Cli-Fi: Hollywood and Climate Change

Some thoughts about how Hollywood represents and understands Climate Change.

In her influential piece, The Imagination of Disaster, written in 1965, Susan Sontag caricatured science fiction films from the 1950s and early 1960s as inadequate responses to ‘unassimilable terrors’ that infect the consciousness of citizens when faced with ‘processes of radiation, contamination and de-struction’.[1] She argued that the existence of nuclear weapons created a reality which ‘greatly enlarged the imagination of disaster’ and created a threat that was ‘no longer local’ but was ‘planetary, cosmic’.[2] For her, science fiction films of the era generalised disaster as a fantasy which ‘releases one from personal obligations’ by ‘perpetuating clichés about identity, volition, power, knowledge, happiness, social consensus, guilt [and] responsibility’, clichés which were totally inadequate when faced with the prospect of nuclear war.[3]

This piece explores a number of recent popular science fiction films within the context of our own apparently ‘unassimilable terror’, climate change. Froust and Murphy  suggest that public understanding and perceptions of climate change contain the ‘hallmarks of apocalyptic rhetoric – a linear temporality emphasising a catastrophic end-point that is more or less outside the purview of human agency’.[4] Given this, how have modern science fiction films responded to this contemporary manifestation of  Sontag’s ‘Imagination of Disaster’?[5] This piece will provide a brief overview of ecocritical responses to popular science-fiction films from the 1950s to the present day, before exploring the environmental discourses which appear in three recent science fiction films – Avatar (2009), The Road (2009), and Interstellar (2014).[6] In addition, brief reference will be made to other recent science fiction films, such as Children of Men (2006), The Book of Eli (2010), and Snowpiercer (2013).[7]

While there are a number of interpretations of 1950s science fiction films, ranging from the dramatisation of repressed sexual desires to anxieties about the burgeoning field of genetics[8], there is a general consensus that science fiction films in the 1950s and early 1960s largely reflected disquiet about nuclear weapons.[9] This was manifested in fears of nuclear testing, radiation (leading to biological mutations) and in the supposed nuclear menace that Communist Russia posed to the United States during the Cold War. In his ecocritical reading of the science fiction films of this era Pat Brereton argues that the fear of nuclear war, and subsequent nuclear contamination, ‘helped construct a universal, if nascent, eco-consciousness through the growing understanding and fear of (non) natural forces and their resulting threats to human nature’. For Brereton, these films not only had a ‘red agenda’ but also an embedded ‘green message’ which focussed on the potential for the extermination of all life on earth.[10] William Tsutsui deepens this analysis by looking specifically at the so-called ‘big-bug’ movies of the 1950s such as Them! (1954), Tarantula (1955), and The Deadly Mantis (1957). He contends that these movies demonstrated a common unease in the United States about insect infestations and the government’s widespread use of DDT to try and control these infestations.[11] Joshua Bellin concurs with Tsutsui’s argument and draws attention to how contemporary rhetoric around insects presented a supposed ‘war’ which was being waged between insects and humans over access to land and food. A ‘war’ which was being fought with chemicals just as the first  Congressional hearings on the dangers of insecticides occurred in 1950. Bellin argues that Rachel Carson drew on the fictional rhetoric of ‘big bug’ movies to help problematize the use of chemicals in the United States in her seminal work Silent Spring (1962).[12]

A particular trope of these 1950s science fiction films is their almost universal ambivalence towards science and technology. While science and technology is often the cause of problems which endanger human life, be they giant bugs (Them!) or mutated humans (The Fly, 1955), science and technology are always there to make things right again. As Sontag notes, the message is ‘strongly moralistic’ for science releases forces for good, which can turn bad if moralistic values are not upheld.[13] In this understanding, science and technology become, in and of themselves, valueless. They only become a ‘problem’ at the hands of unstable or irrational humans, who then have to be defeated by rational humans often using the very same technologies.[14]

