FORCE OF NATURE: THE DAVID SUZUKI MOVIE
Nearly 75 years old, David Suzuki looks back on his life and the forces that shaped him, including the impact on his Canadian/Japanese family of being interned during WWII. The film is a distillation of his life's work that reaches across the major social, scientific, cultural and political events of the last 70 years. Suzuki looks at the strains on our interconnected web of life, and out of our dire present circumstances, he offers up a blueprint for sustainability and survival.
Review by Louise Keller:
Living in harmony with the elements is the message that scientist, environmentalist, educator and broadcaster David Suzuki delivers in this passionate documentary canvassing his philosophies. The film is structured around a Legacy Lecture delivered in British Columbia, in which Suzuki describes his life's works and aspirations. To soften this format of watching a man speak in front of a lectern, archival and personal footage is interspersed throughout, giving the film its heart.
Suzuki is an enigmatic figure, whose television programs over the years have had an enormous following and it is interesting he recognizes that among his greatest achievement is his ability to translate the language of science and communicate it to a broad audience. 'We have become a force against nature,' he says, citing the environmental crisis of which we are the centre, not only causing the problems but also becoming the victims of the consequences.
We first meet David Suzuki, a slight figure with unruly silver hair, frameless glasses and wearing a red shirt with black trousers, rehearsing his speech in front of a mirror in the University's dressing room. The lecture he is about to give represents a completion to his existence. When he jokingly says 'I can go home and die now', we sense he is deadly serious. Just as he asks and canvasses the all important questions: Who are we? How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? Interestingly, he reveals the answers of all these questions pertaining to himself and his own life.
Born in Canada of Canadian-born Japanese parents, Suzuki's childhood was impacted by Pearl Harbour which he describes as being the defining event of his life. Discriminated against at the camp to which the family was sent because he did not speak Japanese (and considered himself to be a Canadian kid), he became a loner. When his family was the first coloured family to move to Leamington, Ontario, he found his solace in nature. Science became his passion and obsession, his first marriage failing to survive the demands of his career, unlike his second to environmentalist and activist Tara Suzuki-Ellis.
Archival footage shows the then-hippie Suzuki and the television broadcaster at work. But the journey only becomes complete as we tag along with him on his journey of rediscovery - in Japan and in Canada with the Haida (the indigenous people of British Columbia), with whom he has great affinity.
It is easy to be swept into Suzuki's way of thinking - in part by his simple logic and the heartfelt way in which he delivers his message. Harmony and balance is the key to his philosophy and the importance of conserving and preserving nature's wealth is paramount. His legacy lecture may in parts be dry but the documentary reminds us of Suzuki's humanitarian legacy and the art of communication about issues that are vital to all of us and our ultimate survival.
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FORCE OF NATURE: THE DAVID SUZUKI MOVIE (G)
CAST: Documentary featuring David Suzuki
PRODUCER: Sturla Gunnarsson, Yves J. Ma, Janice Tufford
DIRECTOR: Sturla Gunnarsson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tony Westman
EDITOR: Nick Hector
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Curious Film
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne Cinema Nova & Sydney Chauvel, April 28, 2011