Thursday, July 9, 2009

Peak Oil: A Love Story

This is one of the most innovative independent film projects I've seen in years. Imagine The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil meets The Decalogue meets Dil Se and you're halfway to imagining Peak Oil: A Love Story.

The premise is timely and would the world react if (when?) the energy sources we rely on suddenly stopped being sufficient for our needs? A collection of seven scenes, each depicting a unique story, ranging in length from three to thirty minutes each, take us on the journey. In an intriguing twist, the scenes have Urdu names representing the various "stages of love" from the first meeting of eyes on to all-consuming passion. The way the stages go was probably a much better fit for desperate, unapproved love in rigid medieval societies than for describing healthy, modern romantic relationships, but it does very well at capturing the stages of human response to this imagined (and future?) crisis, going from the first recognition that things have happened that will change life forever through the progressively radical responses.

I won't give away the whole film's plot(s), but do want to put in a plug for Ibaadat, the fifth scene, which features Mormons! Maybe I'm just biased, but I think the scene is also the it, Mormons have activated their lay church organization and old communal economics to make things work. The romance that develops between a convert's daughter and the bishop's son is subtle and sweet, but it's the backgrounds that are the most engrossing. The piece is set in what used to be a suburb, so there are all these vaguely familiar-looking houses, but their yards have been consecrated to the ward and converted into fields that the different quorums and stuff take care of, so the streets are just bursting with life. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at my own street again quite the same way having seen the way people use the land in the film (especially since it follows scenes where people are not doing nearly as well with the adjustment. Brrr!)

Anyway, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who's thought deeply about what the future may hold and doesn't mind sitting through some scary stuff to get to the hopeful parts. (I suppose, after all, that sitting through the scary to get to the hopeful is a pretty accurate description of much of life...) If you see the film, be sure to let me know what you think.


  1. Where did you see this? Also, kudos on seeing The Decalogue, one of the most amazing things ever.

  2. That's actually something I've been meaning to write about. There's this tiny film festival in (of all places) Orderville, UT, dedicated to films about pressing socio-ecological issues.

    Most of the stuff was absolute crap and dashed my high hopes about the festival's lofty goals. (In defense of the organizers, it probably is hard to get the cream of the crop to rural southern Utah). BUT Peak Oil: A Love Story was incredible, and a few other films had intriguing ideas if not the same level of artistic execution.

    You should definitely check it out...I think it's every other year, though, so you'll have to be patient.


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