Science fiction in the 1960s generally followed a similar trajectory to that of the 1950s, being largely concerned with the threat posed by nuclear weapons and radiation. The Day the Earth Caught Fire(1960), Village of the Damned (1960), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) and Planet of the Apes(1968) all revolve around either nuclear war or concerns with radiation. Carter Soles argues, however, that a number of films from the 1960s offer a different ecocritical reading. He contends that Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) can be read as a response to Carson’s Silent Spring, while Night of the Living Dead (1968) can be read as an environmental disaster caused by human folly associated with the ‘space race’.[15] Soles argues that these films should be read within the context of the passing of the Clean Air Act in 1963, the Water Quality Control Act in 1965 and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 which, he suggests, indicates that ‘a sea change in American attitudes toward ecological consciousness was on the horizon’.[16] The 1964 production, The Last Man of Earth, should perhaps be added to this list, dealing as it does with the consequences of collapse precipitated by plague.

The 1970s was certainly as period of heightened ‘ecological consciousness’ driven in large part by the 1968 publication of Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) thesis both of which highlighted concerns about world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion.[17] The 1970s has been characterised as the decade of the ‘Eco-Disaster’ film as a number of science fiction films were released which spoke explicitly to concerns about the environment.[18] Whereas the previous era’s science fiction films had been dominated by fears of nuclear war, 1970s science fiction films were largely concerned with population growth which was felt to be out of control and entirely unsustainable.[19] In Logan’s Run (1976) the population is controlled by compulsory euthanasia at the age of 30, while in Soylent Green (1973) the planet is so overpopulated (the population of New York is said to have reached 40 million by 2022), and so damaged by pollution, that the only way to feed its population is to feed them the remains of dead citizens in the form of ‘biscuits’ known as Soylent Green. In No Blade of Grass (1970) pollution results in the creation of a viral infection which destroys food crops throughout the world. In Silent Running (1972), which has a very obvious environmental message, space ships float like arks in space containing all that is left vegetative life from a polluted earth. The Omega Man (a remark of the 1964 science fiction film The Last Man on Earth) presented a world destroyed by biological weapons.

Lincoln Geragthy argues that the ‘overarching theme of this period in science fiction on screen was dystopia’ perhaps most ably portrayed in Soylent Green. Geragthy contends that ‘nature’ no-longer exists in Soylent Green and the film is, therefore, a call to develop an environmental awareness to ensure the maintenance of a life on earth that has not lost all sense of morality.[20] Murray and Heumann argue that Soylent Green manifests an ‘environmental nostalgia’ where an ‘ecological memory’ connects viewers with environmental issues.[21] Ingram argues, however, that the film depoliticises its environmental message by blaming a universally corrupt ‘human nature’, thus absolving anyone or anything (including economic theories) from responsibility. He contends that the ecological crisis presented in Soylent Green is so total that there is ‘little space for the formation of a convincing politics of resistance’.[22]

The attitude towards science and technology in 1970s science fiction films remains ambiguous. While in most science fiction films of the era it is presented as the cause of environmental problems, in Silent Running it is overtly presented as the solution, while in The Omega Man the vestiges of humanity are seen rebuilding ‘civilisation’ via the use of science and technology, albeit in a more rural setting.

In the following two decades there were only three evidently environmentally themed popular science fiction films: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986); Jurassic Park (1993); and, Waterworld (1995). These films, which dealt with species extinction, genetic engineering and climate change respectively, ended with utopian themes relating to the ability of humans (read white men) to conquer whatever obstacles confronted them. They generally reflected an era when popular science fiction films celebrated the future as a place of adventure and wonder to be explored and conquered by humans. The Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back to the Future franchises championed adventure and courage. When unease appeared in science fiction films in this period it ordinarily manifested as anxieties about cyborg/artificial intelligence as seen in Blade Runner(1982), Tron (1982), Terminator (1984), and Robocop (1987).

In contrast to the 1980s and 1990s, the 2000s have so far featured an abundance of popular science fiction films which have overt environmental themes and content. A less than exhaustive list includes; 28 Days Later (2002), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Children of Men (2006), I am Legend (2007), Sunshine (2007), 28 Weeks Later (2007), Wall-E (2008), The Happening (2008), Avatar (2009), 2012 (2009), Melancholia (2011), Take Shelter (2011), 40 Days and Nights (2012), The Road (2012), Snowpiercer (2013), World War Z (2013), After Earth (2013), The Colony (2013), Interstellar (2014), Godzilla (2014), Automata (2014), The Last Days (2014), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), and Tomorrowland (2015). That so many science fiction films since the turn of the millennium feature narratives with implicit references to the environment is undoubtedly related to the growing awareness of, and increasing unease at, the likely impacts of climate change.[23] The remainder of this piece will examine how this concern is realised and understood in three recent popular science fiction films.

Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar has the ‘honour’ of being the most commercially successful film of all time, grossing nearly $2.8 billion in ticket sales.[24] In short, the plot revolves around the insertion of a human military marine (Jack Skully via an avatar) into the indigenous ‘Na’vi’ population of a fictional planet called Pandora. His purpose is to gain access to energy resources (unobtainium) controlled by the ‘Na’vi’ which are desperately needed on an energy-starved planet earth. However, on seeing how the ‘Na’vi’ live in harmony and peace with their natural environment, Skully joins the ‘Na’vi’ in fighting off his previous employers and thus ensures the environmental integrity of Pandora. Avatar has been popularly described as ‘radical environmental propaganda’[25]; its environmental themes as ‘profoundly pertinent’[26] or a ‘love letter to … the glory of mother nature’[27]. Unsurprisingly, the film sits in numerous popular top-ten environmentally themed film lists[28]. Cameron must be delighted by this as he openly declared before the film’s release that it was his intention to use Avatar as a platform to spread the message that humans must stop damaging the environment.[29] But just how convincing is the film’s environmental message from an ecocritical perspective?

Robert Hyland argues that despite its alleged environmental credentials, the film, in both its formal and narrative levels, is ‘about mastery – the mastery of technology, and  mastery of nature’.[30] He argues that the film is ideologically neo-colonialist in that it reaffirms the mastery of the white male over women, nature (including beasts), land, and language. During the film Skully is seen winning the affection of the most powerful female character, putting non-human animals at the service of humans by conquering their implied independence, before rising to claim mastery over the entire Na’vi people. Hyland compares Skully to Christ, in that he brings salvation to the Na’vi.[31]

Renee Lertzman observes that Avatar presents a idealised version of nature before ‘the Fall’, reflecting a longing to return to the ‘Garden of Eden’, rather than accepting nature in all its complex and contradictory manifestations on earth. She contends that it presents a narrative that suggests that ‘our planet [is] too broken’ with the only solution being to leave our world and drift among the trees and exotic species of another.[32] Chris Klassen extends this analysis by arguing that not only does Avatar present an ‘improved’ version of nature, but one that is ‘improved’ by human technology via the presentation of the technological sublime via the medium of new 3D and Computer Generated Images (CGI) technologies.[33] Matthew Holtmeier has drawn attention to what he describes as ‘Post-Pandoran Depression’ (popularly known as ‘Avatar Blues’) whereby fans constantly return to the version of nature presented in the film rather than face the reality of nature as it is on earth right now.[34] Klassen argues that this results in viewers being ‘unable to “see” their own kinship and interconnection with their own physical world’.[35]

Todd McGowan is critical of the final fight scene between Skully and the human representative of the mining company looking to mine unobtainium. By individualising the fight between the two, McGowan contends that this has the effect of depoliticising and decontextualising the wider socioeconomic collective struggle between Skully, the Na’vi, and those who seek to exploit Pandora. No explicit link is therefore made between environmental destruction and wider corporate interests.[36]

Avatar does not hold up well to an ecocritical reading. Rather than offer an effective and sustained reflection on the current environmental crisis it does little more than reinscribe a pre-existing conservative narrative. The Hollywood staple of the mastery of the white male over people and nature (including non-humans and land) is reconfirmed, as the frontier of Pandora is ‘broken’ to establish a new utopia. A disturbing addition, however, is the encoded message that to find ‘Eden’ or ‘real nature’ we need to leave earth behind. This kind of thinking leads to the alarming spectre of nihilism in regard to the environmental problems we currently face.

