While the hushed tones of Fox’s would-be naïf commentary slightly grate after a while, his film’s images, contrasting natural beauty with industrial horror show, are bracingly effective indeed.
Retrieving the gas means injecting corrosive combustible chemicals – noxious stuff you wouldn’t want anywhere near the water table – to blast it up to the surface. Yet this process is legally exempt from the Clean Water Act or any form of disclosure, thanks to 2005 legislation introduced by VP Dick Cheney – former CEO of Halliburton, the corporate behemoth extracting huge profits from gas exploration.
Having shown us unfortunate citizens on the receiving end, and environmental agencies sitting on their hands, Fox builds up a surge of outrage, yet leaves us longing for a few more retaliatory punches launched at the higher-ups. Still, setting the context for individual involvement may be no bad thing, and his touching reverence for the land itself certainly underlines the high stakes at play.