CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.
DVD Review: ‘Collapse’ Paints Unsettling Portrait of Approaching Doom
CHICAGO – Doomsday prophecies are a dime a dozen at the movies these days. We’ve become all too complacent in staring at visions of our planet’s fragility, and the preventable threats to our survival. Most apocalyptic thrillers are pitched at the level of B-movie fantasies that make credible issues like global warming seem as frighteningly real as Godzilla.
That’s why Chris Smith’s documentary, “Collapse,” is the perfect film at the perfect time. It awakens viewers from their impassive daze with a lightning bolt of clarity. There’s no flashy special effects or distracting camerawork. Just a man in a room speaking about the demon that haunts him: his conscience. The man, Michael Ruppert, spent thirty years as an investigative journalist. He trained himself to scan the media and connect the dots. He believes that the dots he’s connected have outlined nothing less than the imminent collapse of human industrial civilization.
DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0
Of course, such a claim has led pundits to label Ruppert as a looney conspiracy theorist. His research, compiled into novels such as “A Presidential Energy Policy,” have been largely ignored. But “Collapse” proves that Ruppert isn’t some boozy prophet raving on the street corner. He’s a remarkably well-informed individual who spent a great deal of his life resisting suspicions about governmental corruption, while opting to believe in the idealism of the American dream. Yet in the 80s, he reached a point of no return after discovering the CIA’s secret involvement in drug smuggling, which may have led to the death of a marine who knew too much. Ruppert is also a man who knows too much, more than he ever cared to know, and his knowledge continues to haunt him every day. But “Collapse” ultimately proves that ignorance is anything but bliss, and challenges viewers to confront their fears by imagining the unimaginable.
Michael Ruppert presents his frightening predictions for the future in Chris Smith’s documentary Collapse.
Photo credit: MPI Home Video
Ruppert’s recent breakthrough was his prediction of the current financial crisis years before it first emerged. But that’s catnip compared to his vision of mankind’s uncertain future on planet Earth. He says that the day will come when “infinite growth collides with finite energy,” specifically when oil prices at the gas pump spike to a colossal number that few people will be able to afford. This will lead to a “transition phase” where self-sufficiency will be crucial, particularly in the matter of finding food. Ruppert is a riveting speaker, and his multifaceted prognostications are startlingly persuasive. He’s well served by director Smith, who’s best known for “American Movie,” a slice of reality so hilarious and poignant that it could easily have been dreamed up by Christopher Guest. Here, Smith proves that he’s definitely learned a thing or two from Errol Morris, though he doesn’t merely emulate the master’s subdued tone and impeccable editing. Instead of making the film a pure cautionary piece, he focuses his lens on the lonely, tormented, fiercely passionate Ruppert, and creates a character portrait as unforgettable as anything made by Morris. Any self-respecting citizen with a hunger for knowledge and debate will find “Collapse” not only powerful, but absolutely essential. It may be one of the most important films you’ll ever see.
Collapse was released on DVD on June 15th, 2010.
Photo credit: MPI Home Video
“Collapse” is presented in its 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is accompanied by English and Spanish subtitles. Though the disc’s fifteen minutes of deleted scenes mainly consist of trailer-ready sound-bites, they also include several insights that are as compelling as anything in the completed film. Ruppert expands on his believes about citizens’ increasing mistrust of authority, and how mankind’s role on the planet is an impermanent one. He also tells a memorable parable about a scorpion and a turtle that he says accurately represents the relationship between Wall Street and the U.S. government. A botched prediction of Ruppert’s was his assumption that there would be a draft for the current war, though it certainly seemed like there would be in 2004. Glimmers of hope caress Ruppert’s face when he endorses such things as composting toilets and the legalization of marijuana. He also praises President Obama for planting an organic garden at the White House, thus “flipping the bird” at Monsanto.
A 13-minute featurette updates viewers about Ruppert’s observations and predictions since the film’s theatrical release. He reminisces about his epiphany in the film where he realized the inherent worthlessness of America’s modern government. To him, political parties are little more than “artificial constructs designed to polarize.” His advice to today’s college students: only take out a loan if you’re learning a trade or skill, like carpentry (that skill will come in handy for ark-building). Though Ruppert has separated himself from the 9/11 controversy, he still stands by his book “Crossing the Rubicon,” which argued that Dick Cheney should be tried for murder. He also throws in a plug for his book “Confronting Collapse,” by saying that it “contains solutions” to many of the problems acknowledged in the film. Perhaps the most disquieting thing on the disc is Ruppert’s prediction for when the dreaded oil spike will occur. His estimation? Summer 2010.