Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Category: Dirt! The Movie

Dirt! The Movie Response

I really wish this film reached its potential, and then I would feel as though I could give a somewhat decent response; however, as I believe the methodology of education proves the most vital resource in the environmental movement, I cannot overlook the films blatant shortcomings. Of course, many of the issues plaguing our soil today remain a little known fact to the public, which could result in the construction of such a haphazard compilation of perspectives, but, as a documentary, a natural expectation of some cohesive message remains unsatisfied. Putting together a plethora of issues like monoculture, artificial fertilizer, soil erosion, desertification, etc. and pointing to the obvious correlation that all rely on the natural resource of dirt proves reminiscent of when I first learned to write and ask “so what?” at the end of my evidence (a sentiment I’m sure many of you can relate as a common tool in education today). The viewer leaves this film with half the picture, as these issues never become fully linked in the manner that they could, instead, only manifesting in a spiritual and emotional relationship. That is not to say, however, that such an approach is not beneficial, but, rather, that the inclusion of a more scientific and economic approach to dirt could have tied this film to back to reality and our contemporary society.

Said haphazard construction makes determining the intended audience of this film rather difficult; on the one hand, we have child-friendly animations, and, on the other hand, imagery of death and suicide in India in some of the most economically depressing circumstances. While multiple perspectives proves a useful tool in the examination of our own arguments, too many from too many disciplines dilutes focus. The viewer does not see simply a multitude of issues, but a multitude of demeanors ranging from depressed to hopeful that results in a confused and unsure audience. How am I supposed to feel at the end of this film? Even now, I am unsure of how to answer that question. Is the sole purpose of the film to simply emphasize dirt as the natural resource of the natural environment? If so, I’m not sure such a film was in need. I believe we all think of dirt this way, so drawing attention to the issues in a cohesive manner that points toward an attempt or drive to create a solution proves far more important than expressing such. The film misses an opportunity to deliver some very pertinent information from some very interesting and unconventional voices in an otherwise unprecedented manner and issue that would have made this a powerful piece.

It is crucial to get information out there, but we should not be in such a rush that we lose sight of our goals. This film could have benefitted from a more thorough and careful construction of evidence, as well as the inclusion of more tangible disciplines. By evading the economic discussion of dirt, the film avoids limiting the definition of dirt to a specific country, as we would have begun to think of dirt in capitalistic terms, but this becomes the films ultimate downfall. Without that drive, how can we expect the average person in the US, the country responsible for a large portion of environmental damage, to change their views when the discussion is not in his terminology?

Dirt! The Movie Film Reflection

Film Reflection

By Matt Allchin

Dirt! The Movie is a 2009 expository documentary directed by Gene Rosow and Bill Benenson. Based off the book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan, the film explores the consequences of our mistreatment of the dirt and soil of the world and our relationship with it.

Most of the film is narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis and by interviews with many people around the world. This is one of the major strengths of the film because we get different perspectives from people from different economic, social, and cultural background. It was interesting to see how different cultures interacted with dirt and why it was a necessity to their way of life. On top of that each interviewer had some sort of strong connection with dirt and the film focused a lot about how we feel about our relationship with our earth and made you appreciate all of the things dirt has done for a species.

While the animations seemed childish at times I felt as if they kept the film somewhat entertaining. Without the cartoons the whole movie would have just been footage of dirt landscapes and the interviews themselves. However, some animations were definitely weaker than others. Parts like the watercolor animation were cool to see unlike the little personified dirt cartoons parading around on screen we saw throughout.

While the film had many different interviews each one was a different topic making the film seem kind of all over the place. The filmmakers obviously tried to make this film accessible to everyone with topics ranging from the history of dirt using cartoonish animations to the dark topic of farmer suicide due to unfertile soil. The movie really generalized these issues and skipped around to different topics. One example was when they started to talk about the Dust Bowl it seemed like the documentary was going to make a big deal about our mistreatment of dirt and how that was a consequence but it barely talked about the event for five minutes.

The documentary also didn’t provide many solutions and when it did it didn’t even mention how feasible it was. The economic and political sides of the issues were not touched upon for the most part. For example, at the part where the lady had a garden on her roof and around her building in a city she talked about how great this is for dirt and the environment but we have no idea how much that would cost or how possible it even is. The film didn’t really touch on the corporation side of the issues either which I feel is an important perspective in environmental documentaries.

While the film has its weaknesses it still introduces an issue that many people don’t really think about in an accessible way. Going into this film I had no idea what they were even going to see about dirt for an hour and a half. However, after my viewing I am much more aware of the issues going on in our soil. The overall message of how we connect ourselves with dirt and our natural world was received Because of this the documentary did its job in educating me even if it didn’t necessarily motivate me.

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