Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front": Eco Warriors' True, Tragic Tale 

Wednesday, Jul 13 2011

A true-life outlaw tale as stirring as it is tragic, the story of the Earth Liberation Front offers a Don DeLillo–flavored draught of high-proof righteous excitement. You can hear the pitch — young, fiery 21st-century hipsters living double lives, burning down corporate buildings to protest environmental exploitation, leading to their own doom — and I should write this book right now. Marshall Curry's new doc limning the monkeywrenchers' career takes us through reams of fascinating drama, from the first heroic forest-saving protests to the reactive police violence and resulting dead-of-night firebombs to the core group's implosion after the FBI tightens the net. The focus is on Brooklyn-born hyperecologist Daniel McGowan, who spends most of the film under house arrest, waiting for a potential life sentence, and that's too bad — with a head-spinning tangle of ethical questions and political razor wire to deal with (without a single injury, are the ELF proper terrorists? Must violent protest be effective to be right? Does property damage discourage capitalistic greed or just cost consumers?), Curry settles for McGowan's dread of prison and how boo-hoo-sad everyone he knows is.

About The Author

Michael Atkinson


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"