From: Rick Barrett, for ENN
Published June 30, 2010 02:30 PM

Review of Beautiful Islands

This Japanese documentary looks at three unique islands that may have been impacted by global warming: Tuvala in the South Pacific, Venice in Italy, and Shishmaref in Alaska.

This documentary has very little dialogue and limited subtitles so the story relies almost entirely on the graphic visual presentation.

The scenes in Tuvala mainly involve shots of lovely children leading a peaceful life in a lush tropical setting. There are many pretty shots of the islanders enjoying the Pacific Ocean, although it was a little disconcerting to see them slaughtering pigs and cleaning them in these waters. The island seems to be largely self sustaining. This may be the first independent country to slip into the sea. However, the island appears to be very narrow in many parts and is only on average 3 feet above sea level. You would not want to be around during a cyclone. These islanders have probably been living with the dangers of the sea for a very long time.

Venice is a beautiful city and one of the great tourist attractions of Europe. This segment has some of the most compelling scenes of the impacts of high tides. When the Aqua Alta comes in during the winter, Venicians break out the rubber boots and put planks across many of the streets to stay above the tide. This problem is not a new one for the city since it was originally built on a marsh. A special tax was implemented in 1604 to pay for flood damage. Venice started to sink in the 20th century due to artesian wells used for industry. These wells are now banned, but they drained water from the ground under the city. While Venice’s problems will be exacerbated by global warming, these problems go back centuries.

Shishmaref is an island of the west coast of Alaska near the Bering Straight with a native population of about 600. The islanders have been largely self sustaining, but the island has been impacted by severe erosion in recent years. The residents voted to move to the mainland in 2002 but have not yet acquired the funding for the relocation.

This movie is a very graphic representation of the impact of high tides on islands and the coast. There are many beautiful shots. However, each island is so unique that it may not be possible to draw generalized conclusions from their situations. The movie does indeed lead the viewer to think about the potential impact on our world from rising sea levels which could be caused by global warming.

Reviewed by: Rick Barrett

Distributed by Eleven Arts
Directed and Produced by KANA Tomoko
Executive Producer: KORE-EDA Hirokazu
Opening in North America this summer

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