A Fierce Green Fire Burns Unevenly


A Fierce Green Fire
Directed by Mark Kitchell
First Run Features
Opens March 1, Cinema Village

As the human footprint widens, the movements lumped under "environmentalism" grow ever more varied, which makes a far-reaching documentary about the environmentalist movement—detailing a history from its inception to the present day—a wildly ambitious undertaking. Yet this is the task documentarian Mark Kitchell has assumed in A Fierce Green Fire. Omnidirectional, A Fierce Green Fire covers Stewart Brand, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt—all in the first five minutes. From there, Kitchell and his talking heads tackle the growth of environmentalism in the U.S., the travails of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, environmental catastrophes in Love Canal and the Brazilian rainforest, and of course climate change, among other topics. The film contains some compelling moments—the argument that Richard Nixon may have done more for the environment than President Obama is rather alarming, and the Love Canal section effectively puts a human face onto the otherwise abstract statistical toll of disastrous pollution. But there's no consistent narrative thread to carry the film from start to finish, and A Fierce Green Fire fails to open any singular intellectual or psychological point of investigation. By cramming into 100 minutes material that requires at least a miniseries to be appropriately addressed, Kitchell has made his storytelling task incredibly difficult.

My Voice Nation Help

Dear Zachary,  

Your critical eye is only somewhat appreciated here.  In fact, in all honesty, it might have been better if you just kept your mouth shut.  While many films might please our own personal critical eye if they were changed to suit our opinions, sometimes it's better just to recognize amazing qualities in cinema.  Namely, in this film, this is the greater story of the environmental movement that so far has gone untold.  Frankly, i'm surprised this is how negatively the Village Voice is weighing in on such an important film that documents so many untold important stories, while papers like the Hollywood Reporter have given much more fair and positive reviews of the film.  What ever happened to the Voice?  Zachary, maybe there is a position at the New York Post that might be more appropriate for you? 

In all honestly, who has told so well the story of Lois Gibbs?  Or what about the story of the Sierra Club?  There are so many stories in this film that must be told to a larger audience, meanwhile your review treats the totality of these stories as  merely roadsigns in a battle for a more dramatic dynamic narrative.  Ah, the TV generation.  Never ones to stay in their seats long.

Zackary, while this film is obviously not one that you need, you forget your job as a reviewer:  IT'S ONE THAT WE, THE AUDIENCE AND THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, DESPERATELY DO NEED.  The people of my organization desperately need this film, but you treat it as a footnote rather than a headline.  This is a very important film and your myopic view just dissuaded many from having the opportunity to see it and decide for themselves.  And these are people that we need to have galvanized - after all, if the world is going to be saved, it's going to be in large part due to the environmental and climate justice movements.

Frankly, I'm surprised that the editors of the Village Voice would allow such an important film to be criticized through the lens of such a shallow perspective.  



David Braun, President

United for Action


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