Age of Stupid: Clips: Layefa & The Archivist
Early edit of Oscar-nominated leading man Pete Postlethwaite in his role as the Archivist in the year 2055 in The Age of Stupid
Tags: Pete Postlethwaite Franny Armstrong Age of Stupid Layefa Nigeria Making
Added: 4 years ago
[Layefa Malemi, a Nigerian woman struggling with poverty in her country, is pouring oil into an empty soda bottle]
LAYEFA: I buy diesel every Thursday. I sell them to one Misses Rebecca.
[cut to shots of people counting money while counting gasoline containers]
LAYEFA: I don't want to know about them, but I know she sell them to our customers. It is stressful, but it has a larger profit than selling the fish.
[cut to The Archivist watching footage of Layefa from the year 2055]
ARCHIVIST: Strange, watching these film fragments. It's like looking through binoculars. Observing people on a far-off beach. Running around in circles, fixated on the small area of sand under their feet, as a tsunami races towards the shore. They're so distant from me, I can't wave my arms or raise my voice. I can't warn them.
The Age of Stupid is a 2009 British film by Franny Armstrong, director of McLibel and Drowned Out, and founder of 10:10, and first-time producer Lizzie Gillett. The Executive Producer is John Battsek, producer of One Day in September.
The film is a drama-documentary-animation hybrid which stars the late Pete Postlethwaite as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, watching archive footage from the mid-to-late 2000s and asking "Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?"
The film begins in the year 2055 in a world ravaged by catastrophic climate change; London is flooded, Sydney is burning, Las Vegas has been swallowed up by desert, the Amazon rainforest has burnt up, snow has vanished from the Alps and nuclear war has laid waste to India. An unnamed archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) is entrusted with the safekeeping of humanity's surviving store of art and knowledge. Alone in his vast repository off the coast of the largely ice-free Arctic, he reviews archive footage from back "when we could have saved ourselves", trying to discern where it all went wrong. Amid news reports of the gathering effects of climate change and global civilisation teetering towards destruction, he alights on six stories of individuals whose lives in the early years of the 21st century seem to illustrate aspects of the impending catastrophe. These six stories take the form of interweaving documentary segments that report on the lives of real people in the present, and switch the film's narrative form from fiction to fact.
In "The Age of Stupid," a frightening jeremiad about the effects of climate change, the craggy-faced British actor Pete Postlethwaite plays the Archivist, a finger-pointing, futuristic voice of doom in 2055. Peering into a retrospective crystal ball that shows scenes from the early 21st century, he scolds the human race for having committed suicide.
The curator of the Global Archive, a storage site of human knowledge in what is now a melted Arctic, the Archivist presses a rewind button on a touch screen to show documentary scenes related to climate change that were shot when there was still time for humanity to save itself. At the end of "The Age of Stupid," which uses crude animation that depicts London underwater, Sydney burning and Las Vegas buried in sand, the Archive is sent into space.
A much sterner and more alarming polemic than "An Inconvenient Truth," "The Age of Stupid," directed by Franny Armstrong, will be taken by some as an emergency wake-up call to do everything possible to avert impending catastrophe. In the film Mark Lynas, the British environmental activist and author of "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet," warns of a tipping point around 2015 if the world doesn't immediately act to reduce carbon emissions. Once global temperatures warm more than two degrees, he says, all will be lost.
Others may find the challenges to humanity posed by the documentary so daunting that "The Age of Stupid" (the Archivist's sarcastic nickname for our time) may convince viewers that, practically speaking, it is already too late to act. Cynics may assume that the ethic of consumerism is too deeply instilled in us to be changed, as is the faith in capitalism, which depends on continuous growth. If so, we might as well put the coming horrors out of our minds and live for the moment, while hoping for a miracle.
The personal stories among which the film hopscotches examine specific situations. Two involve big oil. We meet a retired paleontologist, who worked for Shell Oil, discovering new resources off the coast of New Orleans, but who also helped rescue more than 100 people after Hurricane Katrina. This was a disaster that the Archivist, looking back, says was only the first of many similar meteorological catastrophes related to climate change.
A young woman who dreams of becoming a doctor lives in an impoverished Nigerian village where Shell operates a drilling operation. She fishes in the oil-polluted waters to raise money for her education. She laments the paradox of "the resource curse," in which oil wealth contributes to a country's poverty by putting riches in the hands of a greedy, corrupt few who neglect the education and health of a country while contaminating the environment.
An octogenarian mountaineer in the French Alps observes how the melting of glaciers has necessitated the construction of longer ladders for climbers to reach them. Another vignette revolves around Iraqi children who hate the United States and blame the American lust for oil for the war.
The two stories that best exemplify the difficulties faced by environmentalists have to do with a fledgling Indian airline and a proposed wind farm in the English countryside. Jeh Wadia, an entrepreneur in Mumbai who is starting a low-cost airline, believes he is doing good by helping the economy in India. But as Piers Guy, a wind-farm developer in England who carefully measures his carbon footprint, says, air travel is a major contributor to global warming. Mr. Guy's campaign to build turbines that would produce wind energy in Bedfordshire is vehemently opposed by residents because it will spoil their views and lower their property values.
A thread of needling gallows humor runs through "The Age of Stupid." Near the end of the film the Archivist wonders: "Why didn't we save ourselves? Was the answer that we weren't sure we were worth saving?" He may have a point.