Return to Eden Film Review

★★

Directed by: #MarijnPoels

Written by: #MarijnPoels

Starring: #MaddieAkkermans, #PaulHawken, #RosaKoire

Film Review by Lucy Clarke


The future looks bleak for humanity. After COVID passes, we’re looking at Brexit and a recession. On top of that, there is still the continuing crises of drought, starvation and worldwide poor nutrition. Return to Eden takes us on a journey through various continents and explores what humans can do to fix the problem of desertification. Produced by the climate-denying Canadian based group, Friends of Science, Return to Eden also rejects the idea that humans are to blame for the warming planet. Initially, this documentary focusses on how to improve our world by changing how we farm and produce food instead, and allowing us, by default, to return to paradise.

With the obnoxious sticker for Friends of Science in the corner of the screen, it is hard to deny that Marijn Poels’ Return to Eden is unbiased. While this documentary initially interestingly explores how communities can and should change the way that they farm, this film doesn’t have a strong focal point. One minute, we’re in Germany looking at soil, and an hour later, we’re in California, where it is suggested that humans are being pushed into megacities to create vast no-go areas, appropriate for roaming predators. We watch a somewhat grounded documentary – only to be interrupted by a cartoon which makes no narrative sense. As soon as the cartoon flickers onto our screens, the documentary takes a turn for the worst. This documentary flitters between showing new ways of farming to theories disproving climate change. As a result, this film is jumbled at best, and juvenile at worst.

The decision to have Marjin Poels host adds to the unfocused nature of this documentary. Think of some great documentarians, from Marcel Ophuls to Louis Theroux. Either the documentarian, like in Ophuls’ case, decides to remain out of the frame and focuses only on the talking heads, or in Theroux’s case, they are an active journalist throughout the film. It is Theroux’s job to ask difficult, uncomfortable and probing questions. Poels fails on both accounts. He is continually in the frame, yet we as an audience haven’t even been properly introduced to him. We have no idea why he is there, what his thesis is or what he’s trying to find out. When Rosa Koire suggests that both 9/11 and climate change are part of a government hoax, Poels doesn’t question it. He certainly doesn’t question her, and these theories presented to the audience as pure fact. Poels never disagrees with his interviewees. His presence feels increasingly redundant, and this documentary is never as rigorous as it could be.

Desertification and the future of farming are thought-provoking topics worthy of discussion and documentaries. However, Poels' attempt is messy. This documentary initially seems fairly credible but this is not the investigative journalism it aspires to be.


Watch the trailer here: