'Love Thy Nature': Film Review

Courtesy of Light productions
What better way to celebrate Earth Day?

Sylvie Rokab's documentary examines our deteriorating relationship with the natural world.

You can count on an ecology-themed documentary landing in theaters every Earth Day, and this year's is Love Thy Nature, its theme made plainly evident in its title. Directed and co-written by Sylvie Rokab, this wide-ranging examination of mankind's deteriorating relationship with the natural world is alternately illuminating and frustrating.

The scientists and experts featured describe how, starting with the Industrial Revolution some 300 years ago and continuing with the Digital Revolution today, we've steadily "pulled back further from nature." From there, the film lurches from one topic to another: how our pollution interferes with the planet's self-regulating properties; whether or not animals have feelings (not surprisingly, we're told they do, although Descartes thought otherwise); the new science of biomimicry, which is defined as "the conscious emulation of nature's genius"; our interdependence with plants and trees ("Trees need what we're exhaling, and we need what they're exhaling"); the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among children who engage in scant physical activity; and the concept of biophilia, which postulates our inherent need to affiliate with the natural world.

As that partial list indicates, the documentary, brief as it is, comes to feel like an environmental college course taken five minutes at a time. The segments are divided by relevant quotations by the likes of Alan Watts, Rachel Carson and John Muir, among others. But most of all, there's scenery, lots of it, both of the animal and plant variety, with a special emphasis on beautiful creatures frolicking in the wild. And speaking of beautiful creatures, there is frequent footage of hunky fathers and their adorable children playing on the beach, suggesting that unattractive people just aren't very natural.

For all the information presented, the film is insufficient on details, instead stressing the fairly obvious importance of such things as eating natural foods and getting fresh air. The heavy-handed narration is delivered by Liam Neeson, representing mankind as the voice of "Sapiens." Talk about typecasting!

And finally, it's all accompanied by a musical score so heavy-handed it would have been rejected as too treacly by the New Age record label Windham Hill.

The film means well, it really does. And there's no denying that it has many valuable lessons to impart. The irony is, of course, that if you really heeded its message you'd stop watching and go outside.

Distributor: In the Light Productions
Director-producer-editor: Sylvie Rokab
Screenwriters: Sylvie Rokab, Fernanda Rossi
Directors of photography: Rohan Chitrakar, Sylvie Robab, Eriberto Almeida Jr.
Composer: Francois-Paul Aiche
Narrator: Liam Neeson

Not rated, 76 minutes