A film review by Judy Lewis
The title of this documentary film refers to both the forest giants and former senator Dr Bob Brown. Brown’s quest for conservation of the few remaining forests and other natural features of Tasmania and later Australia is now widely known. The film features both the magnificence of old growth forests and the complex dependence of the multitude of life forms found there. Destroyed ecosystems will take hundreds of years to replace after clear felling. The need for any old forest logging is refuted and the valuable carbon absorption by forests is clearly presented.
The film aims to educate and inspire through footage of the forests. The contribution of each ‘resident’ of the forest and the communication of the many plants, fungi and mosses was beautifully portrayed although the ‘point cloud animations’ used to illustrate biological processes were distracting.
The life of Bob Brown is the other focus of the film, with material and interviews from his early days as an activist against the damming of the Franklin river to his move into politics, first in Tasmania, later to the federal parliament as leader of the Greens. A total lack of concern for the environment by politicians of both sides in the 1980s, let alone the Tasmanian hydroelectric commission, was covered with damning footage. The use of blockades, media coverage and images of untouched beauty at that time swayed public opinion and the then younger generation who rallied to join Bob were the key to success. Through unexpectedly gaining seats in parliaments, destruction was resisted, until the next time.
Bob Brown’s life was intertwined with his activism and the setting up of the Greens, the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups he inspired through his openness and skills in dealing honestly with people.
His homosexuality is featured and this may give younger viewers a reminder of the changes in this area as well as in attitudes towards environmental conservation. Bob’s love and appreciation of the support given by his partner Paul over 25 years enabled him to continue in politics for as long as he did. Other Greens parliamentarians are portrayed but it was Bob Brown’s leadership, sense of decency, optimism and trust in the Australian public that carried the visions he and others held to.
‘Giants’ aims to inspire and asks questions of the viewer as to their own actions. I came out feeling guilty, but with renewed interest in conservation.
The Bob Brown Foundation is planning to release the film for use by local groups after it has finished screening in cinemas. I hope you have an arthouse cinema near you or will view it when released for general viewing.
Disclaimer: views represented in SOFiA articles are entirely the view of the respective authors and in no way represent an official SOFiA position. They are intended to stimulate thought, rather than present a final word on any topic.