If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front Reviews

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½ November 18, 2014
Watching If A Tree Falls probably won't change anyone's ideology of the Earth Liberation Front's actions. But I gives us a great insight into the lives of those responsible, as well as those affected by the 'supposed' terrorist organisation. I'm giving IF A TREE FALLS a 4.5/5
½ May 3, 2014
Or The One Where You Fall In Love With Radicals...

Directors Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman do a great job of crafting a story about radical environmental activist group, Earth Liberation Front, that makes you sympathize with arsonists. As the story unfolds you still see their actions as extreme, but you begin to understand how things went so far. Eventually the story becomes a story about one man's struggle to not fall into despair, and that's when the film really shines. As Curry and Cullman capture the trial of one of the members of the ELF, you begin to really care for him. It definitely is entertaining and educational, but it also is emotionally captivating.
½ March 25, 2014
A fascinating & insightful Documentary about a subject I knew very little about & generally found that environmental culture interesting.

The story of the ELF: Earth Liberation Front and the individuals that have destroyed many buildings that have affected the environment.

It's takes a personal look at these people & their inspirations & why they do what they did. This film does leave you conflicted but I understand why they did what they did.
½ October 28, 2013
If A Tree Falls is powerful, eye-opening, and unbiased account of what is being labeled as "ecoterrorism". It remains engaging throughout and doesn't search for the easy answers.
October 17, 2013
Thought provoking docu on environmental "lets better not call it" terrorism but activism that turn radical. You are left to take sides.
August 26, 2013
"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." The story of one member of the Earth Liberation Front: his background, his motivations, his actions, and his sentence. Is he a terrorist or is he a freedom fighter? You decide. Watch the movie. Let me know your thoughts.
June 6, 2013
People who want to save the world should not be send to prison. They should be put to work at summer camps teaching kids how to build a good tree fort.
½ April 16, 2013
What are the criteria for being a terrorist? What should be the criteria for a being a terrorist? Is an environmentalist who burns down the empty office of a logging company in the middle of the night comparable to crimes committed by people like Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Is this crime to be put on the same legal shelf as those who fly planes into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people? Ask any three people and you are likely to get three different answers, after all, the people you ask probably aren't the ones going to prison for it.

Marshall Curry's documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front begins by showing us some acts of "eco-terrorism", acts in which radical environmentalists whose peaceful protests have fallen on deaf ears and turned up the heat by setting fires to lumber mills, wild horse corrals, SUV dealerships and meat packing plants. They were called The Earth Liberation Front - or E.L.F. - unorganized group of radicals willing to cause millions of dollars in property damage in the name of keeping corporate America from destroying the planet. The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to dismiss these individuals as a bunch of over-zealous ya-hoos who just enjoy watching things burn. Yet, the film is something more, as we watch it, we are taken into the lives of some of the members of the E.L.F. and begin to understand what they are fighting for. That leads to questions of whether or not their legal prosecution is really fair.

The E.L.F. get the attention of, not only their targets, but the F.B.I. who quickly labels the group as "The number one domestic terrorist threat" and launches a full-scale investigation of the individuals involved, an investigation that resembles in many ways the F.B.I.'s investigation of the mafia 50 years ago.

What is interesting is that even while we don't agree with what the E.L.F. is doing, the film gives us images that allow us to understand their point of view. We see footage of trees that have stood for thousands of years, blindly cut down. We see horse mills, with hundreds of dead horses hung from the ceiling. We see the heartbreaking sight of a group of legendary trees sawed down to make a parking lot.

We see the protesters themselves, camped out in the trees that are to be cut down, beaten and maced unmercifully by the local police. In a scene that resembles the riots of the 1960s, we see members of the E.L.F. with their faces covered marching into the streets and then beaten and clubbed. The irony is that the members of the group who are clearly guilty of vandalism haven't done any physical harm to other human beings but are being beaten down by law enforcement as if they were murderers.