The Road

In contrast to the utopia found away from earth in Avatar, The Road, closely based on a 2006 novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, presents a post-apocalyptic vision of earth after some kind of mass extinction event. While neither the novel or the film offer a direct explanation for why the earth has been devastated, the former seems to suggest that it is the result of nuclear war.[37] The film follows a father and his young son in a post-apocalyptic landscape as they struggle to find the sea which the father hopes will offer some kind of salvation, although it is not clear why this may be so. The landscape they traverse is strewn with destroyed, but familiar objects, such as cars and houses, and all signs of animal or plant life have been destroyed – it is more wastescape than landscape.[38]

The Road has been described as bringing ‘ecological disasters into the here and now’ because of its contemporary setting which acts as a warning for us to take action on environmental issues now.[39] Journalist and environmental activist George Monbiot described the novel as the most important environmental book ever written.[40] The director of The Road, John Hillcoat, explicitly links its production to climate change  which he claims ‘we are actually experiencing now’.[41]

An ecocritical reading of the film results in ambiguity in terms of what the film  says about the environment. The utterly bleak landscape strewn with the waste of consumer society, and the pathetic sight of the father and son pushing a shopping trolley full of their meagre belongings through this landscape, can be read as a clear critique of consumption.[42] A pivotal scene within the film where the father and son share a can of Coco-Cola scavenged from an old vending machine can be read as a marker of the end of the all-American dream, a past that is now long-gone. But as Tanner Mirrlees states, the joy with which the can of Coco-Cola is consumed ‘seems to temporarily transport these destitute characters backwards in time, from their post-capitalist dystopia to a seemingly happier consumer moment’.[43] A similar scene plays out in The Book of Eli where a bottle of shampoo is scavenged from the wastelands and fawned over in much the same way as the can of Coca-Cola. Here these films seem to be saying that if we want to save what we have now, that is the consumerist society symbolized by the Coca-Cola and shampoo, we need to act now. This despite the fact that it is this consumerist society that has done much to create the crisis in the first place.

Perhaps the most worrying feature of The Road in terms of its environmental meaning relates to its absolute nihilism. As Mark Fisher points out, the film is about death, the death of nature and the slow death of the earth which moves towards ‘total entropy and inertia’.[44] It is not so much a film about the future, but a film about the end, there is no return to any kind of life that seems worth living.[45] The nihilism is expressed not only in the death of nature, but also in the behaviour of the vast majority of the humans that remain alive. They are portrayed as having been reduced to utter barbarism, killing and feeding on human flesh without mercy. There is no effort to show communities pulling together founded on kindness, compassion and solidarity.[46] As Fisher observes, ‘as contemporary capitalism tries to do, The Road forecloses the possibility of collectivity’.[47] The nihilism seems to suggest to contemporary audiences that there is nothing we can do to avoid this fate when faced with climate change and the slow violence of environmental problems.

Interstellar

The basic premise of Interstellar is that a ‘blight’ has decimated food production and humans are in desperate need of some sort of salvation before dying out completely. It is not clear what the ‘blight’ is, but it appears to act as a metaphor for climate change. The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, has claimed that the film is not directly about climate change, but has also stated that it is about agricultural collapse leading to the end of the world and has argued that it is about things that worry him, like they worry ‘everyone else’.[48] From this inference it seems fair to assume that the film is a form of metaphor for climate change, even if studio executives may have prevented Nolan from saying so.[49]

Interstellar clearly states that the salvation that humans seek is not to be found on earth. Tom Cooper, the film’s central character, seeks life elsewhere via the colonization of another planet. Early on in the film, Cooper states, ‘we used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt’. At another point in the film he states that ‘we are meant to be explorers, not caretakers’. Noah Gittell states the environmental message of the film seems to be that we can either leave earth, or stay and die.[50] Michael Syoboda argues that Cooper’s statements could be read as a critique of the diminution of spending on the US space programme, while Patricia Vieira draws attention to the visualisation of the space station that Copper eventually ends up on ‘where humans have minutely reproduced in this substitute setting their living conditions on earth: the exact same sprawling suburbs, large monoculture plantations, and, we might guess, a wasteful lifestyle’.[51] Vieira also draws attention to the fact that in the film an ‘ark’ which will be used to repopulate another planet only appears to carry fertilised eggs from humans ‘condemning all life on earth to its sad, deadly fate, our explorers consider humans to be the only inhabitants of the blue planet worth saving’.[52] Just like Avatar, Interstellar abandons earth and finds a utopia elsewhere, reducing the viewer to another state of nihilism when it comes to dealing with problems as they are on earth.

