‘Living in the Future’s Past’ Review
Director Susan Kucera and producer/narrator Jeff Bridges are smart enough to avoid cramming another preachy, guilt-laden, ‘destroying the world’ documentary down our movie-going throats (which is where popcorn belongs). Instead, they deliver a thought-provoking look at who we are, where we have come from, and where are we headed based on our actions and decisions of today.
Breath-taking photography is on display throughout the film – much of it in the beautiful National Geographic style we have become spoiled with over the years. Some of it is even more dramatic and impactful. There are images of oceans, Earth and of space. When Bridges’ familiar and warm voice tells us “The sky itself is not the limit,” we realize this movie is something different than expected.
Many experts are paraded out, and they come from various segments of society: Ecological writer and researcher Timothy Morton, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark, Ethno-botanist Mark Plotkin, astronaut Piers Sellers (since deceased), Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, as well as other scientists, politicians, and professors. The conceptual links between evolution and energy are a bit esoteric at first, but explanations and examples bring clarification.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the presentation is the blend of the scientific with the philosophical. The theory that what we “need” or “desire” drives our motivation on decisions and actions seems more than plausible. It is explained that we are “cultural beings” and our inherent need for group identity leads to the mass consumerism of society.
The difference between adapting to our environment versus controlling it is made clear by the comparison of bees and ants to our own mega-growth cities. Mr. Bridges’ home was recently destroyed by the Montecito mudslides, but that fact is not part of the film. Ms. Kucera’s film is not a lecture about climate change or how humans are ruining the planet, although it is certainly intimated. Instead, this is more about humanity – what makes us tick and what environmental challenges do we face now and in the future? How do we shift our decision-making from our own comfort and convenience to long term sustainability of our species (and others)? The film is presented well, thought-provoking, and yes, quite beautiful to look at.