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"The Deal" -- A Peak Oil "Day After Tomorrow"?
Jamais Cascio, 18 Jun 05

TheDeal.jpgLast summer, The Day After Tomorrow added some momentum to a growing conversation about the effects of global warming. While the science of the movie was, at best, murky, many of its themes (of human-caused climate disasters, the intransigence of politicians, and the heroic role of scientists) were sufficiently on-target that quite a few environmentally-focused websites and organizations used the film as a way to spread their own messages. At the time, we suggested that The Day After Tomorrow might be the first of a trend of movies with an environmental edge.

The Deal may be the next in that trend. The movie is set a few years in the future, with the US at war with the Confederation of Arab States, gasoline in hitting $6/gallon and the economy on the verge of collapse. Reviewers call it dark, dense and cynical; it's not as sprawling nor as effects-laden as The Day After Tomorrow, but in its own way, it's also a movie about the end of the world.

In The Deal, Christian Slater is a rising executive in a Wall Street investment firm; Selma Blair is a recent hire, a Harvard graduated ecological activist convinced to give "changing the system from within" a try. A shady energy deal unravels into something worse, and soon the Russian mafia, big oil companies, and big finance pull out the knives. The Deal mixes car chases, politics and a typical Hollywood dose of attractive people in danger. The film was written by Ruth Epstein, who worked for 10 years on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs, with advice from oil and gas industry expert David Leuschen, and is said to be dense with information -- as Roger Ebert put it in his review, ' It's not in every thriller that you hear someone say, "Oil is a fungible commodity."'

The website for The Deal has links to the usual film goodies -- cast bios, trailer (5.7mb WMV), the like -- but is also filled with links to books and websites about the oil and energy industries, with a particular focus on the "peak oil" argument. One look at the website shows that the movie is not a major studio production; Epstein and director Harvey Kahn decided that they didn't want the film changed by studio executives, so raised money on their own to make the movie. As a result, it isn't in wide release: it's currently playing at a few theaters in Boston, Chicago, LA, New York, San Francisco and DC. Reviews from major papers are linked on the site, and most are positive. The Oil Drum, a peak oil issue blog, reviews it as well, and while it has some reservations about the film, it too has an encouraging take.

Whether the film gets wider release than just a handful of big cities depends on how well it does this weekend. If you're in one of the target areas, you may want to check it out. If you do, please post your reactions in the comments for this post.

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Comments

It's about time someone made a mainstream movie about Peak Oil!

Such compelling Hollywood thrillers with well-known actors provide an ideal vehicle to deliver this important issue to reach the general public.

This is very important, since this development is real and has received way too little coverage from the mainstream media. Peak Oil will be increasingly affecting our lives in the short term! Heck, we are already noticing it now! $60 per barrel and rising, people...

What we need is public awareness.

It's unfortunate (though financially sensible) that this movie will be released in the Blue States first. But given enough popularity and revenue, I'm sure this movie will soon be realeased elsewhere in the US and the rest of the world for everyone to see.

People who would like to know more about this topic are encouraged to look for "Peak Oil" using Google.


Posted by: alternative energy now on 20 Jun 05

While it might help it depends on the actors the script and the director involved. More messages have been killed by the messenger then the other way around.


Posted by: wintermane on 21 Jun 05

It's too bad that this movie isn't really about peak oil. The movie focuses on the conflict between rich Wall Street executives in air conditioned offices and limousines.

The people in the movie didn't seem to be suffering at all from the expensive oil. There was a single scene with a fight breaking out under a $6.50/gallon gas station billboard, but the movie still showed streets crowded with cars. There were no complaints about the higher cost of food and other items that would definitely accompany higher oil prices.

Had I not known about peak oil before watching the movie, my curiosity about the subject would not have been sparked. It would have just seemed like another movie about corporate greed and buying things from people you're not legally allowed to buy from.


Posted by: Dan on 21 Jun 05



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