How to Change the World
Vancouver in the 1970s: a hotbed for hippy movements, conscientious objectors and Americans fleeing the Vietnam draft. Enter President Nixon, who has just okayed nuclear testing off the coast of Alaska, sparking off even more nuclear protests – nationwide and worldwide. One brave group of friends, however, take their protest further, sailing a rinky-dink old fishing boat – named the Greenpeace – out to Amchitka in an attempt to stop the test. Ultimately, they will fail and the test will go ahead. But, of that failure, a drive is born to create an environmental movement with a similar magnitude to the civil rights and feminist movements.
It is at this point that the group’s reluctant leader, Robert Hunter, decides on their next campaign: saving whales.
Chronicling the birth of the pioneers in environmental activism, Greenpeace, How to Change the World (aptly subtitled The Revolution Will Not Be Organised) is nothing short of a triumph. Beautiful, unflinching and wholly inspiring, How to Change the World is told through archival footage and interviews with those involved. Director Jerry Rothwell has managed to craft a narrative that has everything: real life heroes, villains and betrayals, held together by narration from Robert Hunter’s own writings.
The occasional animations and music are excellent and well-chosen but the documentary’s use of the group’s own footage is what makes it so striking. There are more than a few breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime shots but, be warned, not all of them are pleasant. The graphic images of whale hunts and the butchering of baby seals are harrowing, offset only a little by humour, but it is effective. Like Earthlings or Blackfish, this is footage that cannot be ignored.
How to Change the World does a spectacular job of showing just how influential a small group of people can be and, while it may not make much mention of continuing issues, it is nonetheless an inspirational piece.
How to Change the World is released nationwide on 9th September 2015.
Watch the trailer for How to Change the World here: