There is now an overwhelming scientific and political consensus that climate change is occurring as a result of human activity and that there is an urgent need for action to address the causes and effects of this. This module will consider the place of film, television, and digital media in this global crisis and ask what we, as film students and scholars, can contribute to ongoing debates and initiatives.
Cinema is inextricably linked with the exploitation of fossil fuels, the modernity they supported, and the resulting environmental impact. While fossil fuels had been consumed for hundreds of years before the arrival of moving image technology, the twentieth century saw an exponential growth in energy consumption, and especially the turn towards petroleum usage. Like any industry, cinema and television consume resources in its production and consumption. Yet cinema has also shaped our understanding and use of natural resources. Nature programmes construct our idea of what the environment is. Advertising promotes consumption. Narrative fictions can likewise glamourise products, lifestyles and behaviours, or depict the catastrophic effects of climate change. Cinema is used as a tool within many industries for scientific and educational purposes. New media have also been adopted by activists and politicians to enact change.
This module will provide an opportunity to examine these myriad relationships and impacts between cinematic media and the environment. It will look at familiar narrative feature films from this new perspective and introduce new examples and types of moving image practice and their aesthetic models. It will encourage students to explore interdisciplinary understandings of media and their role in the world.