Make no mistake about it: large and powerful forces are out there destroying the planet and all its resources in the name of progress and financial success. But as the enlightening and inspiring book The Next Eco-Warriors points out, there is also a committed and diverse community of young people dedicated to saving the planet while dealing with the daunting problems of energy use, overconsumption, the disappearance of the rainforests, the pollution of air and water, and other challenges. Emily Hunter, daughter of Greenpeace co-founders Robert and Bobby Hunter, is the editor of this paperback which contains essays by 22 eco-warriors who are doing what they can to turn things around. She writes:
"I believe it is appropriate to think of it as a war. Climate change alone is probably the greatest challenge humans have ever faced throughout our entire existence. The challenge is so great because the battle is not with external enemies but a war within ourselves. It is a war where we must stop ourselves in time to survive ourselves, with the planet as we know it hanging in the balance."
This is a view with which film director Kelly Reichardt seems to agree. With the addition of Night Moves, she has directed four films that vividly illustrate her keen attention to character development, the spiritual ways in which our choices have consequences beyond our control, and the formidable challenges faced by all those who strike out on their own to transform themselves or to change the world. We've reviewed these top-drawer movies: Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, and Meek's Cutoff.
Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) is a very quiet and intense young man who is deeply in love with the Earth. He lives and works on an Oregon agricultural commune. Even in the smallest happenings, he is a nurturing presence: while walking in the woods, he puts a bird nest that has fallen to the ground back in a tree; when he sees a dead deer on the highway, he stops and pulls the body off the road. He has teamed up with Dena (Dakota Fanning), a rich girl who wants to make her small contribution to work that will help save the planet. They have come up with the idea to blow upof a local hydroelectric dam. Revealing his anger, Josh hopes this drastic action will speak to all those who don't care about the loss of salmon "just so you can run your fucking iPod every second of your life."
Using Dena's money, they purchase a boat to use in the mission and then link up with Hamon (Peter Sarsgaard), another environmental activist who as a former Marine is an expert in explosives. The three of them are ardent in their commitment to being eco-warriors but they lack trust in each other. Hamon wonders whether Dena will be able to handle her role of purchasing 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, and she becomes very uneasy when the ex-Marine admits to having served some time in prison.
In an interview about Night Moves, director Kelly Reichardt says: "I think it's a character film about these political people." She calls it "a thriller with a small t." The three activists' righteous indignation is very understandable given the destruction and desolation of the Earth by corporations and by all those who are convinced that human beings have the right to control the natural world.
But there is a shadow side to their activism. Given their passion and anger, it is only a matter of time before they, like those they oppose, begin to believe that collateral damage is just something that comes with the territory; it can't be avoided if they are to truly change the world. Night Moves charts the dark places in the hearts of idealists who become zealots.