Collapse (2009) dir. Chris Smith
A documentary featuring Michael Ruppert
By Blair Stewart
At some point in our present existence predicated by its own existence civilization will run low on oil. In lockstep with this fact is the exponential swelling of our populace while entrenched battles for fossil fuels causes the global economy to pinball around. Until then.
Made by Chris Smith, the documenatarian responsible for "American Movie" and "The Yes Men", "Collapse" probes the career of Michael Ruppert; former LAPD officer, investigative reporter, publisher of the underground newsletter 'From the Wilderness' and possible Oracle of western civilizations decline. Together they sit in a grubby warehouse for an interview as tentacles crept their way around my plans for a fat retirement.
Locked into a single-person bull session with an old man shouldn't make for an unsettling experience and yet the intelligence and the paranoia and the devout cynicism of Ruppert did just that to my placidity. Switching between Ruppert's talking head and related footage of his scorn for most media, government, higher law enforcement and alternative energy, "Collapse" maps out the fierce bush humanity may need to hack through for progression. No doubt an ego boost for survivalist and vegan hippies alike. Like a knowing horror film where bloodshed outside of the frame is far worse for the imagination a similar effect is had just from Smith's subject talking. This doesn't make everything Michael Ruppert is saying to be cardinal virtues from hell; it's that he has a convincingly burnt-out way of pointing out likely cataclysms and the realities of overpopulation and peak oil overpowers my personal horseshit detector.
"Collapse" is a stylistically unusual documentary for Smith as it has an Errol Morris "Fog of War"/"Mr. Death" touch to it from the film's setting to the Philip Glass-ish soundtrack down to the poster design. This is akin to Soderbergh blatantly aping Wong Kar-wai's style and odd as Smith is one of the best in his field. A form of flattery perhaps, and possibly the proper (only?) way to approach the singular personality of the cigarette-punishing Ruppert. A good documentary on a great mouthpiece, and worthwhile viewing for everyone who has a stake in the derivatives of oil.
N.B. One piece of sage advice is passed along: buy perennial vegetable seeds for your garden, you might need them down the road.