Created by “Cultivate Living and Learning Centre” in Ireland this DVD contains ten 20 minute “Powerdown Shows”. Now if you wish to buy this you have to buy it off Rob Hopkins. Yes, Rob Hopkins of Transition Town fame. You have to go to his Transition Culture Blog and buy it from the web site. You pay via PayPal to Rob himself and the receipt has his E:Mail address. I can only imagine that the DVD was lovingly packed by Rob’s own fair hand. I would have thought he was too busy. Indeed he has been a busy boy as he appears at length in what seems like every episode of the Powerdown Show. The ten episodes are “The Challenge Ahead”, “The Power of Community”, “It’s all connected”, “Rethinking Energy”, “Getting around”, “Deconstructing Dinner”, “Shelter”, “Energy Descent Pathways” (the Transition episode), “Global Citizen” and “Where do we go from here?”. It is of no surprise that Rob has very much adopted these Irish documentaries – it is all about community transition to a post-carbon world. It runs like 200 minutes of Transition Culture propaganda – but good propaganda. As a documentary it is not very questioning or challenging of Peak Oil and Climate Change. Its mind is made up. On to action!
Each episode opens to some very funky animated graphics and a thumping sound-track. Each has lengthy intro with a lush female voice talking about the challenges ahead for communities facing Peak Oil and Climate Change. She tells us that oil supplies are already dwindling. Of course this is rubbish but the dogma passes quickly and each film manages to stay out of the crystal-rubbing hippy zone. Each episode’s intro is initially slick and likeable. However, watch ten episodes back-to-back and it starts to look a bit repetitive, samey and damn-right annoying. The main body of each documentary itself is fine. A couple of episodes have aesthetic editing problems where certain topic-sections massively overrun to the point of tedium. This could easily lose an audience. To make up for it they do get to interview a who’s-who of talking heads such as George Monbiot and Richard Douthwaite. Most of these fine gentlemen (and ladies) seem to be perched in front of a bookshelf showing all their favourite books. You can spot the ones you too may have read. Such fun.
You can giggle at the Kinsale Permaculture Teacher sitting in front of a bookshelf where Noam Chomsky rubs shoulders with Richard Dawkins and Douglas Adams. George Monbiot seems to have been interviewed in the pub. Some of the camerawork on location is poor with even some occasional static interviews being out of focus. However these errors are not too distracting. The great authority of many of the figures speaking lifts this out of the hum-drum. It is very watchable. Well, until the ending credits when there is a remarkably unfunny 2 minute “skit” which is so badly written and amateurish as to be totally unwatchable. I suggest that anyone wishing to show this to members of the public hit the Menu Button on the Remote Control before that section starts – lest it leads to excruciating embarrassment. You do wish somebody had took the Producers to one side and told them to cut it out. It detracts from an otherwise extremely useful piece of work. 20 minutes is very short but you can always group several together to make up a film show of almost any length you desire. It is probably best to show this as an opener to another movie. Useful. Recommended.