Sunday, 15 March 2009

"The Age of Stupid"

Last weekend, Caroline and I went to Malvern, to see Waiting for Godot, a marvellous production with a set to echo some of the scenes described in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. A dazzling performance by Ian McKellen too. His character, Estragon, has the line: "People are bloody ignorant apes." And on my visit to the cinema this evening (the first time I've been to a film premiere), I came out thinking: who can disagree?

"We live in the age of ignorance, the age of stupid," concludes one of those portrayed in the film (a former oil man from New Orleans), and indeed "The Age of Stupid" is its title. Having driven down to Bristol for this event, I became acutely uncomfortable during the film that I was going to have to drive an otherwise empty car all the way back again. Did I need to travel all that distance for another lecture on climate change? Don't I have all the information already?

Well, there was an aura of gesture about Vivienne Westwood cycling - rather uncertainly - along the green carpet, as relayed to us direct from Leicester Square before the showing; but the film itself is quite nicely nuanced in some ways. The character I mentioned - despite seeing the light after losing all in the Katrina disaster - seemed to go on living a lifestyle many of us here would now not wish to emulate. A Nigerian aiming to qualify as a doctor aspires to an American way of living, "and then you would never want to die." The Indian launching a new low-cost airline seeks to take his people out of poverty. Who shall throw the first stone?

So, yes do go and see it for yourself if you can do so easily, and take others with you. It's on from Friday this week (20th) in Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Sheffield and various London cinemas - and at others you can find via its website. If the film is not shown in cinemas near you, you can rent the DVD and arrange a screening for yourself and friends, from 1st May: not expensive.

Its subject is after all the single most pressing issue of our age.

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