Who knew that winning an Oscar was a pathway to the Nobel Peace Prize?
Al Gore talked about global warming for years, but it wasn’t until “An Inconvenient Truth” picked up an Oscar that Gore’s advocacy on the issue became a media sensation. Now the former vice president can add the Nobel Peace Prize to his kudos run, alongside that Oscar and his Emmy as co-creator of Current TV.
“An Inconvenient Truth” boosted Gore’s profile in his crusade for action on the climate crisis with a worldwide box office of just over $49 million.
In awarding the prize to both Gore and the U.N. panel on climate change, the Nobel committee alluded to “An Inconvenient Truth” when it noted that Gore’s “strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.”
“Inconvenient Truth” producer Laurie David said, “Do I think the film was a piece of this? Yes.”
“I think the award was a result of not just one film, a powerful film,” but of Gore’s “more than 30 years of hard work on this issue.”
Director Davis Guggenheim said, “I think it did have a small part. It was an event for people to rally around. I think that momentum was building like a wave, and we rode a wave.”
David saw Gore deliver part of his now-famous slide presentation in 2004 and was so influenced by the lecture that she set up a presentation at the Beverly Hilton. Along with producers Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns, plans were made to pursue a movie, with Guggenheim at the helm.
The movie undoubtedly helped change perceptions of Gore – from a stiff wonk to a sage of the go-green movement.
“People saw him in a different light, and I think the film played a part in that,” Guggenheim said.
The movie captured a more personal, even irreverent side of Gore, who was able to explain the global warming crisis in layman’s terms.
“People will ask me whether he has changed,” Guggenheim said. “But that is the wrong question. The question to ask is whether we have changed. He was just dead-on about everything.”
The film has become part of the regular curriculum in countries around the world, but its content is still stirring up controversy, with critics charging that it is partisan. British High Court Judge Michael Burton, ruling recently on an effort to ban the film from U.K. schools, said “Truth” was “broadly accurate.” He said it could be shown in schools if “guidance notes” are included that draw attention to nine different errors made in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration.”
John Lesher, president of “Truth” distrib Paramount Vantage, said the movie “was created relying on the best scientific evidence available. While the judge highlighted a handful of points he took issue with, the ruling that the film can be screened in U.K. schools verified that the central message of the film is true.”
Guggenheim added: “It is always going to be extremely controversial. Most people in Britain supported the film.” There is consensus among scientists on the threat of global warming, he noted, “But there are always going to be questions of are the predictions too extreme, or are they not extreme enough?”
David hopes that the Nobel will increase pressure for more action by the Bush administration and other lawmakers.
“The fact that this is worldwide recognition is just one more piece of pressure on the United States government to get involved in this battle,” David said. “We are the biggest cause of this problem, and we are doing the least about it.”
During an appearance Friday at the Palo Alto headquarters of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which will receive his portion of the Nobel Prize money, Gore gave no indication that he had any plans whatsoever to enter the race for president.
Were he to throw his hat into the ring, it could put some of his Hollywood supporters in an awkward position given that many already have lined up behind one candidate or another. Rob Reiner, for instance, recently endorsed Hillary Clinton.
(Ali Jaafar in London contributed to this report.)