Newsflash: It’s hot! And dry! The American West is cooking, the Colorado River is slowing, and the future of our water supply looks dangerously fragile. It’s not a pretty picture, H20-wise.
Movies have long understood that the need for water – and control over that resource – can drive a narrative, even if that idea manifests itself in different ways. As we weather this scorching summer and ponder the parched future that lies ahead, here’s a do-it-yourself film festival about water and electricity.
Chinese district: The 1974 crime thriller starring Jack Nicholson is probably best known for Robert Towne’s Oscar-winning screenplay, which became almost a paradigm for teaching the art of screenwriting, and included the memorably chilling family history of Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn Mulwray. However, all of the narrative’s film noir machinations surround Noah Cross’ efforts to develop suburban Los Angeles by securing water rights to be diverted to previously worthless arid lands. Unfortunately, the well-known final line “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown” served as a shorthand for how futile it can seem to expect powerful people to face the consequences of their actions.
Tank Girl: Long before the superhero movie boom of the 2000s, director Rachel Talalay’s 1995 feature film adapted the British comic book series of the same name, so this one isn’t remembered much. Lori Petty plays the title character, a member of a township in the Australian outback in 2033, protecting one of the few remaining independent water sources after a comet hitting the earth creates a mega-drought. Malcolm McDowell plays the villain who maintains control over most surviving humans by monopolizing control of water under one corporation. The weird story includes soldiers created by fusing human and kangaroo DNA, but now it seems even weirder that the creators had to imagine a comet hitting the earth as the cause of a catastrophic water shortage scenario.
Rank: Director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) continued their collaboration in animated form for this 2011 western brimming with weird animations, unusual character designs, and a plot centered on a drought-stricken Mojave Desert town. The pet chameleon protagonist finds himself lost in the middle of the desert, where he creates a heroic character for himself in the drought-stricken city of Dirt. As well as being uniquely styled among 21st century CGI features, it also builds its narrative around the idea of water as currency and a villain manipulating Dirt’s water supply in order to facilitate his speculation. real estate. Chinatown Noah Cross would feel right at home.
Mad Max: Fury Road: The long-awaited 2015 sequel from director George Miller madmax The franchise has rightly been praised for its dynamic chase sequences and old-school action choreography. But don’t forget that white warlord/slaver Immortan Joe obtains his power over people in his post-apocalyptic landscape by controlling the flow of water. As precious as gasoline remains in this world, it’s always a memorable moment when a crowd gathers to light a giant pipe, aware that there is no other way for them to get the water they need to survive.
Water and electricity: a California burglary: Marina Zenovich’s 2017 documentary was recently recognized when clips were featured in John Oliver’s Last week tonight episode on the water (the same episode that poked fun at Governor Spencer Cox’s “pray for rain” message). For the most part, the film is a celebration of investigative journalists like Mark Arax and advocacy groups who sift through documents, attend board meetings and lobby to find connections between shell companies and those who control water in California. There may not be much sexy about investigating utilities, but The power of water recognizes that where the very things of life are concerned, having people on the public side is crucial.
Bacura: The Brazilian writer/director team of Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles crafted this strange, violent and unpredictable 2019 somewhat Western set in a remote Brazilian village, where a wealthy mayor has created a dam upstream that virtually cuts off the water supply. local water supply, requiring the delivery of water by tank truck. The rest of what happens is better left uncovered than described, but it relies on the idea that these people are so worthless that not only can their water be taken away from them, but they barely count as people. . And unlike Chinese districtthere’s at least wish fulfillment here that someone cruel enough to handle water doesn’t have to get away with it.