Enormously important if somewhat shoddily composed (from a constructive perspective) documentary from Marshall Curry that surfeitly redeems all it’s shortcomings by the looming brilliance of it’s better footage/moments & off the basis of the central subject itself. It covers one of the greatest movements of modern America – the Earth Liberation Front or ELF, a group of ecological activists that took direct action (most notably in large-scale commercial property destruction) against corporate targets with a strict abstinence from the use of violence or infliction of any physical injury. They pulled off some substantial & balls-out actions by burning down warehouses/buildings of logging firms, SUV vendors, forest management authorities & the like, never with so much as a single physical causality. The core ideal was to hit the revenues of firms that profited from mass tree felling, environmental destruction, pollution etc, which they achieved, often causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage. In accordance with the predictable insanity that plagues American political policy, this small collective of moral/social activists would eventually find themselves being branded as the U$’s number one domestic “terrorist” threat (so that’s superseding all criminal gangs, far right groups, militia, biker gangs & pro-life/anti-abortion groups, all of whom were actively murdering in multiple numbers) & were relentlessly hounded by the FBI at the behest of multinationals & our good friends at the demonic Satanic secretion – the American Legislative Exchange Council/ALEC (truly one of the worst & most wicked organizations ever’ ever to slither the earth).
Cue massive misrepresentation, hyper exaggeration & hysterical victimization from the conglomerate & political channels, which was allocated to tarnish this movement by a rabid corporate lynch-mob that resulted in the ELF being christened “eco terrorists”, because commercial enterprise is more important than people’s lives. Burning down the planet is fine but never ever burn the private property/stock of a functioning company. It’s nice to know where we stand in the hierarchy of priority. Awful new legislation was tailored, a turn-coat was eventually located & exploited to the maximum extent to entrap fellow activists & some of the most extraordinarily perverse & exorbitantly excessive prison sentences were dished out or used to menace young principled kids that took a stand into plea-bargains or/& hard prison convictions.
This documentary presidingly focuses on one such ex-member, Daniel McGowan, who was jailed for a seven-year stretch in a special penitentiary reserved for terrorist (the real ones) prisoners (the documentary follows him before his conviction was passed). The ridiculously ill-ascribed “terrorist” moniker & the utter sanctimony & sheer inanity overkill of the state’s reaction to these brave & staunchly principled people is covered in far more detail in the book “Green is the New Red”, a brilliant account on the same subject by journalist/writer Will Potter (who has also found himself on an FBI blacklist simply for reporting on the subject). Specific small scale destruction by the public in defense is ruthlessly smashed whilst indiscriminate sprawling mass destruction by the private sector on the offensive for it’s personal economic enrichment is fully legal, legitimate & encouraged if not subsidized with tax payers blood. It fucking says it all. Great footage & direct testimony over 1995’s legendary Warner Creek protest that saw protestors constructing a fort in defense of ancient red wood forest in Oregon (not to dissimilar to Britain’s Newburry protest from the late 90’s). There is also plenty of horrific police brutality/torture footage. One such section of uniformed police carefully dabbing chemical weapons residue into multiple young girls pried-open eyes with cotton swabs whilst they are shackled is disgusting in the absolute uttermost. There is so much to be learned/observed here –
Director: Marshall Curry