Why?
Surviving Progress
Review by Ross Anthony

I Absolutely loved the first 20 minutes which was graced with perhaps one of the most elegant openings of a documentary ever. This wordless ape prelude reprises to conclude and leave audiences with a rich analogy to consider -- very tight. It provokes the pertinent question "Why?" This important question is also echoed nicely in the expressions of common people shot around the world. What a "wonder"ful slice of humankind! Further, between talking heads, are even more robust, sweet, insightful, meaningful, and artistically captured visuals.

And yes, the film brings up some very poignant concerns. The very ugly, very real, very dire downsides of progress. But the rub is, in my opinion, the production as a whole gets just a little stuck in that hole. There are many upsides to progress which get glossed over. Don't get me wrong, a doc like this is necessary and important and I even concur with the urgent warning of it all. Yes! Our brand of progress is in many respects spinning out of control and unless we pull in the reins there will be some very unpleasant consequences.

It's important to bring to light third world debt, oligarchic governments and blinded-by-profits corporations, but progress does have its upsides which were rather glossed over in this production. Virtually eliminating small pox means that millions of people were able to stay alive and contribute to the moral growth of humanity (perhaps MLK or Jefferson or Helen Keller) were some of them. And yes, progress may mean we get knocked back into the stone age, but so what? Really, so what? What's so bad about starting over? It's already been conjectured that we might have destroyed civilization and rebuilt it several times to get to where we are now. This is the kind of philosophical discussion the first 20 minutes of the film promise. I wanted to see/hear some possible solutions, some positive solutions. What would they look like? The picture quotes Stephen Hawkings: "If we make it passed these next 200 years, humankind should be alright." Well, give me some practical ways we can do that. Simply asking banks, selfish-dictators, and corrupt democracy's to "behave themselves morally" is one possibility. Sadly, there aren't too many optimists in that camp. Show me some alternative futures where those with the same kind of passion for sustainability as the individuals interviewed here (Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, etc.) find a way to curb the greed factor in others through political and economic means.

-- Books by Ross Anthony, Author/Illustrator --


  • Surviving Progress. Copyright © 2012.
  • Directed by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks. Based on Ronald Wright's book "A Short History of Progress." Executive Produced by Martin Scorses and Mark Achbar. Produced by Daniel Louis and Denise Robert.as.

Grade..........................A- (3.5/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Friday, 06-Apr-2012 12:12:37 PDT