In light of Burger King’s decision this week to stop purchasing from Sinar Mas, the Indonesian palm-oil company notorious for its rainforest-clearing practices, we thought it timely to recommend a documentary called Green, which has won more than 20 awards.
It’s a thoughtfully shot and edited film that shows deforestation’s devastating consequences – and our role in it. By focusing in on one orangutan named Green, filmmaker Patrick Rouxel concentrates our compassion and concern. Green is ill and injured after her lush rainforest home is flattened. She’s taken to a hospice and tended to by merciful humans. During these scenes, her wizened facial expressions are easily read, her surrender apparent.
Spliced in are sequences of how she got there. We’re shown serene wilderness panoramas teeming with animals, establishing what stands to be lost. We see the requisite splitting, booming deforestation scenes replete with roaring chainsaws and grinding tractors.
Most significantly, though, we see short, intelligent montages about consumerism: trucks in procession heaving with harvested raw materials, factories polishing up the goods we giddily buy, stores brimming with those goods. Rouxel, who often invokes hypocritical juxtaposition, manages to make viewers understand cause and effect, and their role in it, more than most other filmmakers or journalists who attempt the same.
His cinematography’s not perfect but his ability to highlight poignancy is stellar. Especially considering that not a word is spoken throughout the film’s 48 minutes.