The Age of Stupid : A 2009 British documentary
The Age of Stupid is a 2009 British documentary film by Franny Armstrong, director of McLibel. This was the film's official website during its pre and post production.
Content is from the site's 2008 archived pages, as well as from other outside sources.
The Age of Stupid - trailer
The Age of Stupid is a 90-minute film about climate change, set in the future. Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at archived footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?
This enormously ambitious drama-documentary-animation hybrid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching "archive" footage from 2007 and asking: why didn't we stop climate change while we had the chance?
The Seven Stars of Crude
Jeh Wadhia, India
Jeh was born into one of India's richest and most powerful business families. He believes that "everyone has a higher purpose" and that his is to "end poverty in our country in my lifetime". But travelling to rural areas at weekends by private jet to do social work cost "more than taking a village out of poverty". So he started taking the train. On one of these 26-hour journeys he had his Eureka moment. He would launch a low-cost airline. With fares starting as low as one rupee, even "rickshaw drivers, servants, taxi drivers" could fly. Within a year he'd get a million people off the trains and into the skies.
Layefa Malin, Nigeria
23-year-old wannabe medical student Layefa Malin wants "to live like an American" with "flashy cars and comfortable houses, drinking clean water and eating good food". But she lives in complete poverty in a tiny village in the Niger Delta, with no electricity, drinking water or toilets. About 20 people died in a recent cholera outbreak. She dreams of becoming a doctor to "save the lives of people who are poor or needy" and also "to become famous, to be like a hero". She starts going fishing every morning, saving up money for college fees, but the river is "not good" because of the pollution caused by the extraction of millions of dollars worth of oil from the area every month. With the whole region descending into a "living hell" of daily violence, murder and kidnapping, Layefa decides "if you can't beat them, it is best to join them".
Al Duvernay, New Orleans
Searching for oil off the coast of America is like "being a sports star or in some kind of battle", says lifelong Shell employee Al Duvernay. They drill three miles down, suck up some mud and give it to paleontologist Al. He examines the microscropic fossils, "deconstructs time itself" and advises where to drill next. The best bit is when the oil starts flowing and "smells so much like money it's just beautiful". On 30th August 2005, after Hurricane Katrina had decimated his home city of New Orleans, Al personally rescued more than 100 people in his boat. He thinks the devastation and suffering he saw that day is just a taste of what is to come if we continue to "literally burn up" our most valuable resource. "With our use or misuse of resources the last 100 years or so, I’d probably rename this age something like The Age of Ignorance, The Age of Stupid." he says. "If you multiply what happened to a million people living in this area by the billions on this planet... it's gonna be ugly".
Fernand Pareau, The Alps
For French mountain guide Fernand Pareau it was "truly love at first sight" when he set eyes on the ancient glaciers of the Chamonix valley. He has since climbed the world-famous Mont Blanc peak more than 150 times, including "two years ago, for my 79th birthday". But over his long lifetime Fernand has seen his beloved glaciers melt by more than 150 metres. "With global warming everything is different", he says. Trees are now growing much higher in the mountains and birds don't bother to migrate for winter. Fernand takes his great-grandchildren, Jean and Rudy, high up in the mountains to ski on artificial snow as the ski slope in the village has long since closed. 3000 lorries "taking French potatoes to Italy and bringing them back as mash" drive right past Fernand's house every day. "It's madness. Madness." Fernand joins bicycle protests and plants 900 trees, but knows he does so in vain. "I think people in the future will be angry at us for not thinking to protect the environment. We only thought to profit from it."
Jamila & Adnan Bayyoud, Iraq
Jamila and Adnan were only 5 and 6 when their home was destroyed by a missile on the second day of the Iraq war. They fled the house before the missile struck, but their elder brother, Malik, was badly burned and their father killed. "Our dad was the best one in all Iraq", says Adnan, "But the Americans came and killed him. We found him dead in the morning." The children now live on the streets in Jordan, scraping a living selling second-hand American shoes: "We wear our shoes till they fall apart, but they just throw theirs away". Meanwhile in Baghdad, brother Malik has managed to get the vital medical certificate he needs to make his ninth attempt at crossing the border. Jamila and Adnan get a taxi to the border, hoping to be reunited with their brother.
