The Age of Stupid

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Birkbeck Cinema

43 Gordon Square

London, United Kingdom

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BIMI in association with BISR Guilt Group presents Guilt: A Series of Films

The Age of Stupid

Franny Armstrong, UK, 2009, 89 minutes

The pace of climate change is at odds with the time-frame of democratic politics. What politician, locked into a four- or five-year electoral cycle, is going to court unpopularity by making tough decisions to fend off possible disaster in ten, never mind fifty or a hundred years’ time?

The Age of Stupid adds a fictional frame to what is otherwise a documentary about what’s happening now to the eco-systems on which we depend. It’s 2055. We’re shown in CGI that some cities are submerged, some burn, and others are returning to desert. Pete Postlethwaite plays the last man. He’s an archivist, who has assembled a record of what led to the self-extinction of the human race.

The film can be taken as an indictment. To that extent, it raises questions of responsibility and guilt. Guilt has often been seen as playing a crucial role in inhibiting destructive action. But the way in which the film’s framing narrative asks us to see the consequences of our behaviour from a point decades in the future raises the question of whether guilt in its ordinary forms could ever suffice to effect the enormous individual and collective changes necessary to avoid the direst consequences of climate change.

For information about the Guilt Group's work, see http://www.bbk.ac.uk/bisr/research/guilt-working-group.

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Birkbeck Cinema

43 Gordon Square

London, United Kingdom

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