Earth and the American Dream

Director: Bill Couturie
Screenwriters: Bill Couturie, Ken Richards

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


Like Bill Couturié's earlier works, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam and Gammon Threads: Stories from the Quilt, his latest documentary, Earth and the American Dream, is a powerful onslaught of words and images which shocks us into confronting uncomfortable truths. Chronicling the white man's pursuit of the American Dream, Couturié uses everything from surreal nature photography to rare archival footage to trace the destruction of the natural world. Brought to life in a running voice-over by actors including Mel Gibson, Jeremy Irons, Lee Grant, Anthony Hopkins and Bette Midler, the dialogue is primarily composed of quotations and historical readings. What makes this film so fascinating are the sources Couturié has chosen. He juxtaposes the liberal with the conservative, the natural with the industrial, and the worldly with the personal. There are comments from Christopher Columbus, Chief Seattle, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry David Thoreau, John James Audubon, Uncle Sam, Henry Ford and many others.

As a unifying visual theme, Couturié concentrates on mass production and mass destruction. He seems to have discovered and filmed an endless amount of bulk and waste. There are piles of cut logs, thousands of cars and metal parts, railroad tracks, assembly lines and people everywhere. By the time the film is over, you cannot believe how many people inhabit this planet, how much destruction we have caused, and how irreversible the damage appears. Couturié's message resonates. What are we going to do, and when do we plan to do it? There is not a minute to waste…

Sunday Jan 24 10:00 1m
Egyptian Theatre

Tuesday Jan 26 10:15 pm
Holiday Village Cinema II

Wednesday Jan 27 8:00 pm
Sundance Screening Room

Thursday Jam 28 3:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

Saturday Jan 30 1:30 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III


— Catherine Schulman

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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