DIRT! The Movie
reviewed by Tim Høiland
There are all sorts of things you and I take for granted every day of our lives, but few are as basic or fundamental to our very existence as dirt. This is the core premise of DIRT! The Movie, an 80-minute documentary exploring the profound impact of soil on every sphere of society.
The film is narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis and features interviews with an Indian environmental activist, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a wine connoisseur, an Austrian-born physicist, a professor of agroecology, and an array of others, all offering their unique perspectives on the irreplaceable significance of soil in our lives.
To Christians this should come as no surprise. In the second chapter of Genesis we read, "God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!" (The Message); indeed, even the name Adam means "dust." Yet too often we consider this as mere poetry, thinking of dirt and dust as nuisances to be avoided rather than the elemental sources of life our creator God intended them to be.
Given the long-standing indifference and neglect dirt has endured in the public mind, one might expect a documentary of this sort to be, well, dry. It's anything but. While the interviewees have impressive credentials on their own merits, the creators of the film went to great lengths—at times rather goofily so—to make the film accessible and interesting.
If DIRT! The Movie makes one core contribution to the environmental conversation, it is in highlighting the symbiotic relationship between people and the land. In doing so, it makes clear that, for better or worse, even the smallest of actions on this finite planet have cosmic consequences.
"The earth is the Lord's," says the psalmist, "and everything in it." Meditating on the truth of those words, with the arguments of DIRT! in mind, may help us as stewards to cultivate and value dirt for what it is, rather than simply treading it underfoot.