‘Collapse’: the ‘fiscal cliff’ was just the beginning

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If you enjoyed the 2011 Wall Street drama “Margin Call” you might want to check out Chris Smith’s riveting 2009 documentary, “Collapse” (MPI Home Video), even though it’s the sort of unalloyed feel-bad movie that leaves a viewer wondering what to do with the information it contains.

For 80 minutes, Smith gives the floor to former LAPD cop and investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, who takes us through his step-by-step doomsday scenario to be caused by what is known as “peak oil” — that fast-approaching moment in time when we have consumed more than half of all known oil supplies.

Prices will spike and panic will mount, Ruppert tells us, as it dawns on the “civilized” world that the foundation of our whole mechanized way of life is beginning to collapse.

Smith and Ruppert point out that “oil” is not just the stuff that runs our cars but the ingredient that is bound into a staggering array of products and devices (four gallons for each tire on your car).

With the rise of China and India as consumers of oil — for much of the 20th century individual car travel was a largely American luxury — the reserves of crude will be tapped out even faster.

While Ruppert is a lucid and seemingly sane figure, Smith doesn’t make it clear why the man and his philosophy warrant feature length examination.

The filmmaker seems to have been inspired by Errol Morris’s stylish Oscar-winning, feature-length interview with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara — “The Fog of War,” or McNamara’s mea culpa — but that was a movie about U.S. history with a major American political figure.

Ruppert has a slight air of me-against-the-world self righteousness that left this viewer wishing there was more sourcing for his dire pronouncements.

And, if the man is right, there is virtually nothing any individual can do to counteract the global forces that are inexorably leading us to the end.

Joe Meyers

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