“The stories we tell will determine whether our society declines and self-destructs or whether we can heal and thrive”. – Favianna Rodriguez
Movies have power. Remember back to the last time you were in a darkened theater? The anticipation you felt as you waded through the commercials and previews – the savory scent of buttered popcorn on your nose and the feel of freshly popped kernels melting on your tongue?
Then, as the movie starts, you are transfixed as your senses are bombarded with sounds and sights larger than life itself. Finally, as the credits roll, the out of body experience of converging into your life from the fictional one you just experienced.
“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible”. – bell hooks
The power of movies can inspire people to move mountains. They can educate, transform, and make you feel things you never thought possible. This was the basis for the New Vista High School workshop Cottonwood Institute created in – brand new for 2022’s third quarter. The premise of the class was to use film – documentaries, shorts, Ted Talks, youtube clips etc. – to understand their power and harness it for good in the world. Students chose films and facilitated critical conversations about the impact, affect and effect of these offerings. We debated equity, film quality, plot and characterization to see which movies about the environment contributed to the rhetoric around climate change and human’s desire/ability to act and which detracted.
This critical analysis helped students become more discerning consumers of media in an age when screens are such a part of their world. It helped students understand nuance – who created the film and therefore whose point of view was portrayed? And, for this instructor, it helped solidify that the original Lorax movie written in 1971 is still one of the most poignant, effective pieces of art on climate change ever to be created.