«They tell me I can save the world… the orang-utans, the dolphins, the oceans, the rain forest, and even humankind–all I have to do is buy sustainable and fair products. But that’s a lie.»
– Werner Boote, The Green Lie
The Green Lie
Austria, 2018 97 minutes
(opens in a new window)The brainchild of Austrian film director Werner Boote (known for his films Plastic Planet and Alles Unter Kontrolle) and Kathrin Hartmann, German environmentalist, and expert on sustainability, The Green Lie reveals the bitter truths behind environment-savvy consumerism and designates ethical consumerism as the latest kind of brainwashing, namely “greenwashing”. The film was financed by the Austrian Film Institute, the Vienna Film Fund and the Austrian public service broadcasting organization, ORF. With its humane, first-person narrative approach, it’s meant to appeal to an art cinema audience as well as to the majority of contemporary consumers. Similar to its funding, its audience will be wide and all-encompassing. Rightfully.
Contrary to its broad-ranging topic, the film has a fixed dramatic structure with two main pillars. One is the protagonist who undergoes a serious change during the film. The other is the narration, structured in contrasts. The portrait of the protagonist–an enlightened and caring European consumer who, at the very start, defines himself as someone who had a happy childhood, learned to be a good boy, to be polite, to avoid arguments, and, in general, is striving for harmony–is depicted in the contrasts to his antagonists: Kathrin Hartmann, his female colleague, environmentalist and co-author of the film, and other experts that the couple encounter within their exploration and who gradually help Hartmann unveil the unpleasant background of Boote’s comfortable consumerist beliefs.
Due to this firm narrative structure and the excellent cinematography by Dominik Spritzendorfer and Mario Hoetschl, the examples of greenwashing selected for the film are intertwined with dialogues between Boote and Hartmann and their interviews with experts, activists, and protagonists into an informative journey around the world.