“[A sense of] wonder is central to what it means to be human,” says one of the interview subjects in Love Thy Nature, an earnest call to arms written and directed by Sylvie Rokab.
As with many documentaries imploring us to respect the Earth and understand that homo sapiens are just an actor on its stage rather than the director, Nature all but bludgeons with beauty to get viewers on board. Frolicking lion cubs, zebras galloping across the plains, and chubby babies playing on the beach are all in the arsenal, spliced between foreboding statistics and analysis from scientists, doctors, and activists.
Filmed like a lush travelogue (it always emphasizes that under massive trash heaps and behind oil-slicked sea fowl is Earth’s boundless beauty), the film is narrated by Liam Neeson speaking in first-person as mankind itself: “Among all the species here on Earth I think of myself as the most intelligent, self-reflective, and wise. But am I?”
Bolstered by citations from the work of Descartes and quotes from philosopher Rudolf Steiner, Nature tackles questions of our role on Earth, our part in its care and destruction (as well as our own health), and how we might refrain from destroying it. Though the heavy-handed score is emotionally manipulative, Rokab alternates between hopeful and grim prognoses, mercifully providing a measure of hope and possibility that many films of this ilk do not.
Love Thy Nature
Written and directed by Sylvie Rokab
In the Light Productions
Opens April 22, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 15, 2016