is some news: Capitalism and climate change are so interwoven that an end to
the former is the only way to tackle the latter. That’s the lesson that this
informative, occasionally exciting and totally partisan documentary about UK
activists wants you to take away.
During a couple of years of high-profile
direct action in the UK and Denmark, director Emily James embeds herself with a disparate group of (mostly)
young, committed greens who, by the end, are also fervent anti-capitalists.
The 29 camera operators get right in where
the action is – on the streets of London and Copenhagen, into power stations
and banks and airports.
Pre-demo rituals are laid bare; actions are
planed like heists, superglue and bike locks are the weapons of choice. A place
on the evening news is the goal. Arrest is an occupational hazard and All
Coppers Are Bastards.
Revelations from the front-line are few –
London police are intractable and often thuggish; Danish police are politely
sinister; there’s actually a massive gap where we assume democracy is – and
post-capitalist solutions involve familiar utopia, rather than the horror that
it surely shall be.
This is a celebratory documentary, where
comparisons between camping on a roundabout and Rosa Parks are made with a
straight face. The lines between good and evil are simply and clearly drawn.
Which side are you on, it asks, making it clear that separating your recycling
into the right boxes isn’t enough. Glue yourself to a bank, or lock your head
to an oilrig.
In case this sounds too earnest, James
shows she has an eye for a story, shoehorning some genuine entertainment in
among the serious business. During a push to occupy a power station an
attempted arrest ends in slapstick, and there’s a pleasingly dry moment where a
group of performance protesters introduce irony to a seemingly grateful Danish
Of recent infiltration by the UK secret
service there is no mention, even though revelations to that end have been a
propaganda victory for the green movement. Convictions relating to the
attempted power station occupation were quashed, with judges ruling an
undercover officer arguably acted as an agent provocateur.
Fair play to him, it’s not easy getting the
middle classes to rise up.
Ah, but it’s easy to knock. Self-aware
eccentric Marina, making tea for everyone; Cambridge undergrad Sally; the Plane
Stupid campaigner with the 50 quid haircut; that an anti-capitalist film has a
credit for Branding Design.
But see the residents of a village near
Heathrow airport, and the effect on them of a decade-long battle to save their
homes being flattened so another runway can be built, and consider whether this
is ineffectual gap-year anarchism.
Just Do It will, more likely than not,
preach to the converted. If it persuades just one person to change their views,
whether on the merits of direct action or on the broader capitalism versus
planet debate, its makers will probably see that as being worthwhile.
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