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Thursday, December 2, 2021

‘Burning’ Review: Removing Fire Alarms In Australia

If you think climate change scares America, wait until you hear about Australia. This is the essence of Burn, which focuses on this country’s infamous experience with rising temperatures: horrific wildfires, politicians doing drill, and activists desperate to save us all by pointing out facts about the future.

The big difference is that the fires in Australia are the largest: during the so-called “black summer” (2019-20) more than 50 million acres were burned, which is significantly higher than the losses in California or the Amazon. Director Eva Orner (In Pursuit of Asylum) contributes to documentaries on climate change, adhering to Australia and highlighting the domestic impact on Australians. This is hell: red skies and dark days, fear and helplessness, pregnancy complications and death.

Orner’s flood of talking heads and footage from the field (including besieged locals and sickly koalas) turn into the drumbeat of anxiety – apparently justified, but overwhelming. The film also suffers from the more challenging and stimulating take on climate change, causing Lucy Walker’s Bring Your Own Crew anxiety. But young activist Daisy Jeffrey portrays an intelligent rebel leader confronting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his coal-friendly politics in this film.

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Like many environmental documents, Orner supports a potential savior (a tech billionaire who is turning towards renewable energy) and a pre-Lapsarian vision (pre-European aboriginal land management). Her film is ultimately another in a series of distress calls to the world, in which there is hope that Australia will not become a continent-sized Cassandra.

Not rated. The duration of the performance is 1 hour 26 minutes. Take a look at Amazon.

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