Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, GasLand is a disturbing exploration of a place that has been victimized by a new form of mining that has caused the water table to become a volatile mix of toxic gas and other chemicals. That place is called the United States of America.
GasLand is directed by filmmaker Josh Fox, who, according to the movie, didn't set out with a message or even a story to tell when he began "investigating" stories of water turning to fire and entire towns becoming chronically ill from their water supplies. The truth he discovered, and the movie itself, is incredibly shocking.
GasLand is at once an exposé on the people affected and a critique on the corporate and political pressures that have led to the destruction of natural resources. The actual impact of the mining technique is less frightening than the corporate and political willpower to keep things moving in the same direction.
The movie progresses at a steady clip and is propelled by Fox's almost humorous monotonous voice. He may not have been an official documentarian at the time (with an Oscar nomination under his belt he sure is now), but the movie has the perfect balance of facts, storytelling and human interest pieces.
Whether GasLand's pessimistic prophecy that much of the country is susceptible to the same problems shown in the film remains to be seen, but the fact that such a fate is possible is disturbing enough. GasLand is one of the most compelling and engrossing documentaries of 2010.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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