Rebellion : A review of the Extinction Rebellion Documentary on Netflix

By Aditya Soyanke

Image: Getty Images

 As someone who is surrounded by climate activism and climate emergency news, very few things leave me speechless, and those things are usually bad for the environment. However, the documentary about the 2019 rebellion led by the Extinction Rebellion – a group (rather large now) fighting against climate injustice, also known as XR – had me stunned with their take on telling the struggle behind the scenes when climate emergency and the people fighting for it are concerned. The documentary tells the narratives of the initial members of the rebellion and their story on how it all started, the resistance they faced and the bridges that were set aflame in their personal lives whilst their effort of keeping the torch of climate justice ablaze. 

   The film is raw and passionate and took us deeper than I had expected. It highlights that the people we see in the news who protest and who keep their daily priorities aside to march for the environment are just like you and me. They fear being arrested, fear crossing the thin line between rebelling for a cause and being looked upon as a disruptor for nothing, fear that what they are doing might be for nothing. That fear resonated with me as I watched people struggling with everything, they have got to make a difference.

   We have heard the words “climate justice” far too many times now but the documentary made me realise why it is called that. We see the protests ad the results. The film gives us a priceless glimpse at the regular humans doing the most extraordinary things out of compassion for the planet. We see the cracks in the seemingly fortified organisation, we see the cause spearheading through those cracks even if the foundation got a bit shaky because their resolve was stronger. The documentary dives into the lives of 3 individuals in a deeper sense than others namely- Roger Hallam, Farhana Yamin and Savannah Hallam.

   It is a beautiful tale of three individuals intertwined by their passion to save the environment. The other documentaries I have come across for climate change give you the sense of urgency by giving you data, numbers and percentage of damage done, however this experience of 1 hour 22 minutes gives you the sorrow these people might feel to bring out the fire in others to fight on the cost of burning themselves out. You empathise with them because they are sacrificing decades of their lives just to have their voice heard. I, for one, felt the urge to join hands with them, take a poster and stand beside them and shout from the top of my lungs that “Yes! We want Climate Justice!”

    The film lightly touches on other issues faced by the world like racism, but never losing focus from the environmental aspect of it all. A very interesting point of the film is that even though it dives deeper in the activist’s personal lives, we only see how fighting for climate emergency is impacting them, thus keeping the nature and the need to protect it in the forefront and not the people being shown on the screen. With them, the countless others with their views on the same share the screen giving us their side of the story. These are regular humans, like us, who were doing everything they could, to bring about change. It is inspiring because it was costing them so much more- their youth, their time, their dignity and also their sense of direction in the muddled-up situations where they had to weigh climate emergency against the law. 

  I would highly recommend watching this documentary to everyone who ever questioned the intentions of the activists, anyone who ever got late to work because a rebellion blocked their route to work, anyone who ever said “There are better ways to go about this”, etc. Because the situation is dire, and their methods were extreme for a reason and that is exactly what has been bought to the audience’s notice through this documentary.

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