Ellen Moore argues that popular Hollywood films which adopt strong environmental themes are characterized by their silences in four key areas: how they define environmental problems; what the consequences are; who is responsible for them; and what potential solutions exist to mitigate them.[53] Of these four, the last two are perhaps of most importance in regard to how we manage climate change. If we are to avoid its worst effects, at the very least we need to understand who and what is responsible for climate change and what to do about it.

None of the science fiction films assessed here offer any indication of who or what is to blame for the environmental problems that they allude to. While Avatar appears to demonise a part of the extractive industry it does so in an entirely abstracted way, making no connection at all between the wider extractive industry and the mass consumption that it fuels. The Road seems to indicate that a nuclear war has taken place, but there is no exploration of causation or blame. The ‘blight’ that is used as a metaphor for climate change in Interstellar simply exists without any explanation, it is simply taken as a given reality. These three films are in no way unique in this regard.[54] Both Snowpiercer and The Colony, which deal with the disastrous application of geoengineering to try and solve climate change, fail to explain why geoengineering was needed in the first place. It is also clear that none of the three science fiction films examined offer any solutions to climate change. Avatar and Interstellar resort to fantastical and ludicrous ideas of leaving earth for a new ‘cleaner’ planet, while The Road would seem to indicate that there is no solution other to wonder in a ghastly post-apocalyptic landscape, so why bother trying to look for one. The fatalism of The Road can also be read in Children of Men, for how will it be possible for human life to continue with only one child in existence?

Bradley Fest argues that many popular films of the current era ’embrace pornographic orgies of destruction’ in a genre which he defines as the ‘capitalist megadisaster film’.[55] He draws specific attention to 27 such films including The Avengers (2012), Battleship (2012), Pacific Rim (2013), White House Down (2013), Aftermath (2014), Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Of these 27 films, only one, Snowpiercer, can be said to have a direct environmental narrative.[56] Fest contends that these films are ‘responses to the despair of contemporaneity’ which he characterises as being premised on ‘observable climate change’ and ‘global risk’. From this he argues that these films, in visualising the end of the world, demonstrate the inability of Hollywood to imagine any future outside of a capitalist one, one that seems intent on destroying itself.[57] This apparent inability to image a different future from a capitalist one is perfectly illustrated in Avatar, The Road, and Intersellar. The choice is these films is to live in a world where savage primitive accumulation rules, or put your faith in a hyper-capitalist technological solution which will enable us to leave a dying planet.

Fest describes this ‘foreclosure of the imagination’ as the ‘audacious despair at the heart of contemporaneity’.[58] This inability to imagine a different future, a different way of ‘being’ in the world, is exactly what Sontag referenced in 1965 when she noted that the science fiction films of the 1950s and early 1960s were a means by which to ‘normalise what is psychologically unbearable, thereby inuring us to it’.[59] These films were not about projecting a different future, one without nuclear weapons and radiation, but about accepting one where these terrifying things existed. An ecocritical reading of most popular modern science fiction films concurs with Sontag’s diagnosis. These films either directly or indirectly accept the reality of climate change but in a deeply nihilistic way that offers us no way out of its consequences. But even more than that, and without irony and following capitalism’s inexorable logic, they actually turn the current and coming crisis into a capitalist enterprise. Capitalism’s dystopic effects have become ‘consumable entertainment’.[60] The genre is more cli-cash than cli-fi.

[1] S. Sontag, ‘The Imagination of Disaster’, in S. Redmond (ed.), Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader, (New York: Wallflower Press), p. 47.

[2] Sontag, pp. 42 & 44.

[3] Sontag, pp. 42 & 47.

[4] C. Froust & W. O’Shannon Murphy, ‘Revealing and Reframing Apocalyptic Tragedy in Global Warming Discourse’, Environmental Communication, 3, 2, 2009, p. 151.

[5] This is not to assume that the threat of nuclear war has disappeared.

[6] In short, I take eco-critical or ecocriticism to represent the study of the relationship between literature (including film) and the physical world.

[7] The Oxford English dictionary defines science fiction as ‘fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances, major social or environmental changes, etc.’ Concise Oxford Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press), 1998.

[8] See, P. Gonder, ‘Like a Monstrous Jigsaw Puzzle: Genetics and Race in Horror Films of the 1950s’, The Velvet Light Trap, 52, 2003, & M. Tarratt, ‘Monsters from the ID’ in B. Grant, Film Genre Reader IV, (Austin: University of Texas Press), 2012.

[9] D. Ingram, Green Screen: Environmentalism and Hollywood Cinema, (Exeter: University of Exeter Press), 2004, p. 167.

[10] P. Brereton, Hollywood Utopia: Ecology in Contemporary American Cinema, (Bristol: Intellect Books), 2005, p. 142.

[11] W. Tsutsui, ‘Looking Straight at Them! Understanding The Big Bug Movies of the 1950s’, Environmental History, 12, 2007. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane  is a colourless, crystalline, tasteless and almost odourless organochloride known for its insecticidal properties which was banned in the United States in 1972.

[12] J. Bellin, ‘Us or Them!: Silent Spring and the “Big Bug” Films of the 1950s’, Extrapolation, 50, 1, 2009.

[13] Sontag, p. 43.

[14] C. Podeschi, ‘The Nature of Future Myths: Environmental Discourse in Science Fiction Film, 1950 – 1999’, Sociological Spectrum, 22, 2002, p. 266. As Tsutsui remarks, ‘1950s science fiction demonized science while simultaneously exalting it’. Tsutsui, p. 242. In The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms (1953) a nuclear test awakens a dinosaur which is then destroyed by a nuclear weapon.

[15] C. Soles, ‘”And No Birds Sing”: Discourses of Environmental Apocalypse in The Birds and Night of the Living Dead‘, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, 12, 3, 2014.

[16] Soles, p. 532.

[17] P. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, (New York: Ballentine Books), 1968, D. Meadows (et al.), Limits to Growth: A Report of the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind, (London: Pan Books), 1972.

[18] R. Murray & J. Heumann, Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge, (Albany: State University of New York Press), 2009, p. 91. Brereton (2005) characterises as a period of ‘eco-paranoia’ , p. 139.

[19] The obvious exceptions to this being Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Mad Max (1979).

[20] L. Geraghty, American Science Fiction Film and Television, (Oxford: Berg), 2009, pp. 52 – 56.

[21] Murray & Heumann, p. 96.

[22] Ingram, p. 155.

[23] M. Eskjaer, ‘The Climate Catastrophe as Blockbuster’, Akademisk, 7, 2013. Adrian Ivakhiv notes, ‘Even a casual follower of environmental news is aware that humanity today is collectively taxing the planet in ways that are unprecedented … a background awareness of present or future ecological calamities is arguably one of the persistent and widely shared psychological facts of our time’, A. Ivakhiv, ‘Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature, (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press), 2013, p. 256.

[24] http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/.

[25] K. Burkart, ‘Is Avatar Radical Environmental Propaganda?’, Mother Nature Network, http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/is-avatar-radical-environmental-propaganda.

[26] H. Hart, ‘Review: Powerful Avatar Stuns the Eye, Seduces the Heart’, Wired.com, 17 Dec. 2009, http://www.wired.com/2009/12/avatar-review/.

[27] C. Hewitt, ‘Avatar – James Cameron’s back with another big blue epic…’, Empire, http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=133552.

[28] For example, http://www.ecohustler.co.uk/2013/10/25/top-10-eco-films-time/ or, http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/top-10-environmental-films-of-all-time or, http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/ten-films-to-inspire-your-inner-environmental-superhero.

[29] ‘James Cameron says Avatar a message to stop damaging environment’, The Telegraph, 11 Dec. 2009, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/6782339/James-Cameron-says-Avatar-a-message-to-stop-damaging-environment.html.

[30] R. Hyland, ‘Going Na’vi: Mastery in Avatar’, Cineaction, 82/83, 2011, p. 12.

[31] Hyland, pp. 14 – 16.

[32] R. Lertzman, ‘Desire, Longing and the Return to the Garden: Reflections on Avatar‘, Ecopsychology, March 2010, pp. 41 – 42.

