Anywho, I found the film to be well done and interesting. I'm going to get up on my pedestal of embarrassment and say that I'd never heard of the E.L.F. before this film and for whatever reason I don't recall hearing or seeing news about the arsons in the PNW. I found the film very educating concerning the events and the group itself as well as an insightful look into the lives of some of the members.
I would encourage people to see it, not just if you're interested in the events themselves or the group or ecological movements or logging drama, but just as a good film that will get you thinking. The film was good, but the discussion and the brain movement (haha like a BM!) was great afterwards.
The fiance and I didn't really know what to expect when we entered the theatre and we had refused to look anything up before seeing the film-so we had no idea what each others' reactions would be. I found myself energized but somewhat solemn and conflicted, whereas the fiance seemed a little disappointed and stated that he had "no pity" for those convicted of E.L.F. attacks.
I can't venture to excise his opinions and views, but I'm going to try and shake out some of my thoughts from the past couple days about the film. First off, a little summary.
Dude grows up in New York, dude finds passion for nature at off-the-wall bar scene, dude moves to PNW, dude meets activists, dude lights shit on fire, group disbands, dude goes back to New York life, FBI investigates, dude gets arrested, dude struggles internally, dude makes plea-bargain, dude goes to terrorist jail for 7 years (Original charges without plea-bargain where life plus 300-some odd years).
The film covered some other members' stories, but Daniel McGowan was the films major face and voice and it followed his house arrest and legal actions nearly exclusively. Some history of ecological movements and protests was also included-it would be very difficult to encapsulate the information this film presents, just go see it!
I know that there are people on both sides of this discussion, but I found myself conflicted between pity and scorn. I don't condone the arsons that McGowan participated in, but I value the passion and guts it took to take action.
The truth is that the fight to protect nature is an underdog venture. Speaking with my fiance after the film I said, "You fight a money war with money," and I see the battle for Earth's ecology as an uphill battle against the forces of commerce. Without a capital gain (only intangible moral benefits) monetary backing for pro-nature ventures will continue to pale in the face of destructive commercial forces. Battling in court takes money, and I think that legal action might be the most valuable avenue toward success in saving Earth's irreplaceable assets.
I can empathize with the exasperation and soul-crushing frustration McGowan and his comrades must have felt when they decided to amp up their protests, but I don't think I would've been able to destroy the livelihood and well being of so many fellow people. While none of the E.L.F. attacks injured or killed, they did cause millions in damage, scared many people, and damaged many people's lives.
I was appalled at the proposed sentencing of life plus 300-some odd years but I was also captivated by the struggle McGowan faced between compromising his morals in the face of (what I felt) was insanely harsh punishment or bending his values and claiming whatever life with friends and family he would have left to him after prison. In the end he decided that avoiding life in prison was worth sacrificing his morals and many of his comrades did the same.
There was also a lovely conflict expressed about the word "terrorist." McGowan was labeled a domestic terrorist or eco-terrorist and sentenced to serve his prison term in a specialized top security institution designed for terrorists with very limited outside communication. Being a New Yorker, he and his family found it astounding that the word would be used to label someone that never threatened human life. Even though I found myself sympathizing with McGowan, in the end I surmised that E.L.F. was utilizing terror as a tool, a means to get their message out and heard. If you use terror as a tool it would lead me to think of you as a terrorist (this makes me thinks that all domestic violence perpetrators should be shipped off to terrorist prisons as well).
The film was focussed on important events and struggles in our recent history, but I found it to address much larger problems. "If a Tree Falls" wasn't just about eco-terrorism, I found that it spoke to me on a global level about human nature and conscious and the power of conviction. I empathized with figures of law enforcement as well as arsonists in this film and I find that a very valuable asset in any critical or artistic expression-it forces you to confront your own feelings and convictions and assumptions.
I appreciate the neural exercise and I recommend the film to any and all even slightly interested-even if you're just a regular Joe that enjoys true crime shows on cable TV!
Enjoy and let me know what you think.
In other news: I nearly fell on my ass trying to get to an open seat in the darkened theatre. The fiance was under the impression that the film started at 6:30 pm but while I was enjoying my calming cup of coffee outside the theatre I cast a glance at the ticket and found it began at 6 sharp! We tossed the java and I found myself nearly falling down the aisle to my seat. I think the steps were different widths or something-either way it got my heart pumping and I seriously thought I might land my ass on a hard concrete step-edge. Yazowie!
A fake nail update-after an additional attempt at removing the scourge with 100% acetone and being met with extreme failure, the fiance took me to a nail salon before our hike Sunday morning. It took an hour of alternately soaking in acetone and sanding the gel/shellac monstrosity to get the gunk off my nails. The lovely nail lady did give me a rockin massage and good riddance, because I was exhausted after having my nails raped for an hour straight. They are now sanding down and look quite damaged, but with some TLC and time they should be back to new soon. Yippee!
As for the cats: Had a funny dream that Iroh and I were on a family vacation with my folks in Mexico or South America or something. I had a big suitcase with a couple random articles of clothing and three bottles of chilled wine (one had sprung a leak) and after some fireworks and a big rainstorm we were heading to our rooms (a combo of classroom/Cub Scout lodge) and Iroh took off up the trail and made it all the way to our lodge. In the dream I thought, "good for him, I guess he knows where the food comes from."
Millie has been sneezing up a storm this morning and the fiance is concerned she might be ill. I'm suspicious that the new lavender melting wax is affecting her. I guess we'll just have to keep an eye on her!