Toronto: The buzz film 'Collapse' showcases a gripping pundit of economic doom

collapse-ruppert_lI said in my first post from Toronto that you could feel the anxiety of the economic crisis in any number of the films here. Yet even as I wrote that, I could never have guessed I’d end up seeing a movie that would  tap into those anxieties with the power and terror of Collapse. It’s one of the few true buzz films of the festival (by the time I got to it, I’d heard a dozen people talking it up), yet the movie, which is 82 minutes long, consists of nothing more than an on-camera interview with Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles police officer who became a rogue investigative reporter and author.

tiff_icon2A bluntly unassuming and rather plain-looking man in his late fifties, Ruppert sits in what looks like a brick bunker and talks about where he thinks the United States is now headed. It is not a pretty picture, but it’s not a naive one, either. Ruppert has more than a perception — he has a welter of facts, a restless and skeptical intelligence, a grasp of history that is professorial in the best sense, and an ability to slice and dice the platitudes of mainstream media. He’s like Noam Chomsky as a gripping pundit of doom. The drama of the movie, and it’s intense, is that even if you want to argue with him (and you will, since he’s predicting very bad things), you can’t dismiss what he’s saying.

He starts out with a trump card of credibility. In 2006, Ruppert predicted the economic crisis — I mean, he really saw it coming. We’re shown clips of him from that year, and there’s nothing vague or abstract about his statements. He glimpsed the whole house of cards in prophetic detail: the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the inevitable breakdown of a system built, like a gold-leaf castle in the air, on leverage. His astonishingly acute foresight seizes your attention, and so you’d better believe that you’re sitting up and listening as he starts to talk about “peak oil,” the term that’s used to describe the fact that the majority of oil reserves on the planet have, in all likelihood, already been depleted, and that the remaining supply will now perpetually be in decline. (He cites reports that the Saudis have resorted to off-shore drilling — infinitely more costly than on-shore — as evidence that they’ve begun to see the bottom of their wells.)

Okay, so what does this mean? Ruppert explains how oil is entrenched in everything we have — how it doesn’t just run our automobiles but is the basis of our plastics, our food supply, our vast energy-devouring culture. Without it, he says, society will begin to stop functioning as it now does — that is, it will decay. You may want to fight him on that point, but he’s got arguments for everything — his decimation of what he calls the myth of alternative energy is particularly provocative, and ominous — and what his statements add up to is this: The way of life that America, and much of the rest of the world, has known is now ending. The “economic crisis” isn’t just a bad patch; it’s the finally visible — and inevitable — symptom of a much greater underlying instability. And what’s coming? A society, Ruppert says, that is going to have to fundamentally re-imagine how it lives if it intends to survive. He invokes the Titanic, his prognostication teetering between dire warning and doom.

Do I believe all of this? Will you? Collapse was directed by Chris Smith, the maverick documentarian (American Movie, The Yes Men) and fiction filmmaker (The Pool), who interviewed Ruppert for 14 hours over the course of two days. Smith, working in the talking-head-as-totem spirit of Errol Morris, has done a marvelous job of editing Ruppert’s words into a cohesive and dramatic cautionary monologue, and also of standing in for the audience by asking tough and challenging questions, evincing a healthy skepticism of his own. If you wanted to pigeonhole Michael Ruppert, reducing him to a genre of contemporary human begin, then it’s obvious what you’d call him. You’d say that he’s a conspiracy theorist who has thrived within the information-age quasi-underworld of the Internet. Yet the power of Collapse is that Ruppert, with his dazzling articulation and disarmingly low-key, just-the-facts-ma’am encylopedic-associational style, never sounds like a crackpot. You may want to dispute him, but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says — right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia — takes up residence in your mind.


Comments (44 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3
  • Heidi

    I saw it and seriously went home and couldn’t sleep all night. It makes a case for the whole ‘end of the world’ kind of scenario that we could be moving towards – if not in our generation, perhaps our children’s or grandchildren’s. Sadly, people won’t radically change their lives unless everyone else is doing it – and until there is no apparent alternative. By then it could be too late. That said, I’m not going to live in fear. Stress could kill me long before any of this could become true.

    • sasa

      Hi! One question. I am from EU and am asking you where did you watch it? Any help, idea, suggestion? Thx a lot in advance!

  • Paul

    Unfortunately it is happening as we speak. Oil has peaked in 2008.

  • olive & orange

    Wow, I can’t waint for this filme to come to Europe! i hope it will become a blockbuster at the common cinemas all over the planet…

    Finally people will wake up!

  • Ed-M

    Heidi is right, hardly anybody will change until all will have to change. By then it will be too late.

