An inconvenient actor: Pete Postlethwaite

The Age of Stupid poster

"The Age of Stupid" is the best film on climate change ever made.

Described by Stephen Spielberg as “probably the best actor in the world,” Academy Award nominee and British climate activist Pete Postlethwaite died of cancer yesterday at age 64.

As the Financial Times put it:

On the screen, in a prolific number of films, he was a character actor with star quality: a gaunt and grizzled face, a bony physique, a voice that carried the dour burr of his native Cheshire. Oscar-nominated in 1993 for In the Name of the Father, an Irish Troubles drama centering on the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, he had strong off-screen political opinions – about war, social justice, climate change – which he regularly strove to carry into his movie career.

In 2009, Postlethwaite hosted The Age of Stupid, a documentary about the dangers of climate change done in the format of a look from a future century ravaged by environmental disasters back at our age, when world leaders still had a chance to avert the worst consequences of climate disruption but didn’t.

The film’s powerful images include the Sydney Opera House in flames, the Taj Mahal  in ruins and a major city half submerged. But the filmmakers defuse any potential for undue alarmism through sober but sobering interviews with experts and citizens, all held together by Postlethwaite’s eerie, deadpan narration.

In an op-ed he wrote for the British tabloid paper The Sun, Postlethwaite credited his wife Jacqui with helping him become “a climate change party bore.”

As to peak oil, this powerful film also explores the dangers of resource depletion. Watch the trailer and then get the film from Netflix. It’s the best movie ever on climate change and among the best on any environmental issue ever made.

— Erik Curren

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  1. says

    More than a year after he passed on, your assessment of the film that shone in his presence still holds true: “the best movie ever on climate change and among the best on any environmental issue ever made” — and yet, has it ever had its ‘premier’ on the networks? If it were up to me, it would play regularly on all television networks until we get the message.

    • Erik Curren says

      I’m with you Colin. I’ve seen a bunch of climate change films since and I agree that “The Age of Stupid” still outranks them all. We don’t watch much TV so I’m not sure if this great film has gotten much play, but you’re right that it certainly deserves it. And the world needs this film’s message more than ever!

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