Review by Dan Skip Allen
Climate change is a real thing in this country and the world. The problem is convincing people that it actually exists and that they need to do something about it. What they need to do is the big question. The Ants and the Grasshopper is a documentary film by Raj Patel dealing with these problems and facing them head-on, focusing on those affected most by this worldwide crisis.
The film starts in Malawi, Africa, where Anita, Winston, and Esther all live and work — some farm, and others just sit around and watch. These people live a difficult life where everything is hard, because they don't have enough water to water their crops, which is one of the only forms of sustaining their lives and their children's lives. When the filmmaker suggests they go to America to talk about climate change, two of them jump at the opportunity to spread the word about their struggles and why American farmers affect them.
Typical documentary fare this one has talking heads, but the way it uses the talking heads is different from other documentaries. It makes the main characters visit various farms in Wisconsin, Iowa, California, and Maryland to sit down to break bread with all the said farmers featured in the film. This showed these people's ways of living and their ideas about climate change, and how their ways of farming could affect other people.
An aspect the film doesn't go into as much is again a topic that isn't talked about enough: the Green New Deal, which Senator Jeff Betkley of Oregon co-sponsored. Everything else in the documentary leads up to this part of the film, but doesn't hammer home how important it truly is to get people behind this deal. What we eat and where it comes from isn't something we normally think of, but maybe we should. It's an important thing in our lives going forward.
An aspect I rather enjoyed about the documentary was the fish out of water part of it. These women came over to this country to try to spread their agenda about climate control, but what they sometimes find is strange ways of doing things that are hard to get their heads around. Like tractors, segregated neighborhoods, and how one farmer could use deviated rainwater to make his crops grow in different areas even when rain is scarce. This was surprising to these women who live such menial lives.
The title of the film hit me hard once it was used in conjunction with the story being discussed in the documentary. Ants have a reputation for moving large amounts of weight, but it's because they work together. That's why a handful of ants were able to carry a grasshopper. If a few people were able to convince many people about how important climate change is, then more and more change can happen here and abroad. This was an important film in that regard.
The Ants and the Grasshopper hits theaters on March 31.