Film Review: What a Way To Go

For years now I have studied the problems we face in the next decade; peak oil, population growth, ecological die-off, climate change and economic collapse. I have filled many internet boards arguing with other collapse junkies over whether or not a single movie could explain it all in just two hours. While visiting Pennsylvania I had the luxury of spending some time with Jason and Guili from Anthropik. We watched the recently released film What a Way To Go: Life At The End Of Empire, and at long last a movie exists that tells it all, and more, in just two hours.

Remember a time when Michael Moore was just a fat nobody from Flint, trying to get to Roger Smith of GM Motors to ask him why he fired so many people? In What a Way, writer/director Timothy Bennett, takes us back to that feeling of the common man trying to make sense of his world. Like Moore’s first film, What a Way does not have some fancy big budget, no flashy graphics, no crazy camera angles. Just a curious, middle class American dad wandering around with his video camera and piecing together the crisis we all face in the coming years; total collapse of the world as we know it.

The biggest disappointment I had from the stream of movies covering these topics (i.e. An Inconvenient Truth, The End of Suburbia, Zeitgeist, etc) came from them not scaring people enough. None of them tell the truth, all of them tell us we can fix the system by buying back into it. In the end, Al Gore says we can save the earth by buying more garbage (never mind all the scientists who laugh, “Buy light bulbs?”) None of these films tell us that the system cannot and will not, no matter what we do, work. These films tell us we can simply rearrange the chairs on the deck of the titanic.

I can’t help but hold up this low-budget dose of reality next to Moore’s latest film Sicko and think, “Who the hell cares about health care, when the whole world wavers on the brink of meltdown!?!” Problems like universal health care and workers rights, though important, appear rather trivial when placed next to… well, the apocalypse. It seems Michael Moore may have lost his touch, or perhaps he never had the nerve or desire to step fully into the reality of our situation. Thank our lucky stars that Bennett has the passion to and the talent to do what all those internet chats rooms called impossible. In short, Timothy Bennett feels like the newer, cooler Michael Moore.

The film contains a powerful arsenal of interviewees, from top writers and experts on the economic collapse, ecological collapse, peak oil and everything else collapse; Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, Richard Heinburg, Ran Prieur, Michael Ruppert, and many more. Never before have I seen all of those familiar faces craft-fully edited as such to transmit their most poignant critiques of civilization in such a short amount of time.

As I sat watching the film in awe, stuffing handfuls popcorn in my mouth I couldn’t stop smiling at the realization that though none of this information was new to me, to someone with no understanding of these problems, someone who has stayed in denial thanks to Al Gore’s inconvenient lullaby and other green-washing media, this movie will no doubt cause them to curl up into a ball in the corner and sob. It may seem sadistic to so gleefully watch such a film, but for someone who has felt alone with their understanding of collapse, this movie seems a blessing; “Now I’ve got a movie to show Mom why I do what I do!” We can only hope that once they wipe those tears away, they will feel ready to find a way out of this mess.

You can now purchase this film from their website, and I recommend you do. I recommend you show it to your beloved. I recommend you do it as soon as you can. The sooner we stop the denial and hear the facts, the sooner we can make decisions on how to deal with the current and coming crisis. I used to think surviving the collapse looked impossible. But like this movie, which also seemed impossible, a solution awaits us. Let’s seek that solution together.

Check out the films trailer below:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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7 Comments on “Film Review: What a Way To Go

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this movie Urban Scout.
    I just ordered a copy today. I can’t wait to see it and share it with everyone in my family.

  2. The trailer really got me,I have to see this.I would like to order it as soon as I’m able,the next “treat” purchase as it were.

  3. I gotta say… your glowing review led me to buy this film, and after lending it to some folks I know, I finally got a chance to see it.

    the only good thing I have to say about this film is that it is, in fact, the only film I can think of that puts all the important information in one place for someone who is oblivious. BUT… it’s so poorly done that I would not bother to show it to someone who is oblivious, because the poor quality would give them an easy excuse to blow it all off as the ideas of a bunch of kooks.

    sorry, I really wanted to like it, and support someone who must have worked hard to produce and distribute such a shocking work – but it sucks.

  4. Haha. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I liked the gritty low-budget feel of the film, but then again, I have a taste for that. To someone expecting fireworks and 3D animations, this is definitely not your film. At the very least, thank you for supporting these two filmmakers who have spent an extraneous amount of money and time on this project, I agree with you though, that to those not in the know, this films quality may make them lose interest fast… But to someone in the know, with an unquenchable need to feel affirmed in this totally insane culture, it can do wonders; “I’m not crazy I’m not crazy I’m not crazy!”

  5. I understand that Hubberts peak is accurate and that we are now past the point of peak oil. I believe many of the current events have to do with this downturn and it won’t be long before the main stream media and population wake up and understand what is going on. For me and my family, we are preparing for the life after the crash.

  6. When “The End of Suburbia” was released back in 2004, most people weren’t ready to be scared. A lot of what was discussed in the doc has come to pass since then, making “What a Way To Go” an easier pill to swallow. But there was a lot of implied doom in The End. Many viewers described it as “apocalyptic” and talked about our “end of the world scenario,” even though we never placed peak oil in that context. Similar to a grieving process, people have to come to their own conclusions before they will accept the reality of resource depletion. And before you can truly grasp the importance of “What a Way To Go,” you need to understand the context of the film through a doc like “The End of Suburbia”.

    I think it was the right approach to take at that point in history, and as the first documentary to focus on the topic, I’m proud that it reached as many people as it did.