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Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, A
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by Laura Kyle

"Syriana for Dummies"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: If you drive a hummer or believe the Bush administration's motives behind the Iraqi War have nothing to do with oil resources in the Middle East, Oilcrash's apocalyptic foreboding will go in one ear and out the other. But if you're a member of the conservationist anti-war choir the doco is preaching to, it'll be a brutal reminder of how precariously dependent the US (and the world) is on oil. While Syriana mostly confused folks, Oilcrash is straightforward enough to scare them.

But what good does that do really? The audience most needy of Oilcrash's message will be the first to gripe about its undeniable sensationalism while the audience that 'gets it' is simply told all the world's economies will inevitably collapse and there's little hope the human race will survive past the next few centuries.

But even though Oilcrash will have trouble changing many people's minds and even though it offers little solution to the problem, it's got an edgy and refreshingly holistic take on the oil crisis and its catastrophic predictions for mankind are outright compelling.

The film asserts that money isn't what makes the world go 'round. Nope, that stuff underneath the ground the dinos left over is our Life Force... and if we run out of it, we may just go extinct like those dinos.

Viewers are given an enlightening history on the discovery of oil and all sorts of geologists, accompanied by a terribly ominous score, hypothesize about how long it will take before the world's known oil resources run out and what exactly will happen when (not if) they do. Footage of violence and chaos in civil war torn parts of the Middle East serve as warnings for what the developed nations might turn into as resources continue to dwindle. Indeed, America's preoccupation with the Middle East, and ultimately occupation, is a frightening indicator of how old-fashioned imperialism may make a terrifying comeback.

Oilcrash is ridden with facts, insights, and case studies, and lots of the information is probably new to even the most diehard conservationist. But it does little more than leave the viewer to ponder the irony of how human ingenuity (in seeking out and refining oil) is what got us into this mess, and as of yet, human ingenuity can't get us out of it.

Oilcrash gives most of the alternative energies out there more than a cursory glance, but they're basically rendered too inefficient to wean us off of oil. Technological innovation and research could do the trick, but what Oilcrash is intent on getting across is that as of right now, we're consuming oil, a non-renewable (yet invaluable) resource, at a rate that can't possibly sustain us and there's no viable solution for this.

Oilcrash says the oil crisis is direr than we think it is. And perhaps that's all it needs to say. After all, despite how excessive it can be at times, its general argument is worryingly strong. However, I feel more apathetic and hopeless about the situation than I did before, and I can't help but want an anti-fly-on-the-wall documentary to inspire some sort of social action.

If not a helpful cautionary tale, Oilcrash is still a startling, well-made documentary and every minute of it is entertaining. If you've got a morbid curiosity for the story the White House isn't telling you, Oilcrash is an ugly and sobering take on one of the biggest issues the world faces today.

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originally posted: 03/21/06 09:14:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/25/07 Russell A disturbing, apocalyptic documentary that should mandatory viewing for all. 5 stars
4/06/06 Tom Myers gripping documentary about a global problem 5 stars
3/18/06 Peter Comprehensive discussion of the peak oil issue with multiple credible experts. A must! 5 stars
3/06/06 Julia Awesome 5 stars
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Directed by
  Basil Gelpke
  Ray McCormack

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