By Robin L. Murray

Ecocritical takes on renowned film.

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Extra resources for Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge

Sample text

In Wild River, Kazan has the luxury to examine the TVA from a distance of more than twenty years. In 1960, the TVA is a fact, and the South now has electricity and a growing industrial base, in large part because of the success of the TVA; the floods of the 1920s and 1930s are a distant memory. Wild River can now focus on the drama surrounding individual rights versus the needs of the federal government. Both Wild River and The River assert that the TVA represents progress without interrogating environmental and economic arguments still debated to this day: Should the production of electricity be controlled by public or private agencies?

Herzog also takes the time to explore intimate details of Kuwaiti citizens who have been brutalized by the Iraqi invasion. But both films depend on the nature of the fires that only images can fully describe. As a way to clarify the power of the image of an oil fire, it is important to reiterate that Fires of Kuwait was originally shown on enormous screens using either the IMAX or OMNIMAX format that hyperbolizes the physical impact of the visual. Herzog’s meditative, more metaphysical art piece, however, adds weight to spectacle without IMAX effects.

Should the environment (especially the Mississippi River system) be controlled by governmental agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers, or should environmental groups or even private enterprise intervene and provide a more broadbased restoration project? In spite of each film’s failures, however, The River and Wild River stand out as films—eco-films, if you will—that explicitly address and support a viable solution (TVA dams) to consequences (flooding) of real environmental exploitation (overuse and overdevelopment of land).

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