Sierra Magazine Reviews Gasland Part II
“The F-word isn’t in the dark anymore,” says Josh Fox, the director, writer, and narrator of the anti-fracking film Gasland Part II at the beginning of the deeply unsettling second installment of the Gasland series. The activist/filmmaker resides in the home his father built the year he was born. Located along the Delaware River, the area has been riddled with natural gas drilling operations, making Fox the perfect person to tell the tale of fracking and the shroud of mystery that surrounds it. His home is in the foreground of this brewing debate as it sits above the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit, also known by the infamous nickname “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.”
The film is an eye-opening case study of towns and counties all over the country impacted by fracking and its side effects. Places like Dimock, PA, Dallas- Fortworth, TX, Pavillion, WY, and even Los Angeles take center stage as they happen to be unfortunate enough to be located over the natural gas deposits that opened the floodgates for natural gas extraction. Fox uses chilling visuals like children playing in open drill fields, notorious flaming water hoses that one resident says “never fail to light,” and laundry lists of unpronounceable chemicals that are found in these peoples water supplies. Hearing the disastrous symptoms and conditions of locals in these communities only prolongs the documentary's lasting impact on its viewers.
In addition to excellent cinematography, also done by Fox, bluegrass music helps set the tone for the film. As if to put you in the backyards of these once-untouched places that are often found in America’s deep forests and backcountry landscapes, the soundtrack of the documentary effectively draws the viewer into a state of shock that they can not shake even after the credits roll. This is a useful tactic by Fox to ensure activism on this issue goes beyond just watching the film.
The families represented in Gasland Part II come from all walks of life; blue-collar farmers, wealthy entrepreneurs, well respected scientists, and town Mayors all face off against large gas companies that often blur the lines of collusion and corruption with the government. As gas companies fight to protect their profits, and families fight to protect their health, Fox draws battle lines with his divisive film. “These are terms of war,” he says, and here is his call for us to join the fight.