Piers Guy, England
Windfarm developer Piers Guy doesn't see wind energy as the magic bullet that will save the world from climate change. But he does think that, especially for a windy country like England, turbines are the "foot soldiers, the pioneers" of a more intelligent energy system based on massively reducing energy use. He believes that "out of sight, out of mind" energy production has led to us all becoming "consumerholics" and, therefore, "the more you can see the turbines the better". Unfortunately the well-funded, well-heeled local NIMBYs have no intention of letting Piers's turbines spoil their view. "It's a fair fight", says the anti-wind campaign leader "and I hope you lose".
FROM THE CRUDE MOVIE DIARIES
FROM THE BEGINNING
A film about oil
In bed at home in Camden
Cat snoring gently on my knees
Next five years mapping themselves out alarmingly
Current silver lining
Takes mind off recently departed boyfriend
I was snowboarding through perfect powder yesterday, so didn't really want to wake up and answer the phone. But it did insist on ringing and ringing on the landline and then the mobile and then the landline, till I suddenly panicked that my dad was dead and leapt to it. It was my filmmaking friend Alex Cooke, wondering why I was asleep at 7.45pm when we were meeting in Kings Cross at 7.30pm to go to a documentary seminar. She was remarkably understanding and suggested we forget it, but - thankfully, thankfully - I felt bad and cycled down there quick.
The talk was boring so we sat outside in the foyer with beer. She said she wanted to make a film about oil. Some time passed. I got up to go to the toilet. As I walked out of the room, mildly pissed, the word 'Traffic' popped into my head. I didn't know why.
Walking back in, three minutes later, I realised that we should make a documentary about oil, pinching the ingenious structure of Stephen Soderberg's movie Traffic. Five human stories weaving themselves around all sides of a complicated issue. I told Alex. She agreed it was genius and we should have more beers.
It's now the next morning and I still think it's genius. But a little overambitious.
Former drummer Franny Armstrong accidentally became a filmmaker. Her no-budget, ten-year doc, "McLibel" has been watched by 22 million people and featured in the BFI's "Ten Documentaries Which Shook The World" season. She also made Drowned Out (the fight against India's Narmada Dam) and Baked Alaska (melting ice in America's coldest oil state). Since 2004, she's been filming her new climate change epic, "The Age of Stupid", in Nigeria, India, New Orleans, Iraq, The Alps and Bedford.
Location London, England
Years on Crude 5
Years on Crude as % of total life 14
Jet, jeep, bike or bus Feet
Sleepless nights cos of climate change 7 last week
Original Crude connection Drunkenly thought of it
Memorable Crude moment Handing over master tape (not quite there yet)
Scared of Climate change and maggots
Guilty of Flying to film festivals
Climate change silver bullet Adopt
Life outside Crude Occasional singalongs
Life after Crude
Nov 28: From volunteer to movie star
High on green paint
I can't ever imagine anyone writing a sufficient job description for a Production Assistant. In the 9 months I've been with Spanner Films, I've been a volunteer, an office manager, an accounts assistant, a cook, a courier, a cocktail waitress, a make up artist, but today was officially the strangest working day (to date) of my time at Spanner.
Nov 11: Kamikaze PR strategy
Dilapidated grandeur of Grosvenor Hotel in Sheffield
Sick with nerves
We've brought Crude to the Sheffield Documentary Festival for a "work-in-progress" screening. Seemed like a good idea six weeks ago: thinking we'd kickstart the Crude hype machine as well as getting feedback from other filmmakers. But lots of people who know about such things are saying we're mad to show such an unfinished film in such a dragon's den. David made a good suggestion: why not show just the first 45 minutes and (hopefully) leave them wanting more.
June 11: 500 million people on the case?
1.10am, hire car on the M1, Lizzie driving
The last ever day filming Crude didn't start too well for poor Lizzie as the hire car she picked up yesterday developed a flat tyre and she spent half the night organising tow trucks. Then had to get up at 5.30am to pick me and new soundman Ben up to drive to Bedford for the result of Piers's three-year battle to get planning permission for his latest windfarm.
Oct 24: May as well scream
At a Cabon Detox Show in a church in Oxford
Franny's old pal George Marshall has been investigating the psychology of climate change denial for a few years, so we came to Oxford to pick his brains on the character of our old man in the future. We've been thinking perhaps he should be a do-gooder now: someone who recycles fastidiously but then flies five times a year on holiday.
Oct 16: Most powerful people ever?
