Al Gore was the first vice president to be part of an Oscar-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
So doesn’t it stand to reason that “Truth” is the first film to be part of a Nobel Peace Prize?
The 2006 documentary 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 Gore and the U.N. panel on climate change, the Nobel committee alluded to the movie 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.”
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. Among with producers Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns, plans were made to pursue a movie, with Guggenheim at the helm.
Undoubtedly, the movie helped change perceptions of who Gore was — from a stiff wonk to a sage of the go-green movement — probably best defined by the fact that Gore now carries the nickname, “the Gore-acle.”
“People saw him in a different light, and I think the film played a part in that,” Guggenheim said.
During production, Guggenheim says some people were a bit puzzled when he told them that he was making a doc about global warming featuring Gore.
“Even people in my crowd had sort of bought into the myth about who he was,” Guggenheim said.
Instead, 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 earlier this week on an effort to ban the film from schools, said that “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 that 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 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 on more action on the Bush administration and other lawmakers.
“The fact that this is world wide 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.”
Meanwhile, Gore gave no indication that he had any plans whatsoever to run for President in an appearance on Friday from the Palo Alto headquarters of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which will receive his portion of the Nobel Prize money. Even if he were, it may put some of his Hollywood supporters in an awkward position, given that many have lined up behind one candidate or another. Rob Reiner, for instance, recently endorsed Hillary Clinton.
(Ali Jaafar contributed to this story from London.)