[33] C.Klassen, ‘Avatar, Dark Green Religion, and the Technological Construction of Nature’, Cultural Studies Review, 18, 2, 2012, pp. 75 – 79.

[34] M. Holtmeier, ‘Post-Pandoran Depression or Na’vi Sympathy: Avatar, Affect and Audience Reception’, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 4, 4, 2010, pp. 415 – 416.

[35] Klassen, p. 84.

[36] T. McGowan, ‘Maternity Divided: Avatar and the Enjoyment of Nature, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, (no date), http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc52.2010/mcGowanAvatar/.

[37] The novel contains the following passage: ‘The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions.’ C. McCarthy, The Road, (London: Picador), 2006, p. 55.

[38] E. dell’Agnese, ‘Post-Apocalypse Now: Landscape and Environmental Values in The Road and The Walking Dead‘, Geographia Polonica, 87, 3, 2014, p. 334.

[39] E. Gillespie, ‘The Road Brings Fictional Ecology Disasters into the Here and Now’, The Guardian, 8 Jan. 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2010/jan/08/the-road-eco-disaster-films.

[40] G. Monbiot, ‘Civilisation ends with a shutdown of human concern. Are we there already?’, The Guardian, 30 July 2007, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/oct/30/comment.books.

[41] ‘John Hillcoat The Road Interview’, (no date), http://www.femail.com.au/john-hillcoat-the-road-interview.htm.

[42] dell’Agnese, p. 334.

[43] T. Mirrlees, ‘Hollywood’s Uncritical Dystopias’, Cineaction, 95, 1, 2015, p. 13. The can of Coco-Cola can also be seen as a cynical product placement.

[44] M. Fisher, ‘The Lonely Road’, Film Quarterly, Spring 2010, p. 14

[45] T. McSweeny, ‘”Each Night is Darker – Beyond Darkness”: The Environmental and Spiritual Apocalypse of The Road (2009)’, Journal of Film and Video, 65, 4, 2013, p. 45. McSweeny describes the film as ‘unremittingly dark’, p. 43.

[46] Mirrlees, p. 13.

[47] Fisher, p. 16.

[48] ‘Interview: Christopher Nolan talks new dimensions of ‘Interstellar’’, http://www.directconversations.com, 6 Nov.  2014,  http://directconversations.com/2014/11/06/interview-christopher-nolan-talks-new-dimensions-interstellar/ & P. Sina-roy, ‘A Minute with: Christopher Nolan and his Interstellar Challenge’, http://www.reuters.com, 7 Nov. 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/07/us-film-christophernolan-idUSKBN0IR18320141107.

[49] The film makes very direct links between 1930s Dust Bowl America and the fictional world fighting the effects of the ‘Blight’.

[50] N. Gittell, ‘Interstellar: Good Space Film, Bad Climate-Change Parable’, http://www.theatlantic.com, 15 Nov. 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/why-interstellar-ignores-climate-change/382788/.

[51] M. Syoboda, ‘(What) Do We Learn from Cli-Fi Films? Hollywood Still Stuck in the Holocene’, http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org, 19 Nov. 2014, http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2014/11/what-do-we-learn-from-cli-fi-films-hollywood-still-stuck-in-holocene/. P. Vieira, ‘Interstellar and the Environmental Crisis’, http://www.telospress.com, 1 Dec. 2014, http://www.telospress.com/interstellar-and-the-environmental-crisis/.

[52] Vieira (no page number).

[53] E. Moore, ‘Green Screen or Smokescreen? Hollywood’s Messages about Nature and the Environment’, Environmental Communication, March 2015, p. 1.

[54] The same can be said of other recent science fiction films with environmental themes, such as The Happening and Children of Men.

[55] B. Fest, ‘”Eternal Shiny and Chrome”: The Fabulous Capitalist Megadisasters of the 2010s’, The Hyperarchival Parallax, 19 June 2015, p. 2, https://bradfest.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/eternal-shiny-and-chrome-the-fabulous-capitalist-megadisasters-of-the-2010s/.

[56] He lists 27 such films between 2012 – 2015.

[57] Fest, pp. 2 – 13.

[58] Fest, pp. 13 & 16.

[59] Sontag, p. 47.

[60] Mirrlees, p.15.

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