    And, may olive and orange turn out to be right;… although I’m not holding my breath for that to happen in this mess called the US. Y’see, the common cinemas here are owned and run by huge corporations — like most everything else.

  • brisa

    There will not be enough energy to power economic growth necessary for repayment of the massive governmental debts needed to prop up the failed perpetual growth paradigm and fractioanal reserve banking system.

    This financial crisis is just getting underway….

  • bob

    Much background on this film can be found on the totally free websites: Dieoff.org, TheOilDrum.com, EnergyBulletin.net, and LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net. The Assoc. for the Study of Peak Oil [ASPO] and the Post Carbon Institute are just two of the major umbrella orgs.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

  • bob

    I also suggest you google Jay Hanson Thermo/Gene Collision as it is only 8 pages long. Please Google Richard Duncan Olduvai Gorge Re-Equalizing Society. Please Google Jeffrey Brown Export Land Model. There are also lots and lots of books on these ‘Peak Everything’ topics.

  • Andy

    This film blew my friends away. They damn near couldn’t function afterwards. Now if that’s not good filmmaking what is?

  • Tom D.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing this. I’ll probably drag my family with me to see it.. Mom, Dad, sister, in-laws, friends..

  • bob

    Google Greer + Catabolic Collapse. Google Dmitry Orlov. Google Matthew R. Simmons, author of ‘Twilight in the Desert’. Google Billionaire Richard Rainwater in the Rainwater Prophecy article in Fortune Magazine circa 2005. Google the SAIC Hirsch & Bezdek Report. Read the blog called TheAutomaticEarth for economic news.

    A good, but short intro-primer can be found on the Homepage of LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net, but there are now lots & lots of websites and blogs covering Peak Oil and Peak Everything.

    Please be Smarter than Yeast and DO NOT IGNORE the REALITY of what lies DIRECTLY AHEAD.

  • PonyBoy

    There’s a great book by James Howard Kunstler that examines the issues brought-up by Mr Ruppert – “The Long Emergency.” It tells of how we got to where we are, what role alternative fuels play in the future, and how things could most likely play-out in the coming decades.

    What’s particularly scary about this film and this book is that the issue we’re facing isn’t a pie-in-the-sky concept. It’s not the same as being hit by a meteor out of nowhere; it’s a geological certainty that we’ll be facing very, very soon.

    Even in the very unlikely event where mankind somehow pulls a rabbit out of a hat and business-as-usual manages to continue with minimal hiccups, no one ever says, “Damn. I shouldn’t have lived so responsibly.” On the other hand, if these civilizational changes do indeed come, you owe it to yourself and to your family to get educated and prepared.

  • eric

    Excellent advice Bob. I’ve already read most of those sites and books. Time is running out. It’s time to wake up. God help us.

  • bob

    Google the ‘Transition Town Movement’ that is preparing for the coming postPeak era. Are you growing all your food that your family requires per year?

    Most Americans take their food supply for granted yet it takes 5-10 ounces of FF-energy for every ounce you eat!

    Will your kids still want a stuffed toy huggy-animal if that animal is extinct? Scientists are talking about humans causing the next great Extinction on our ‘Little Blue Marble’.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    Think of it this way: Maine lobsters & Alaskan king crabs DO NOT MIGRATE across the North American Continent with their uplifted claws full of bananas, lemons, liquor, and chocolate into your favorite seafood restaurant!

    It takes an incredible amount of energy to grow/harvest/process food, then get it into your mouth.

    Do you know that nearly all vanilla bean plants have to be hand-pollinated because the mellipona beechei bees are so very,very few? Google Colony Collapse Disorder + honey bees, then picture your family having to hand pollinate many crops with a Q-tip for countless hours just to get a glass of Orange Juice, or some jam for your toast.

  • bob

    TheOilDrum.com [TOD]has had 45 million page views and 19.8 million unique visits since its inception.

    EnergyBulletin.net [EB] and LifeAfterTheOilCrash.net [LATOC] may have even more members, plus there are many, many other websites and blogs that are linked-in too.

    It is also incredible how many books on Peak Oil, Peak Everything, Overshoot & Collapse, Climate Change and related topics that are now available.

    The point is that Mike Ruppert is NOT some crazy person with crazy ideas, but VERY SANE and backed up by the best biologists, petro-geologists, ecologic-economists, history researchers, scientists, concerned businessmen, and many others. So for any newbies first encountering Mike Ruppert and the article commenters==> you have a LOT of WORK to do if you hope to catch up.

