Breaking Boundaries by Johan Rockström [7/10]

An imaginative, filmic approach to what is essentially a lecture, “Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” covers the nine planetary boundaries for planet Earth’s sustainability for human purposes, such as climate change (note this issue, a momentous one to me, is only one of the nine), ocean acidification, land use change, biodiversity loss, and five others. Johan Rockström, a Swedish environmental academic, runs an institute devoted to exploring the earth’s vulnerabilities at such macro levels. In a sense, he is synthesizing all the environmental dangers we know exist, all of them due to humanity’s inexorable grip on its planet. Well, now that I’ve told you what Rockström is addressing, how well does Breaking Boundaries work as a film? Rockström’s own talking-head and voice-over pronouncements can come across as a solemn, Swedish-vibe Ted Talk (and indeed there are some cuts from those), but the visuals and accompanying graphics and charts are terrifically conceived and executed. Best yet, David Attenborough provides a counter-narrative to Rockström’s, which proves to be a genius move. Attenborough turns a lecture into a story, and my recollection of Breaking Boundaries derives far more from memories of what he relates than the other elements of the film. Overall, this is a vital topic well treated in filmic fashion, with Attenborough-style genius thrown in. Highly recommended.

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