“IF WE CAN IMPROVE THE IMAGES OF THE WORLD , PERHAPS WE CAN IMPROVE THE WORLD.” WIM WENDERS
This Wim Wenders quote has perhaps never applied more fittingly to any other film than HOME. As with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, HOME is evidently a radical film, the initial goal of which is to bring about a change in people’s mentalities, to make us aware of ongoing tectonic movement, to encourage us to act. Though it is true that today there is growing awareness of ecological issues in our societies, action to combat those issues is still too slow and too timid, an assessment that has somewhat become the principle of the film: “it’s too late to be pessimistic”.
But HOME is more than just a politically aware documentary. It is a marvelous object of cinematographic art. Each shot is breathtaking, showing us the Earth, our Earth, as we’ve never seen it before. Each image seems to say: “look at how beautiful the Earth is, look at what we’re destroying but, above all, look at all these wonderful things we can still save”.
When I began to work with Yann on this project, I was convinced that shooting a film completely from above without interviews, without archives … was the right idea, though I couldn’t really explain why. One conversation cleared it up for me: “seen from the sky, fewer explanations are needed”. That’s exactly what it is. The perception that we have is more immediate, intuitive, emotional. In that sense, HOME is different from any other film on the environment – although those films are just as necessary in this crucial time for humanity. HOME will hit home for each of us: force us to become aware, first via our emotions, in order to change our view of the world.
It is probably also the “fewer explanations” that allow the film to preserve its original intent, namely to address, in barely two hours, the biggest ecological issues that we face, and to show how everything on our planet interacts. Suffice it to say that this was no easy task as shooting went unscripted.
So that’s it for the content. But another significant aspect of what makes the film unique is its method of distribution. Yann is a generous man and, from the beginning, his dearest wish was to share this film with the entire world. That it be seen by the largest possible audience on every continent, and in addition … that it be free! During our first meeting I thought it was simply impossible. He used his exhibition “Earth from Above” as his reference. To this day, eight years after opening, it continues to travel around the world, and has been seen by over 100 million people for free. But a film’s production costs far exceed those of a photography exhibition! What’s more, the profits generated by films are the only reason cinema is able to exist. How could we put this together for free in such a context without calling on very generous donors, which obviously requires time, a lot of time? But the man is as impatient as he is stubborn, and the fight to save the planet is an urgent one, an absolute priority. The man is convincing and inspires confidence. So I jumped in without really knowing what direction we were going in, but very sincerely believing in the cause and ready to do anything to make sure the film saw the light of day, knowing that it could all end as quickly as it had started.
It was the incredible, unsolicited involvement of Luc Besson that gave credibility and viability to the project. It was essential that an international film studio be involved from the outset in the operation. It was the involvement of François-Henri Pinault and all the companies in PPR group that made it possible to turn the unthinkable goal of doing this on a global scale, virtually for free, into reality. It was the enthusiasm and determination of Yann Arthus-Bertrand that made it possible to unite the different energies and talents, thus achieving that incredible goal, for the common good of all, to the sole benefit of our planet and those who live on it. It’s probably not enough when faced with the immensity of the task that awaits future generations, but I’m sincerely convinced that it is our duty to act, each and every one of us, at our own level.
Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Today I only have one wish: that HOME serve as such a place for millions of individuals, on every continent.