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Garbage Warrior

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

This interesting – and timely – documentary profiles unorthodox architect, eco-warrior and founder of Earthship Biotecture, Michael Reynolds. Since the late 1970s, the wild-haired 60-year-old has been setting up communities of increasing size in remote New Mexico locations based on his experimental, self-sufficient houses.

His 1972-built ‘Thumb House’ pioneered his use of trash items – old glass and plastic, tin cans, earth-filled tyres – and enclosed sewerage, water and heat collection systems. Since then, his radical and increasingly urgent ideas on sustainable living and his lopsided, idiosyncratic DIY dwellings – like Mesopotamian kilns – have brought him into dispute with US state and national planning and legal institutions.

Oliver Hodge provides an engaging examination of this tireless, free-speaking innovator, firstly on his building and land-acquisition projects with his wife, clients and supporters, through his battles to set up enabling legislation for experimental building and the recovery of his architecture licence and, more recently, constructing houses in the post-tsunami Andaman Islands. ‘I started all this thinking with quality of life in mind,’ says Reynolds, ‘but we’re talking about survival now.’ Hodge doesn’t provide a critical nor comparative architectural thesis.

There are no references here to Reynolds’ inspiration, the visionary architect Buckminster Fuller, for instance, or the wider practitioners of ‘radical neo-global economists’. But his film does offer a fascinating glimpse of alternative living styles and point an accusing finger at the inactivity of our sleeping global masters.

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 23 May 2008
  • Duration:86 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Oliver Hodge
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