In the movie Virunga, external forces such as invading oil companies and rebel groups in the Congo cause problems for Virunga, a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park is the home of the last mountain gorillas in the world, as well as many other forms of wildlife such as giraffes and gazelles. The movie focuses on numerous issues: it focuses on the plight of the last mountain gorillas, the life of people who live in or near Virunga national park, the rangers of Virunga national park, and the conflict that results from the rebel groups. To show the plight of the last mountain gorillas, the movie depicts gorillas living in a sort of rehab center within the park. In particular, the movie shows the gorillas Kaboko and Maisha, as well as their caretaker André Bauma. Over the course of the movie the caring relationship between Bauma, Kaboko and Maisha is shown, as well as the lengths that park rangers take toward protecting the gorillas and other animals from poachers and others. The movie also shows the eventual death of Kaboko by sickness. In addition to showing the gorillas, the movie shows the plight of the park rangers who attempt to stop the oil company, SOCO. The leader of the park rangers, Emmanuel de Merode, along with the rest of the rangers, seeks to undermine the efforts of SOCO to drill for oil in Virunga National Park by sending reports of SOCO’s actions to law enforcement. Meanwhile, a French journalist seeks to undermine SOCO by getting reports of the oil company’s actions into the press. The movie uses unique perspectives (such as hidden cameras revealing secret conversations) to advance the story. With hidden cameras, the movie shows how SOCO tried to bribe park rangers to make them undermine the work of the park. The movie also shows the responses given by de Merode and the other park rangers. Finally, the story addresses the issue of rebel groups moving toward the Congo capital. These rebel groups threaten a town in close proximity to the park, and the movie shows the rangers’ response to this threat.
This movie shows the importance of conservation of natural resources and our environment, a topic that we stressed in class. Many people attempt to either downplay or completely deny climate change and its effects (often motivated by profit). As the scientist Brian Cox once stated, the question isn’t whether climate change is real. The question is whether we have the “political will” to deal with the issue[i]. Although there are many other pressing issues (terrorism, for example), the environment is essential to our existence and must be protected.
Overall, I thought Virunga was an incredibly high-quality and well-made documentary. It also paid attention to important details by using techniques such as hidden cameras for filming conversations of oil company representatives. It is impossible to create a documentary without any bias at all. Virunga is biased against oil companies, but it backs up those views by showing conversations among oil company representatives and depicting the actions of the oil company. The movie conveyed its message with incredible efficacy. For example, by showing videos of dead gorillas and elephants, it elicited anger in the audience of the movie. Also, by showing the relationship between André Bauma, Kaboko and Maisha, the movie causes the audience to feel compassion and believe that it is a necessity to save the mountain gorilla. By showing the actions of the oil company in the national park, the movie had an enormous impact. It caused SOCO to suffer attacks from the press. Although SOCO took time to leave Virunga, it was driven to leave after a year. Also, by showing the consequences that came upon de Merode and Katembo (another ranger at the park) and how de Merode was shot multiple times (and survived) and Katembo was tortured and held in prison for 2 weeks, the movie gained support from the audience for the cause to help Virunga.
Our theme for the year involves conservation of the environment and climate change. This movie is entirely about conservation of the environment and the combatting forces of the environment and the corporate world. In addition, the movie also draw attention to the necessity of saving endangered species. As the movie says, desired commodities such as oil are transient, but our environment is a resource that we need to preserve.
[i] "Professor Brian Cox Clashes with Australian Climate Sceptic." BBC News. BBC, 16 Aug. 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-37091391>.
Arjun, 12th, World History, 1990--Present
The Global Initiative Student Advisory Board, a body comprising students from each grade, reflects on the myriad ways our global themes pop up in curricular and extra curricular experiences. They simultaneously document what the school is doing and reflect our efforts so that we can continue to grow.