Blue Gold World Water Wars Documentary Review Essays

Alternately political and apolitical, pessimistic and optimistic — but rarely, if ever, cinematic — Sam Bozzo’s “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” works best as a smallscreen educational docu that alerts its audience to the corporate raiding of dangerously diminishing H2O supplies worldwide. Book-based film combines footage, including re-enactments, from around the globe, adding illustrative animation in a bid to hydrate its rather parched narrative. If the modestly budgeted docu introduces fest and TV auds to the scarcity and increased privatization of Earth’s life source (without encouraging those auds to invest in water stocks), it’ll be a success.

Narrated intensely by Malcolm McDowell, pic opens with a sepia-toned scene, set in 1906, of a gold-seeking Mexican man stumbling toward California in his seventh day without agua — this to illustrate that the basic human need for water ought to trump nationality and politics.

Harder-hitting, but relegated to the final reel, is the allegation that Jenna Bush and others in her family have snapped up thousands of acres in Paraguay, believing the country will become the “Middle East of water,” as one talking head puts it.

Tonally erratic editing uses the Bolivian popular uprising against water-hoarding multinational Bechtel and the World Bank twice — once to lend despair (innocent people were killed), and secondly for climactic uplift (the people were ultimately victorious).

More smoothly, the film depicts citizen activism against Nestle’s water-pumping in the American Midwest, which has produced alarmingly mixed results. Footage appearing over the end-credit crawl hails the efforts of a third grade anti-Ice Mountain crusader in Michigan.

Tech credits are suitable for smallscreen play.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars


Production: A Purple Turtle Films production. (International sales: Purple Turtle, Irvine, Calif.) Produced by Sam Bozzo. Executive producers, Mark Achbar, Si Litvinoff. Directed, written, edited by Sam Bozzo, based on the book "Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water" by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, DV), Bozzo; music, Hannes Bertolini, Thomas Aichinger; costume designer, Peiju Liao; sound, Brett Hinton; visual effects, Dan Park. Reviewed on DVD at Vancouver Film Festival (The Ark: Elements & Animals), Oct. 3, 2008. Running time: 90 MIN. Narrator: Malcolm McDowell.

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The water crisis. Unfortunately, talking about the water crisis isn't just muttering about a gloom and doom prediction of what could happen if we don't straighten up and fly right. It is happening, and it is nearly upon us. If you need evidence, there is plenty of it in a new documentary highlighting the science, politics, and future of water on planet Earth entitled "Blue Gold: World Water Wars."We love to keep things light-hearted here on TreeHugger - there's enough bummer news coming at you throughout your day, so it's nice to get some positive green news and information to brighten your outlook. But we have to get pretty serious here for just a second.

Blue Gold documents the environmental issues behind why we are rapidly losing our fresh water supplies, the politics behind water ownership and distribution that are worsening the situation, and the scenarios of what will happen as water becomes increasingly scarce.

The documentary looks at how we are using up water faster than it can be replenished through natural systems – we are mining as much as 15 times more groundwater than is being replenished, at the rate of 30 billion gallons a day. We're also polluting it beyond use, destroying the wetlands that are natural filters, and blocking the rivers that carry nutrients that keep the water healthy and lands fertile.

Basically, we're desertifying the planet, and helping to send all our fresh water straight to the ocean via soil erosion, building more and more hardscaps, and cutting down forests.

Water expert Dr. Michel Kravcik states in the film that we're only about 50 years from a collapse in the planet's water systems.

It also analyses the solutions we've come up with so far, from shipping water to desalination, and the side effects that negate the benefits. It shows that anything short of serious conservation will do little good.

Agriculture, building, product production, soft drinks, pollution... we have to completely overhaul the way we use water if we want to avoid serious wars over this precious resource in the near future. The countries that have it will gain significant power, the countries that don't will have to fight for it.

Or, we fight for it now, through activism, conservation, and coming up with technologies that help us conserve and purify the water we have, so that we can avoid world-wide water wars. Ultimately the world's water supply is at risk of disappearing, and rich or poor, no one can't escape it. Get informed and inspired – watch this film.

More on the Water Crisis
California's Real Sustainability Problem: Not Budgets, Water Resources Management
Australia's Drought Featured as an Interactive Media Project
Food and Water Production Will Be Next for Green Tech Innovations
Clean Tech Forum 2009: Experts Discuss the Impending Water Crisis (Video)
How to Go Green: Water
Focus on Focus Earth: World Water Forum

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