfect birthday or other gift for any friends who need a good awakening.
This is one of the finest pieces of filmmaking to come along in quite a while.
Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling author and host of the top nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his program. He also now has a daily television program at RT Network. You can also listen to Thom over the Internet.