Written and directed by New Orleans resident Harry Shearer, The Big Uneasy illustrates in detail what many folks intuited or pieced together from news reports and other documentaries—that the disastrous, deadly effects of Hurricane Katrina were not a result of “a natural disaster” but an unnatural, manmade one. Armed with volumes of data from talking heads (civil engineers, ecologists, historians, and reporters), Shearer’s documentary is a scathing indictment of the Army Corps—not only its staggering incompetence but also the scope of its power to sabotage outside investigators and steamroll dissenting voices. But it’s not just the Army Corps that the film prosecutes. Ecologists and environmentalists weigh in on how corporate greed and shortsightedness from decades ago through today have led to devastating losses of the wetlands, which are nature’s own defense against the destruction of hurricanes. The barrage of grim, infuriating information is broken up by man-on-the-street interviews of New Orleans residents who deftly dismantle misperceptions that have sprung up about the city and its citizens in the wake of the hurricane. Shearer builds an airtight case to prove his thesis, and one of his most chilling arguments is a roll-call of brave souls whose lives and careers have been systematically wrecked in pursuit of the truth.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2010