Let us make no mistake, what the E.L.F doing is wrong, unlawful and is deserving a punshinment by law, and yes, jail time. The point is that this film questions the severity of the extent of that punishment. Curry's film moves very deeply into that very question and wonders about the fate of Daniel McGowen, whose story provides the film's bookends, goes under house arrest in his sister's home until his trial in which it will be decided what kind of jail time he will do for the crime of arson. He seems like a nice kid with a sweet voice, somewhere in his mid-20s who smiles a lot, but has eyes that are much more thoughtful, focused and intelligent than most kids his age. When he goes to trial and receives his sentence, we aren't surprised that it is harsh. What does surprise us is the information that McGowan is now going to spend the rest of his life on the government's terrorist watchdog list. Why? His crime, at best, results in malicious vandalism. Why a life sentence on the same list as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the architect of the 9/11 attacks?
March 31, 2013
Very interesting documentary. Nice to see the maker tried to put forward the views of all concerned.
½ February 22, 2013
If a Tree Falls is an interesting and thought provoking look into radical environmentalism and its controversial label as terrorism, but the documentary's ideas are stunted by a major focus on one member of the movement and a very minimal inclusion of the opposition's point of view.
November 25, 2012
Nobody in the movie presented an argument in favor of their aims, not to mention their methods. They failed to make the case why we should not think that they are terrorists. And since this McGowan guy was not a hugely charismatic then I did sympathize with his situation.
½ November 15, 2012
A very interesting look into the personalities behind E.L.F. and their motivations.
October 20, 2012
Undeniably compelling.
½ September 6, 2012
Definitively worth a look. Very interesting and enlightening!
½ August 23, 2012
A moving and very open and honest documentary and an insight into the mind and motivations of a so called "Eco terrorist" and the impact their actions have on people's lives.
½ August 23, 2012
Fascinating. And they would have got away with it if only that guy hadn't squealed. Not sure how he could live with himself. I would want to set fire to corporation buildings if I'd been sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray just because I wanted to protect some nature. Law enforcement in the US is brutal - it's a police state, as this documentary plainly shows.
August 18, 2012
Riot gone extreme!!! muy buen documental acerca de los ELF , movimiento verde contra las principales compañias forestales en las que no solo quedaban en quejas...tomaban acción, deciciones erroneas por el camino de la "no.violencia" pero que llegaban a la desrucción de propiedad privada...
½ August 9, 2012
What are the criteria for being a terrorist? What should be the criteria for a being a terrorist? Is an environmentalist who burns down the empty office of a logging company in the middle of the night comparable to crimes committed by people like Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Is this crime to be put on the same legal shelf as those who fly planes into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people? Ask any three people and you are likely to get three different answers, after all, the people you ask probably aren't the ones going to prison for it.

Marshall Curry's documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front begins by showing us some acts of "eco-terrorism", acts in which radical environmentalists whose peaceful protests have fallen on deaf ears and turned up the heat by setting fires to lumber mills, wild horse corrals, SUV dealerships and meat packing plants. They were called The Earth Liberation Front - or E.L.F. - unorganized group of radicals willing to cause millions of dollars in property damage in the name of keeping corporate America from destroying the planet. The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to dismiss these individuals as a bunch of over-zealous ya-hoos who just enjoy watching things burn. Yet, the film is something more, as we watch it, we are taken into the lives of some of the members of the E.L.F. and begin to understand what they are fighting for. That leads to questions of whether or not their legal prosecution is really fair.

The E.L.F. get the attention of, not only their targets, but the F.B.I. who quickly labels the group as "The number one domestic terrorist threat" and launches a full-scale investigation of the individuals involved, an investigation that resembles in many ways the F.B.I.'s investigation of the mafia 50 years ago.

What is interesting is that even while we don't agree with what the E.L.F. is doing, the film gives us images that allow us to understand their point of view. We see footage of trees that have stood for thousands of years, blindly cut down. We see horse mills, with hundreds of dead horses hung from the ceiling. We see the heartbreaking sight of a group of legendary trees sawed down to make a parking lot.

We see the protesters themselves, camped out in the trees that are to be cut down, beaten and maced unmercifully by the local police. In a scene that resembles the riots of the 1960s, we see members of the E.L.F. with their faces covered marching into the streets and then beaten and clubbed. The irony is that the members of the group who are clearly guilty of vandalism haven't done any physical harm to other human beings but are being beaten down by law enforcement as if they were murderers.

Let us make no mistake, what the E.L.F doing is wrong, unlawful and is deserving a punshinment by law, and yes, jail time. The point is that this film questions the severity of the extent of that punishment. Curry's film moves very deeply into that very question and wonders about the fate of Daniel McGowen, whose story provides the film's bookends, goes under house arrest in his sister's home until his trial in which it will be decided what kind of jail time he will do for the crime of arson. He seems like a nice kid with a sweet voice, somewhere in his mid-20s who smiles a lot, but has eyes that are much more thoughtful, focused and intelligent than most kids his age. When he goes to trial and receives his sentence, we aren't surprised that it is harsh. What does surprise us is the information that McGowan is now going to spend the rest of his life on the government's terrorist watchdog list. Why? His crime, at best, results in malicious vandalism. Why a life sentence on the same list as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the architect of the 9/11 attacks?
July 22, 2012
I was more interested in the ELF movement then the members mainly Daniel McGowan who is not all that interesting of a person.
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