Train home from George's place in Wales
George Monbiot came up with our new favourite thought on climate change today, during the many-times-postponed interview for the film. To paraphrase: you think you're powerless and anything you do is irrelevant? The opposite is true - we are the generation who will decide the future of our species. Every single thing each one of us does or doesn't do is crucial to whether we survive or not. Making us the most powerful individuals ever. He was also absolutely crystal clear on the Love Miles flying question:
Sept 21: Any animators out there?
My current role in life is meeting animators and attempting to persuade them to work on our film. There's plenty of them and they all love the sound of the project, think it's very worthwhile, would love to get their work onto the big screen and creatively it's very exciting but then as soon as I mention our meager survival wages, they start mumbling about how they're booked on a slimfast / catfood / plastic crap commercial and will have to get back to me.
The DVD version of The Age of Stupid is available on Amazon. I picked it up to give to amy father as he started one of those new alcohol programs whose approach and attitude towards excessive drinking is different from the well known 12 step / abstinance approach of AA and many US doctors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as a “chronic relapsing brain disease” Instead of treating alcoholism as a disease, assuming that certain people are innately prone to alcoholism, the more enlightened approach advocated by LifeBac, an online site he found one day while searching for a new approach towards dealing with alcohol abuse, looks at alcoholism as a symptom of larger psychological issues and needs to be treated that way. After suffering many years with his alcohol problems and always "failing" to "recover", he joined the LifeBac program and had started a combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The med he was on is called Baclofen that requires titration (slow dose increase) until cravings are completely removed or controlled. It had been a rough couple of weeks as his body adjusted to the medication. He wasn't too worried about the initial side effects, after all doctors in Europe prescribe baclofen as the primary treatment for alcohol abuse. We were all optimistic since clinical trials in Europe have shown 65% success allowing treatment-resistant alcoholics to return to low-risk drinking levels or abstinence when using the Ameisen method of titrated (not fixed) dosing. We spent a relaxing evening eating a takeout meal of tacos and watching The Age of Stupid dvd. We rated The Age of Stupid a four star documentary. UPDATE: six months later my father no longer has uncontrollable cravings to drink. I find it hard to believe but he can have a glass of wine with a meal and doenn't need any more. I'm so impressed with his progress and rather in awe of baclofen and LifeBac. Go Dad.
5.0 out of 5 stars Must watch film with one caveat
April 9, 2019
Format: Prime VideoVerified Purchase
The film states a problem, actually a set of problems. We see an Indian, who should have a red dot on his forehead, starting an airline and abusing the darker Indians who bow to his "whiter privilege" authority. We see a well-to-do English family who consider rationing and realize that their energy consumption prevents them from traveling by air on their vacations to melting glaciers, and fail at convincing the local English populous to approve a wind farm. We see an African woman who wants to live like an American.
What we don't see is any mention of clean, safe nuclear power. The film hints at the population explosion and considers rationing as a somewhat viable option. Airliner fuel can be synthesized using nuclear power. Rationing of electric power, which can "fuel" cars, is offered along with windmills as a possible solution. What is ignored completely is safe, carbon-neutral, nuclear power. Why? The filmmakers have decided the set of options for you. Nuclear power is not on the table they set. Stating the problem but ignoring the solution is quite common. Opening one's mind beyond tilting at, or for, windmills is up to you.
John S. Wintermyer
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not the "Age of Aquarius"
March 22, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Another in the long line of documentaries which challenge how we are destroying our own home and planet. So much of this film is also reflected in the latest book "The Sixth Extinction" and how we are destroying so many species in our time as we wantonly expand our desires to control and possess the earth.
One has to openly weep as we see the greed of so many actually destroying what has taken billions of years to evolve.
Not Real Name
5.0 out of 5 stars Of ghost satellites and airflight for the masses
March 24, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Makes a matter-of-fact case for why Mankind will continue to sit around twiddling his thumbs while Earth burns. After all, why do anything when Jesus will soon return and rapture the ones who caused it, then take them to heaven where they can pollute it into extinction as well. That's assuming they don't get confused and crucify their savior again before he can, well, save them.. Otherwise, the movie does not debate Man Made Global Warming and subsequent Climate Change. For example, Robert Felix and his book "Not by Fire But by Ice" are pushed aside not by name but by the science of a bigger, long-settled debate that is far beyond the comprehension of Felix and his equally-hot headed, one-man cult/Moon Landing Hoaxer and Mayan Doomsdayer who has been stalking me on Amazon for about three years.