GasLand (2010)

Written & Directed by Josh Fox, filmmaker & concerned Pennsylvania resident

Documentary films are one of the best forms of storytelling in my opinion. They are able to capture the truth of an event, era in time, etc. They are also capable of being biased. They are capable of entertaining, of moving, and of engaging their audiences. Documentary films are not necessarily fact, but they are non-fiction, and in a way that makes them that much more real and compelling. In this case, we have the Oscar nominated film GasLand and the man behind it all, Josh Fox. Fox is a filmmaker who lives out in the country in North-Eastern Pennsylvania. Like many who decide to live their lives in these sparsely populated, yet immensely beautiful portions of the country, Fox is becoming concerned for his safety, and the safety of the land he so loves.

This documentary is both political and environmental, so if you strongly dislike either of these, I strongly encourage you to watch the film, because strong opinions need strong opinions. We all need to see the other side of the coin, otherwise how do we know our side is the right side? So Josh Fox was offered $100,000 to sell his land to natural gas drillers. But instead of pocketing the cash, he instead decided to investigate the repercussions of such a decision and the process of drilling. What he found was disturbing, shocking, and unhealthy. In this film, Fox visits many people who have discovered that natural gas drilling (or more specifically hydraulic fracturing, “Fraking”) has come to contaminate their ground water, and in some cases pollute the air around them to levels worse than the smog in Los Angeles.

What is shocking is that Fox discovers this all over the country. It is not an isolated incident. And even worse, these people are being largely ignored, with large companies pocketing millions, billions of dollars at the expense of human lives. As with every documentary, I am skeptical of what the other side of the story is, though the other side, of course, declined to comment. The only person to speak was a government official for the state of Pennsylvania, who said that harnessing energy sources is not perfect and neither is drilling for natural gas. There is going to be some collateral damage in any endeavor to retrieve natural resources for energy. It is a bad situation, but must be done. He described it as “taking two steps forward, and one step back.” I am not sure who to believe, though Fox gave me no reason not to believe him.

Josh Fox and his documentary film GasLand is immensely interesting and pertinent. It is one of those films that tries to have an effect on the story it is telling. It was made to call attention to the travesty happening all around the country of contaminated water and polluted air in places that are thought to be fresh and clean and untouched by the industrial America. There is a lot of technical jargon, a lot of concerned citizens full of humanity and at the end of the day, a daring film that is worth a view. When will America learn that a life is more important than a dollar bill?

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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