‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ explores vigilante eco-sabotage

When the creators of “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” originally set out to adapt book of the same namecriticizing the meekness of climate activism, director Daniel Goldhaber had an idea for a movie that was very different from what they ended up making.

“I was so angry, I felt so powerless, and I thought, ‘Let’s do a big old promo,'” he said.

Goldhaber recalls his writing partner Ariela Barer, who also starred in the film, and Jordan Sjol convincing him to leave that place and convincing him that the idea would end up “becoming a really boring movie.”

Instead, they decided to make a heist thriller, opening in theaters Friday, about a group of young activists plotting to take down a West Texas oil pipeline.While the group is made up of people with vastly different backgrounds and reasons for joining, many of its members are Individuals affected by climate change And band together to fight it desperately — not unlike the young creative team itself.

Neon’s “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is decidedly less canonical than Andreas Malm’s 2021 book, which argues that climate activists should look back to past movements, such as the abolitionists and suffragettes, to understand what happened in modern history. Substantive reforms are rarely propagated through pacifism.

Goldhaber said he considered criticism of the book and hoped the film would be seen as a nuanced adaptation.

“If the movie had a political point, it wouldn’t be ‘Go out and blow up the pipeline,'” he said.

But the film does rely heavily on the arguments Malm presents, an idea that came from Sjol’s idea of ​​”moving a work of academic theory into film,” Goldhaber explains.

Malm is a scholar of human ecology, an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on human-environment relationships across cultures. In his work on the climate movement, Malm has been an outspoken critic of nonviolence and a proponent of property destruction, saying it is the only viable response to the enduring power of the fossil fuel industry.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” joins a growing list of films exploring the issue of climate change and how best to deal with it, from dark dramas such as Paul Schrader’s “The First Reformation,” allegorical satire, as in Adam McKay’s “Don’t look up.”

Lukas Gage, who joined Barer and the rest of the breakout cast, recalls receiving Malm’s book and script.

“I read the book first and thought, ‘How the hell does this become a narrative film?'” he said.

Already a fan of Goldhaber’s directorial debut, “Cam,” Gage was finally persuaded by what he believed to be an important story that could foster conversation about the way forward in addressing the climate crisis.

“With Congress failing to do anything about it, it certainly makes me think about what we can do, but maybe not so little,” he said. “I think it will stay with us forever.”

Gage’s character Logan is clearly an outlier in this group, a privileged punk driven more by his love for his girlfriend Ron (Kristen Froseth) than by his love for environmental concerns.

“I grew up in the punk scene and activism space in L.A., and those guys were always there. Like, there was always a Logan and a Rowan,” Barer laughs. “We want a level of empathy for the people who come in, kindness that also unlocks the position that their privilege has given them.”

Despite Logan’s high position, there’s a redemptive character arc to his character arc, which Goldhaber believes is important.

“What’s really inherent in the project’s DNA is trying to fight some of these narratives that I think create a self-perpetuating toxic culture on the left, like the narrative that we can’t come together,” he said.

Goldhaber, the son of a climate scientist, said he wanted the film to add vulnerability and complexity to their theoretical data.

“I think there’s something very provocative about this idea,” he said.

—Christa Foria, Associated Press

film and tv

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *