CAPSULE: Here we have some important messages presented in what is too frequently a patronizing style. LOVE THY NATURE starts as a admiring look at the spectacular natural world and humans' position within and along side of nature. Nature really is something to love right now, as the title says. The message is true but the presentation style talks down to the viewer. It would be a sad commentary if we need to be patronized if we are going to accept the message. Sylvie Rokab co-writes and directs and is one of three cinematographers. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
This is a film that mesmerizes the viewer with some terrific nature photography to remind the observer how much he/she should be loving nature, and in doing so talks down to the viewer. I saw it on a big screen TV and I wish it had been on a full-sized theater screen to appreciate the spectacular nature photography. But when the film shows people it shows views of happy people enjoying being in nature like an illustration from a Watchtower tract.
Liam Neeson narrates the film calling himself "Homo Sapiens Sapiens." In other words, he is at times pretending to be the spirit of humanity. Yet he also is upbraiding humanity for its bad habits. So some of the message is much needed but confused. Also all too much of the message is laced with New Age ideas, some of which are actually dangerous. As an example, the film recommends natural herbal cures preferentially over mainstream medicine. It reassures the viewer that if the herbal cures do not work the viewer an fall back on mainstream medical therapy. (A woman I worked with was taking herbal medicine for her very severe headaches. She died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage.) Not all the advice the film gives is anywhere near such bad suggestions, but the viewer may do better to accept or reject points made by the film on a piece-by-piece basis. One should not accept all the ideas without some prudent skepticism.
The film is of an uneven visual style with most of the nature photography toward the beginning. The film's approach is rather scattershot. It will be talking one minute about how we have a symbiotic relationship with trees and their photosynthesis, and then it will be talking about global warming. Having an excellent actor like Liam Neeson narrate could be a real asset to the film, but having him represent all of humanity is bothersome. Elsewhere the film has major figures in conservation interviewed, including people like Andy Lipkis, founder of the tree conservation group the TreePeople. One moment the film can be interviewing a respectable expert on the science of his subject and the next we will be seeing an animated bee puppet.
This is a documentary that has its heart in the right place, presenting many challenging issues facing humanity with varying degrees of optimism. For me the film would have worked better if it had a greater degree of trust for the intelligence of its viewer. And to some extent the film also seems to be preaching to the choir. Most of the film's viewers will probably already believe the messages of the film before they even see it. I rate LOVE THY NATURE a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3244466/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/love_thy_nature/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper