University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

The visual rhetoric of climate change documentary

Hughes, HA (2012) The visual rhetoric of climate change documentary In: Climate Change Politics: Communication and Public Engagement. Cambria Press, New York, pp. 87-120. ISBN 978-1-60497-8230

[img] Text (licence)
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (33kB)


Contemporary documentary filmmakers use high angle extreme long shots, including aerial shots and space photography, to present evidence for the considerable effects of centuries of agriculture and industry on the environment. The visibility of large-scale landscape interventions and atmospheric effects generates spectacular visual content to persuade audiences of the reality of the theoretical evidence for climate change. And yet two quite distinct and opposing directions can be discerned in twenty-first century attitudes towards aerial images. The first takes the optimistic view that the rhetoric of environmentalism, supported by still and moving images, particularly of the whole planet, is creating a growing active response from audiences. The second is a more pessimistic concern that still and moving image technologies, integral to the predominantly visual culture of modernity, and particularly significant in the development of remote control surveillance and weaponry, themselves contribute to the distortion of habitable space. Discussion of several films including Davis Guggenheim’s An inconvenient truth (2006), Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand’s Everything’s Cool (2007), John Lyde’s The 11th Hour (2008), and Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid (2009), illustrates the use of extreme long shots within the rhetoric of particular climate change documentaries.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
Hughes, HA
Editors :
Carvalho, A
Peterson, TR
Date : 2012
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:51
Last Modified : 07 Mar 2019 11:18

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800