Last night, after too much talking at the Royal Geographical Society, I decided to give my vocal chords a rest and go see a movie. I was intrigued by 2012, and decided that there would be nothing I would rather do on a Saturday night than treat myself to a Premier seat at the Odeon Tottenham Court Road and watch the end of the world as we know it.
I’d read a couple of reviews that said the special effects in the movie 2012 were amazing – and they were absolutely right. I am not easily impressed by special effects. Too often they overwhelm the story, or are just plain silly – or plain dreadful. But these were seriously impressive. Unavoidably emotional seeing America crumble before your very eyes, so very realistically.
And the human side of the story was good – the characters were engaging and sympathetic, and not overwhelmed by the special effects as so often happens.
But my acid test for a film is: Was this a good use of 3 hours of my life? Did I come out feeling inspired (Schindler’s List) or enlightened (Slumdog Millionaire) or exceptionally well entertained (Pirates of the Caribbean)?
And in this case I’m not convinced.
Back in 2004, just before I decided to row the Atlantic, I had gone to a cottage in Sligo to read all kinds of books – several of which were about indigenous prophecies about an end of an era in 2012, or pole shifts, or other such doomsday scenarios. Some of them suggested that such a disaster could be averted by a raising of collective human consciousness.
So I suppose I had hoped that there might be some semi-serious take-home message about this – or at the very least that the humans in the film might show some kind of awareness of the need for a better way of doing things in the future.– but I didn’t see any hint of self-reproach about the mess we’d made of things in our last incarnation, or resolution to do things differently the next time around. I got the feeling that, give or take a couple of romances either new or rekindled, life in the new world would go on pretty much the same way as in the old.
The disaster in the film is not of man’s making – it is due to solar flares leading to increased movement of the earth’s continental plates leading to earthquakes, tsunamis and a pole shift – so maybe the makers felt that any self-reflection on the part of the humans was unnecessary.
I’m not into hellfire and brimstone, or repent for the end of the world is nigh. But maybe I do at heart like a bit of a morality tale, and would quite have appreciated just a teensy weensy bit of food for thought about how we might resolve to do a better job the next time we establish a civilization.
For myself back in 2004, I decided that the end of the world may not be nigh, but for sure one of these days my own personal world would be. I realized I didn’t have forever to make my dreams come true, and I wasn’t getting any younger, so if I was ever going to have a big adventure it was about time I got on and did it.
Within 6 months I had decided to row the Atlantic. And maybe, just maybe, at the back of my mind was the thought that if there ever was a catastrophic pole shift, about the safest place to be would be in a self-righting ocean rowboat…