This documentary about the early years of Greenpeace is a measured, even-handed profile of an organisation with its own firmly-established identity. Framed by the memoirs of co-founder Bob Hunter, which are narrated in voiceover, the film often hews to his version of events. But the story is broadened by a good range of talking heads, and filled out with ample archive footage, some of it extraordinary. Thus we’re introduced to the colourful cast of ecologists, shroom-eating hippies and I Ching-reading mystics who launched the organisation in the ’70s, and we’re guided through its evolution from ramshackle pressure group to slick global operation.
The filmmakers clearly identify with their subjects, but they aren’t blind to Greenpeace’s flaws. The bruised egos and internecine fighting make for a sobering corrective to the founders’ utopian rhetoric (as well as good drama). Nor are we spared the fallout from their members’ more controversial practices, such as their disruptive stunts and strident language (viewers may question one activist’s equating of seal hunting with rape). ‘How To Change The World’ tells an engrossing tale intelligently.