3 out of 5 stars
If you have the opportunity to bring up the name Greta Thunberg in casual conversation, it is guaranteed to have a polarising effect. Depending on where people sit on the sliding scale of political issues, the Swedish teenager manages to render a varied level of reactions. Where some individuals are raving fans of the climate crisis advocate, others find her message and methods to be overly alarmist. Yet, what is truly fascinating is that the majority of people around the world have heard of and have an opinion of this young autistic woman with an unapologetically caustic message for the world’s leaders.
To get her message out to the masses, Greta and her parents have put their faith in the hands of Swedish director Nathan Grossman. I am Greta is the work of this man who was allowed to follow the activist around the world as she became a lightning rod of controversy. Along with Greta and her father, they primarily travel around Europe to meet with the various leaders and grass-roots movements that have sprung up since her school strikes outside of the Swedish Parliament. This documentary shows behind the scenes aspects of the teen and how she manages to cope with her sudden fame, the numerous requests from the media and how the public views her mental health. Then when asked to travel to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, she chooses to travel via a wind-powered sailboat that tests her physical and emotional limits, not to mention that of her father and the cameraman.
Grossman manages to add in footage of the massive rallies that occurred around the world and the responses from the talking heads as well as key government leaders. Then the filmmaker shows the reactions that Greta had to many of the comments made about her and the message she is trying to communicate. Her responses show her maturity and willingness to acknowledge her autism. Specifically that she sees this component of her life as more of a benefit than a hindrance. Similarly, the Swedish director shows the emotional and physical toll that it has taken on her family. They prove to be her primary support team and each does their part to come alongside to assist their daughter in her cause.
There is an assumption that this film would primarily be for the fans of Greta and those who advocate for the climate crisis message. Even though this is initially an accurate assessment, there is more to this film than mere climate crisis propaganda. It also serves to show how young people can do something to make a difference in the world, that perseverance is necessary to accomplish their goals and that time will tell of the emotional toll it will take on this 'laser-focussed' young woman.
It may be worthwhile stepping back and evaluating how this sudden fame has impacted Greta. What this project manages to do is show the parasitic experience of the lives of those who have been thrust into fame. Every person she came in contact with from outside her family seemed to want something from her and very few gave something back to her. Even though this notoriety looks to be something Greta and others would desire to have, in the end it comes off as dangerously consuming of the very soul of the girl. There is never any question that her parents love her, but there was a limit to what they could protect Greta from as this publicity explosion occurs around her.
For those who are passionate about the young Swede’s message on climate, this story will provide a banner for you to raise up and cheer. While those who may be a bit more skeptical of these climate crisis tactics, you might want to give this film a miss. Yet, there is value to engaging with this true to life tale as parents. Greta’s story has the opportunity to open up the conversation about the topic of climate with their children and to share what they understand of the needs of the natural world. More importantly it opens the door to discuss the trappings of fame. Grossman manages to expose the vicious nature of the life of a public figure and the need for clear protections to be put in place for young people who are thrown into the spotlight. His film manages to show that despite the overwhelming world-wide support for this young activist, there is a cost involved and only time will tell how it will impact Greta and the world.
Reel Dialogue: God and conservation
It is no surprise that I Am Greta focusses on climate conservation. The young activist has managed to capture the attention of the world and her targeted agenda is the care of the planet. She passionately and pointedly calls out all of the governments of the world for their lack of action on this topic and hopes to mobilise the youth of this world to make changes.
She admits that she does operate with rhetoric that seems black and white, but understands that this complex subject exists in a world of grey. Admitting that the tactics of many within this community take on different levels of effectiveness. Some are exceptionally good at what they do and should be supported to help in saving the natural world. Unfortunately, some organisations have taken it to such an extreme that it has become heavy-handed and lacks any appeal. So, what does the Bible have to say about this topic?
One of the first commands from God to mankind was to take care of his created world. The challenge is to not allow the creation to take precedence over the care of humanity or to get in the way of our service of God. Like most things, the natural world does have a place in God's world, but the created should never diminish the focus on the Creator.
We are to care for the resources that God has provided for us, but not to allow them to become gods themselves.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:26-28
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. Proverbs 27:23
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26