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A movie for every day of the year – a good one

16 February

Kyoto Protocol comes into force, 2005

On this day in 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into force. A United Nations treaty, its intention is to get industrialised countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, so as to stabilise the climate before it collapses. The theory runs that 150 years of heavy industrial activity has increased the amount of dangerous gases in the atmosphere and that only by restricting current and future emissions can humanity hope to arrest the trend in global mean temperature rise. The gases in question are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride, plus the two groups of gases, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons. The target is, broadly speaking, to get emissions down below the level of the base year 1990. The treaty was never ratified by the USA. In 2011, Canada, Japan and Russia announced they would take on no further Kyoto targets. In the case of Canada, committed to getting emission to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, emissions were in fact 17% higher by 2009.

Hell (2011, dir: Tim Fehlbaum)

That’s “hell” as in the German word for bright, the light being the enemy in this apocalyptic drama set in a world cooking under an unforgiving sun.

If the director’s name, Tim Fehlbaum, is unknown to you, then you probably will be more familiar with that of the executive producer. It’s Roland Emmerich. But this is a much more satisfying film than Emmerich’s eco-disaster movies, 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, largely because it gives full reign to the sort of millennial angst that the Germans do so well, the twilight of the Gods and all that. Of course it’s “hell” in the other sense too, and in the opening scenes, set inside a car that has had all its windows blocked out against the piercing, baking light, we are given a brilliantly impressionistic portrait of life under a cloudless sky. For the most part, Hell is something like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – society has collapsed, the highways are full of marauding gangs, altruism is scant. We quickly meet the car’s inhabitants – two women, one man. Then another man arrives and there’s a tussle to prove alpha male status, which the guy who looks most like Viggo Mortensen (it’s Stipe Erceg) obviously wins. And after that the film diverts onto another plot altogether, as the teenage female is abducted by a gang of scuzzes, who intend to rape her, eat her, or both.

This digression breaks the spell brilliantly woven in the first section of the film and it takes a while to re-orient. But Hell is never less than accomplished, has an interesting non-Hollywood take on heroic individualism versus group activity and even, if you look at it hard enough, seems to be tackling the legacy of the Nazis even as it invokes the memory, here and there, of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Why Watch?

  • Fehlbaum’s feature debut
  • Markus Föderer’s brilliant cinematography
  • A brooding sci-fi thriller
  • Hannah Herzsprung’s badass heroine

Hell – at Amazon

I am an Amazon affiliate

© Steve Morrissey 2014

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