    I strongly advise you to get going.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

  • bob

    Let’s remember that all energies come from the Elements in the Periodic Table. When you sit at that table: Mother Nature [Laws of Physics & Chemistry] doesn’t care who you are, or what you believe, only what you do with those Elements.

    Will you burn-up the energy released by those Elements with non-necessary shopping and pointless easy-motoring creating lots of waste?

    What kind of world do You want to leave for your children as we go postPeak? Think very carefully, because the Grim Reaper is getting anxious to make you and your children pay very heavily for the wrong actions.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Page: 1 2 3
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Movies

Advertisement

Latest News

Most Commented

PopWatch | EW.com

Blog

PopWatch

The 2015 Independent Games Festival winner gives you 20 minutes to explore a dying galaxy

Comments +
For 17 years, the Independent Games Festival has served as Sundance for video games, a place for idiosyncratic, unusual games about things you’d never see in big-budget marquee games—although those games are honored from the same stage under the banner of the Game Developer’s Choice Awards.    The IGF winners and nomineess are where boundaries are pushed and notions of what constitutes a game are challenged. Much like any awards ceremony, the IGF isn’t the end-all, be-all for indie games or bold new ideas,  but it’s a pretty good place to dive in and check out what’s happening in the scene—and maybe be surprised by what’s possible in a video game.    Here’s the full list of winners, announced at last night’s ceremony: Read Full Story

Legend of Korra creator posts official Korrasami art: Their love is so real

Comments +

Korra fans, rejoice! The canonical romance between Avatar Korra and Asami continues in a piece of brand-new art from The Legend of Korra co-creator Brian Konietzko. 

Read Full Story

Comics writer Gail Simone skewers sexist critiques of women in comics

Comments +

Gail Simone (Secret Six, Red Sonja), one of the most well-known and widely respected women writing superhero comics today, has heard just about every argument there is as to why some fans think the way female characters have been treated is totally fine and doesn’t need to change at all—as well as their many gripes with female fandom. On Twitter on Thursday, she decided to demonstrate how absurd those arguments were by applying them all to male characters and fans.

Read Full Story

Neil Patrick Harris on hosting the Oscars: 'It's a beast'

Comments +

Neil Patrick Harris’ hosting stint at this year’s Oscars ceremony was met with mixed reviews. Some jokes landed (“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest—sorry, brightest”) while others fell flat (“Everybody calls her Jenny from the Block, and everybody calls him Chris Pine”).

Read Full Story

Justin Bieber's bare chest controversially covers Men's Health

Comments +

Justin Bieber’s contrition tour continues with an ab and arm-tastic cover of Men’s Health, but some are questioning whether the Biebs’ physique had some help from Photoshop. 

Read Full Story

Shadow of Mordor takes top prize at Game Developers Choice Awards

Comments +

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, last year’s The Lord of the Rings game that helped to chart new territory in open world action games, was awarded Game of the Year at last night’s Game Developers Choice Awards.

Read Full Story

How House of Cards broke new ground for video games in pop culture

Comments +

When history looks back on pop culture, House of Cards will be remembered for the quiet way it gave us the first US President who played video games on television. Sure, the show will also be remembered as some sort of game changer for how we consume serial narratives, but that’s small potatoes. Inventing new paradigms for entertainment consumption? Easy peasy. Standing in opposition to longstanding cultural stereotypes about video games? That’s some ballsy stuff. 

Read Full Story

Game of Thrones meets Taylor Swift in 'Blank Page' parody

Comments +

Every Game of Thrones fan has grieved the loss of at least one of their favorite characters. But throwing in some Taylor Swift makes it a little more bearable, judging from a new parody called “Blank Page.”

Read Full Story

Rebecca Black talks 'Friday,' four years later... on a Thursday

Comments +

Think back to the first time you watched Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video. Now think about what you and your friends said.

“It wasn’t really the kind of attention any 13-year-old girl wants,” says the now-17-year-old Black, reflecting on her viral notoriety on a recent Thursday afternoon. Nobody was more surprised at the sudden ubiquity of “Friday” than its star. “I made the song with no intention of it doing anything, and here it was doing something.”

Read Full Story

'Wolfenstein: The New Order' gets a prequel and an old timey trailer

Comments +

Wolfenstein: The New Order was one of 2014’s sleeper hits, a game that came out during a relative dry spell in big-budget shooters and surprised everyone with a great story and modern approach to one of the oldest names in shooters. Now, developer MachineGames has announced that they’re going to revisit The New Order with a new standalone prequel called Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. 

Read Full Story
Page:

More from Our Partners

From Our Partners

TV Recaps

TV Recaps | EW.com

TV Recaps

More from Our Partners

Powered by WordPress.com VIP