Collapse (film)

Collapse (film)

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Collapse, directed by Chris Smith
Chris Smith (filmmaker)
Chris Smith is an American film director, cameraman, producer, writer, and editor. He is best known for directing American Movie, which was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival....

, is an American documentary
Documentary
A documentary is a creative work of non-fiction, including:* Documentary film, including television* Radio documentary* Documentary photographyRelated terms include:...

 film exploring the theories, writings and life story of controversial author Michael Ruppert
Michael Ruppert
Michael C. Ruppert is an American author, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, and investigative journalist and peak oil theorist....

. Collapse premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is a publicly-attended film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, 339 films from 59 countries were screened at 32 screens in downtown Toronto venues...

 in September 2009 to positive reviews.

Ruppert, a former Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 police officer who describes himself as an investigative reporter and radical thinker, has authored books on the events of the September 11 attacks and of energy issues. Critics call him a conspiracy theorist and an alarmist
Alarmism
Alarmism is excessive or exaggerated alarm about a real or imagined threat e.g. the increases in deaths from infectious disease.-See also:* 2009 flu pandemic* European sovereign debt crisis* 2012 phenomenon* Climate change alarmism...

.

Director Smith interviewed Ruppert over the course of fourteen hours in an interrogation-like setting in an abandoned warehouse basement meat locker near downtown Los Angeles. Ruppert’s interview was shot over five days throughout March and April of 2009. The filmmakers distilled these interviews down to this 82 minute monologue with archival footage interspersed as illustration.

The title refers to Ruppert’s belief that unsustainable energy and financial policies have led to an ongoing collapse of modern industrial civilization
Societal collapse
Societal collapse broadly includes both quite abrupt societal failures typified by collapses , as well as more extended gradual declines of superpowers...

.

The film does not overtly take a perspective on the validity of Ruppert’s positions and critics have alternatingly described the film as supportive and as critical of Ruppert’s views. Smith himself, speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere, said that "What I hoped to reveal was ... that his obsession with the collapse of industrial civilization has led to the collapse of his life. In the end, it is a character study about his obsession."

Synopsis


Sitting in a room that looks like a bunker, Ruppert briefly recounts his life including his parents' ties to U.S. intelligence agencies
United States Intelligence Community
The United States Intelligence Community is a cooperative federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of the national security of the...

 and Ruppert’s own career as an LAPD
Los Angeles Police Department
The Los Angeles Police Department is the police department of the city of Los Angeles, California. With just under 10,000 officers and more than 3,000 civilian staff, covering an area of with a population of more than 4.1 million people, it is the third largest local law enforcement agency in...

 beat cop and detective. Ruppert then summarizes current energy and economic issues, focusing mainly around the core concepts of peak oil
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

 and sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

. He also criticizes fiat money
Fiat money
Fiat money is money that has value only because of government regulation or law. The term derives from the Latin fiat, meaning "let it be done", as such money is established by government decree. Where fiat money is used as currency, the term fiat currency is used.Fiat money originated in 11th...

 and discusses CIA drug trafficking
CIA Drug Trafficking
A few sources indicate the United States Central Intelligence Agency might have been involved in several drug trafficking operations...

.

The bulk of the film presents Ruppert making an array of predictions including social unrest, violence, population dislocation and governmental collapses
Failed state
The term failed state is often used by political commentators and journalists to describe a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government...

 in the United States and throughout the world. He draws on the same news reports and data available to any Internet user, but he applies a unique interpretation -- “connecting the dots” as he calls it.

Smith periodically stops Ruppert to question his assumptions and provide a note of skepticism
Scientific skepticism
Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

.

Critical reception


After its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by the Time division of Time Warner, that covers film, television, music, broadway theatre, books and popular culture...

 called Collapse “one of the few true buzz films of the festival” and wrote that “you may want to dispute (Ruppert), but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says — right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia — takes up residence in your mind.”

Daily Variety wrote that Collapse was “unnervingly persuasive much of the time, and merely riveting when it's not, Ruppert's talking-head analysis gets the Errol Morris
Errol Morris
Errol Mark Morris is an American director. In 2003, The Guardian put him seventh in its list of the world's 40 best directors. Also in 2003, his film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.-Early life and...

 treatment from director Chris Smith (American Movie
American Movie
American Movie: The Making of Northwestern is a 1999 documentary directed by Chris Smith. The film chronicles the real 1996-1997 making of Coven, an independent horror film directed by an independent filmmaker named Mark Borchardt...

), whose intellectual horror film ranks as another essential work.”

The Onion
The Onion
The Onion is an American news satire organization. It is an entertainment newspaper and a website featuring satirical articles reporting on international, national, and local news, in addition to a non-satirical entertainment section known as The A.V. Club...

’s AV Club wrote that “in several immensely poignant moments, we can also see an angry, lonely, vulnerable man whose life epitomizes the title as much as the globe does. There are many layers to the man and the movie, and I for one left the theater shaken.”

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 wrote, "I don't know when I've seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn't tear my eyes from the screen. "Collapse" is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it."

Distribution


In October 2009 the filmmakers announced that Collapse would premiere simultaneously in theaters in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and on Video On Demand
Video on demand
Video on Demand or Audio and Video On Demand are systems which allow users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content on demand...

on November 6, 2009. According to press announcements, this unique release arrangement “will mark the first time a film will be released this soon after it premiered at a festival without distribution.”

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