The most compelling element of Anthropocene was its use of point of view. The extreme close-ups of intricate, organic designs that we realize are images of destruction as we zoom out. Luscious, luminous patchworks of jewel tones that zoom in to reveal poisons in our water. The first person point of view, riding a motor scooter through the hectic streets of Lagos.
But few of my students were as mesmerized and haunted by the film as I was. As we discussed the film and I reflected on my own point of view, I also tried to imagine Anthropocene from their point of view. The long, long slowly creeping camera shots; the rare voice-overs, soothingly beckoning me to sleep; the dark auditorium and clean, comfy seats; the knowledge that there would be no test at the end.
Then I remembered going to see Kubric’s 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was 16. The film was already ten years old when I chose it because I was trying to impress my date. I thought that picking an art house film would make it clear that I was erudite and sophisticated. But the movie bored me to death! All that silence. That club flying through the air in slow motion. Who or what was “Hal”? Classical music? No thank you. I can’t remember if I tried to fake my own appreciation of the film, but I do know that at the time, it just seemed pointless to me. And the fact that I was not curious about the filmmaker’s point of view or how it might shape my own, perhaps speaks more to being a teenager than it does to the speed of the editing. In fact, look how much of it I recall all these years later. It added a small building block of knowledge; it shaped my point of view whether I wanted it to or not.
All of us are a conglomerate of our own experiences. Some make us timid or skeptical while others make us brave or curious. The media that we have–or have not–consumed creates the foundation of our knowledge and opinions. An educated perspective is deep and wide. I have no doubt that Anthropocene added a valuable layer to my students’ point of view–even if they don’t know it yet.