A wonderfully-shot, mostly bipartisan environmental documentary, "Earth Days" is a bit of a rarity.
In taking a more even-keeled approach to environmentalism, it encourages gentler prodding to those who resist cutting back rather than taking the doomsday approach.
The film's opening shot is every president since Kennedy making speeches claiming that we need to maintain and preserve the environment, and even dares to show (gasp) Nixon as being at least somewhat receptive to the cause.
In employing magnificent, sweeping shots of the Earth, and telling the story of environmentalism since the 1950s, "Earth Days," through something of a history lesson is able to distinguish itself somewhat from the usual doom-and-gloom of the Leo DiCaprio/Al Gore crowd.
Director Robert Stone simultaneously glorifies the hippie counterculture of the 1960s, before one of our interview subjects points out that while they were anti-technology, they were sure to have their hifi radios and mood-altering drugs handy.
Sure, there are the usual messages: global warming, conservation
But Stone employs a method I've been screaming about for years, which is for filmmakers who want to get an environmental message out to everyone speaking to everyone, not preach and gladhand to the proverbial choir.
In doing so, there's actually a chance that someone watching this documentary will see that the messages that "the other side" puts out about environmental extremism and their claims that environmentalists are a collective group of granola-eating, tree-hugging psychopaths who want to knock us all back to the stone age, is more than a little inaccurate.
Stone does work in some subtle jabs at the other side, though, showing footage of early Congressional hearings from the 1960s, where it's easy to see who is against the movement, because they say things like "hoax," "alarmist," "fad," and "I noticed there are almost no black people in your movement."
They also outline the "Dirty Dozen," 12 congressmen whose environmental records were the worst of the worst. Think about this: 4 of 12 were from Indiana.
It would be easy to dismiss this film as just another envirodoc, and in many ways it probably will be simply another in a long line of films that will fall on deaf ears.
But if you're looking to convert someone on the fence and want a less-polarizing alternative to "The 11th Hour," or "An Inconvenient Truth," show them the documentary that discusses why for decades environmentalists have been saying we might have less than 10 years to fix our problems, and why the disasters they forecasted haven't come to pass yet.