With “RETURN TO EDEN” the last part of his trilogy, filmmaker Marijn Poels is briefly putting together a masterclass ‘man and nature’
He is not afraid of long distances. If necessary, filmmaker Marijn Poels (Meerlo, 1975) borrows a camper from father or uncle and tours, criss-crossing the Netherlands. To promote his films, to engage in dialogue with experts, entrepreneurs, and farmers. He flies across continents to find that one unique answer to that one question that haunts his mind.
Republished with permission. This is a Google translated version, with minor corrections, of this original story by Sietske Bergsma
With “RETURN TO EDEN” the last part of his trilogy, award winning filmmaker Marijn Poels is briefly putting together a masterclass ‘man and nature’.
When the first part of his trilogy (“The Uncertainty Has Settled”) was released in 2017, Poels breathed new life into the concept of “seek and they will find” in this way. What were we all doing with that climate policy?! Who benefited from that? Like a child learning to walk, he navigated the irrationality and sometimes even brutal lies of a deeply politicized scientific and ideological world.
He ended that movie with the ironic phrase, “Here I am, just as smart as I was before.” Poels himself could not yet comprehend what he had discovered. That the so-called consensus on global warming and the solutions to it were rattled. And that the leftist worldview, with which he had always felt at home, was hostile to climate skeptics and free thinkers. The second part of the trilogy was about the latter: “PARADOGMA”. That film was probably mainly a processing of the first shock. That he was now suddenly “right”. A label that does not mean anything to him now, he says.
Mentally, Poels is not afraid of long distances either. For three years he patiently sought openings for the (climate) debate, he tried to bridge prejudices, he was threatened by left-wing extremists (online and on the doorstep of the cinemas) and after a career with many award-winning films, he was abruptly ignored by the mainstream media as well. Unlike the raging anti-Trumper Michael Moore, who also released a climate-critical film this year, Poels’ style was always one of consideration and doubt, or as he likes to put it himself: ‘letting the viewer answer what is going on’.
No more time for climate madness
But with the film “Return to Eden” he breaks through in style. Perhaps his patience was running out, or the gravity of the situation became increasingly clear to him. Poels has become more daring in his assumptions, more progressive than many eco-modernists. Where in ‘The Uncertainty Has Settled’ he needed an hour and a half to knock down sacred houses, in ‘Return to Eden’ he breaks the climate madness down to the core in one short, funny animation video: the canonization of Greta, the hysteria about melting ice, the ‘eleventh hour’ narrative, the Sun King behavior of Frans Timmermans, the attacks on dissidents, etc. Poels seems to want to say: ‘We now know that. And if you don’t know, I don’t have time anymore. “After” PARADOGMA “Poels is back to his more journalistic side. And again, not out to make friends. He now knows the kind of friends that are of no use to you anyway. Pandora’s Box no longer closes.
“Return to Eden” is more than a sum or a conclusion that follows from the first two documentaries. Yes, it is a signature Poels film, about people and the climate, but with surprising twists. He puts the axe at the roots of the dominant, leftist idea of human progression, that in which man is (sometimes quite literally) distanced from the world. That concept is driven by managers and climate celebrities in Brussels. Who imagine themselves to be the masters of the universe.
In Enkhuizen, where I spoke extensively and photographed Poels at the end of August, he compared humanity with the fungi in a forest. “The forest thrives in chaos, and we humans are chaos, you shouldn’t want to manage, control or contain that.” The myth of untouched nature and wilderness without human interference is the real ‘eleventh hour’ theme in “Return to Eden”. In the film, an American couple is interviewed who ran a successful family business, an oyster farm. “Until the extremists came,” the man says. “Other animal species, they said, would suffer from the oysters, and whenever it turned out to be the contrary, the eco extremists came up with a different objection.” Only after the entire farm was gone would the area be done justice, the policymakers concluded. The oyster farm family had to close and went out of business. The area is now empty and deserted. The seals that were there in their day are now gone too. It is not true that humans do more harm than good. Just like the claim that raw materials, such as coal and oil, would be bad. “A raw material can never be bad,” says a noted ecologist in the film.
Humankind is no longer guilty
That confidence and belief needs a rebirth, as the impudent title suggests. A return to the oh-so-simple but almost revolutionary idea of humans in the world. That people are not guilty and harmful to the planet but an important part of it. And that people let God (or whatever you believe in) turn the knobs of everything else.
Poels, who can now often be found in his garden in Germany, where he grows fruit and vegetables and keeps some chickens, warns that if we start to see humans and livestock farming as the problem, this will have disastrous consequences. For the entire ecosystem. That we make some mistakes and that we do some harm does not mean that we have to withdraw from the world, but do better, is his implicit message.
After watching the movie, you immediately feel like starting a vegetable garden. And keeping goats. I do not think I ever had that feeling after a movie. When asked how he managed to put that positive message in an otherwise rather bleak scenario (which also deals with the coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution), he told me that ‘we as individuals are increasingly losing control over our lives, but that regaining control lies with yourself ‘.
The garden as the key to freedom
The likelihood of returning to such a garden for all of us, in which chaos and order are in balance, so in which a certain “imperfect perfection” reigns and the serpent keeps reminding us of our fall, depends on ourselves. And hopefully from the inspiring people that Poels got in front of his camera. The Ethiopian desert farmers, the Dutch entrepreneurs in Egypt, the ecologist who shows that the solution to drought lies in keeping livestock. Hoofed animals that are close together turn the earth. Loose soil retains moisture better and so grass and other crops can get a chance. The almost impossible turns out to be very simple. Cultivate desert land, prevent forest fires, redirect trade winds, and breathe new life into a continent. Making Egypt a beating heart again. That is something different from a little aimless reduction of CO2. Or attach a heat pump to your home.
The idea of the garden is as simple as it is grand, and an important key to regaining our freedom. It is indeed a fight to the death, he tells me. The alternative is that the garden of Eden will only be accessible to the elite, who will of course be chased out of it in the long run. By default and hubris. But I personally will not wait for that moment.
“Return to Eden” will premiere on September 16, 2020 in the Ketelhuis, Amsterdam (sold out). The online premiere is on September 17th on the website of Ongehoord Nederland. Also follow @marijn_poels for the latest news.
To support Marijn’s work, please watch this video and share.
Marijn Poels has an extensive filmography, several distinctions and many film awards.