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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a movie worth watching

an article reposted from The Winnipeg Free Press online

Eccentric, but maybe not a lunatic, after all
By: Katherine Monk


Wiebo Ludwig is a name that conjures all kinds of thoughts in Canada. Convicted of vandalism resulting in millions of dollars in damages in 2001, Ludwig has often been cited as one of Canada's most noted "eco-terrorists."

He's been on the radio. He's offered sound bites to TV. He's waged an all-out war of optics against the Alberta oil and gas industry -- and lost every single time.

Ludwig always looked like a crackpot, and, thanks to the deep pockets of his biggest foe, there were endless experts available to dissect his supposed psychosis.

Ludwig never stood a chance, and in this new documentary from David York, we're given a front-row seat to the drama behind his media execution.

Picking up the rather long narrative thread that begins with Ludwig deciding to buy a little piece of paradise in northern Alberta, York takes us into the Ludwig compound for the first time.

Just making it inside the farmhouse is a huge victory, because it lets us lay eyes on Ludwig and his family without an imposing agenda. This is key, because Ludwig was always painted as a religious extremist who lived in a closed community where incest almost seemed unavoidable.

He and his best friend started the farm, and all their kids married each other. Now in their third generation, the Ludwigs appear to have kick-started their own Eden. At the beginning, it's a little weird seeing the women in head scarves and gingham dresses, but once we see them address the camera without fear, and with assertively pronounced opinions, we realize they are no Stepford Sisters, nor Big Love babies. They are smart, engaged and responsible women who want to keep their families safe. This is what mothers do, and what fathers are supposed to protect.

So what do you do when all your animals start dying? How do you cope with mass abortions among the flock, and the sight of malformed fetuses all over your fields?
More urgent, what on earth do you do when your own family starts to abort? What if your daughter was pregnant and someone put up a sour-gas well within spitting distance of your house? What if you knew, for sure, that your developing grandchild was destined to be born with birth defects, or worse, dead on arrival?

This is the situation Ludwig was forced to face for years. As he watched the life on his farm slowly die, he felt he had to do something.

But no one seemed to care. And no one listened.

York, a veteran filmmaker, could have immediately taken on the perspective of the disenfranchised farmer, and painted the whole film into an issue-specific corner. But he keeps his distance.

We are observers in this drama, and this is the film's particular strength, as well as its weakness because the facts are simply laid before us, without any specific editorializing.

Eventually, once we realize the futility of Ludwig's complaints, and the individual's place in relation to the oil and gas industry, the viewer becomes undeniably invested, because we imagine what might happen if this were our farm or our children.
When York pulls out the emotional trump card -- the funeral for one of the stillborn infants, whose head was crushed like an eggshell in delivery -- the viewer has to sit there with the horror of it all and realize this actually happened, and in our country.

Nothing less than a tragedy from a human perspective, Wiebo's War is also a cohesive and logical argument against the status quo that puts people and the environment second to profit.

Postmedia News
Movie review
Wiebo's War: A documentary
Directed by David York
Cinematheque
93 minutes
PG

1 comment:

Bill L. said...

I would like to point the discussion in a slightly different way, not to in any way derail the import or impact or insight of this excellent entry, only to offer a possible focus as an arrow pointing toward what I believe is clear and relevant application of its meaning.
In all of human history, the individual, or even small group that has dared to stand against the horribly flawed values of personal peace (just let me do what I like doing...) and affluence (however that has been defined in each epoch and local of history), well, such individuals become the target because, correct or not, they are a threat.
The Christian’s really do need to come face to face with this reality because it is coming to us much more rapidly than we are emotionally conditioned to accept. Our gelded version of the LIFE poured out in the upper room has not helped us understand that we stand between a “jealous,” “LIVING” God who truly will do what it takes that does not violate His character to insure that LOVE, as defined by Him, truly is the basis for the ages of ages we are about to enter, and the most malignant personality ever to exist, the Satan.
On one hand, we humans do not even begin to grasp the magnitude and magnificence of our true station in existence, and on the other, we fantasize about being God, or His equal. Both are misperceptions of mythic proportions; and both provide a nest for all the horror that our race experiences.
I do not think it is unrealistic to sound a clarion, to try to awaken all who seriously name the Name as their “High Tower,” as their personal “Righteousness” that they will almost certainly be called upon by the Living God to take the stand that will alert the world and the devil that we, the born-again ones, are part and parcel of that in all existence that actually is the threat. If it is accurate to reality that “nothing unclean will enter” the City of God, and that there really is a “highway” in the wilderness that is “too high for a fool to walk upon,” then we are an integral part of The Threat of all time to all that chose to stand in opposition the Son of Man and His will and way. Many the established, visible religious trappings that go by the name of “Christian” are going to be horribly “hurt” to learn that the God of the Bible is the Man, Christ Jesus and that He is not in any way weak or emasculated. Yes, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is the very definition of LOVE, as He is LIFE itself; however, Lions roar, have formidable teeth, muscles and claws, and it is no accident of human creation that one of His many Names is just that, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
It is my greatest privilege to know Him, even in the miniscule way I do now, and it is my greatest joy to offer Him the only thing I have to give that is truly mine… my “Thank You.” I pray that I, and all who truly have begun this walk of becoming, will grow out of our weakness and brokenness into people who can be trusted by those around us to provide, limited though it has to be, clear and accurate representation of the One Who loves us, Who loves them. I suspect the time remaining to do this may not be long.
Bill