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Film review: Virunga

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by tigerade, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. tigerade

    tigerade Member

    May 14, 2013
    I was intrigued by a new movie available on Netflix called Virunga. It's a documentary about the efforts to save the critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Congo. The subtitle of the film is "Conservation is war". This subtitle is not misleading. For those of us in the West, conservation means buying environmentally friendly products, lifestyle habits, and maybe donating to a charity of two. For these people, conservation is a life or death struggle. It is one thing about reading about struggles of people on the other side of the planet, it's another to hear the first hand accounts.

    There are several things that I found really amazing about this film. Firstly I'm amazed at the sheer beauty of Virunga National Park. It is like a world within a world, an enclave of mostly undeveloped land that reminds us that the world is much older than us and we get to see the results of millions of years of complex evolution and biodiversity. The second thing I found amazing about the film was the bravery of the park rangers and those watching over the welfare of the gorillas. I really don't think I've done anything in my life that can hold a candle to this level of courage. I'm just in awe by the display of true heroism and selflessness. The third thing I find amazing is the sheer carelessness, shortsightedness and greed of our fellow human beings.

    The film gives a rather unflattering account of SOCO International's effort to exploit oil in the region. The film seems to provide anecdotal evidence that the oil company may have hired a subcontractor that is fueling corruption in the already war-torn nation. There is a secret interview with SOCO employees and it is pretty damning. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but the movie probably doesn't help SOCO's image at all. However, I can tell you that SOCO did eventually bow to pressure and withdrew their efforts to exploit oil in the region. Which goes to show you, environmental activism is not useless. It does work.

    Soco halts oil exploration in Africa's Virunga national park | Environment | The Guardian


    The film is one of the best documentaries I've seen, if not the best. I have to say that I'm a bit haunted by it. This kind of film is going to stay in my mind for awhile I'm sure and does give me pause. My immediate reaction is that this is yet another reason why I think we need to lessen our dependance on oil. If we feel the need for drill at places like Virunga, how desperate are we? Is there nothing left that's sacred? It's pretty amazing. I don't know what to think. But I will definitely think. Anway, I highly recommend this film. If you have a Netflix subscription, I would definitely watch it, but there are some graphic scenes to consider if you are going to show your family. But I think it is good for us Westerners to see this kind of life and walk a mile in their shoes. If you don't own a Netflix account, I am pretty sure you can get a free 30 day trial and this film is definitely worth that.
  2. youpidou

    youpidou Member

    Aug 19, 2014
    Thank you for this hint. I will definitely watch this documentary.

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