NPR logo Michael Ruppert, Explaining The Coming 'Collapse'

Movies

Michael Ruppert, Explaining The Coming 'Collapse'

Michael Ruppert in 'Collapse' i

He Believes It, Even If You Don't: Michael Ruppert seems deeply convinced of the "conspiracy facts" he airs in Collapse, but his tears aren't proof of his prophecies. Collapse Movie, LLC hide caption

toggle caption Collapse Movie, LLC
Michael Ruppert in 'Collapse'

He Believes It, Even If You Don't: Michael Ruppert seems deeply convinced of the "conspiracy facts" he airs in Collapse, but his tears aren't proof of his prophecies.

Collapse Movie, LLC

Collapse

  • Director: Chris Smith
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

Not rated: Alarmism, profanity

With: Michael Ruppert

Watch A Clip

'They Knew This Was Coming'

So this is how the world ends: Not with an action-movie bang, but with a guy sitting in a darkened room, chain-smoking and warning that "things are falling apart."

The guy is Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer and noted conspiracy theorist — although he says he deals in "conspiracy fact," not theory. In Collapse, Ruppert states things that are clearly true, makes claims that are fairly plausible and delivers predictions that no viewer without a time machine can adequately evaluate.

The film was directed by Chris Smith, who previously made the documentaries American Movie and American Job, as well as an engaging but little-seen feature, The Pool. But the movie's style derives from Errol Morris, who perfected the enlivening of talking-head interviews with inserts from newsreels, stock footage and industrial films.

Even the soundtrack suggests a Morris documentary; Didier Leplae and Joe Wong's shimmering music is indebted to that of Philip Glass, who scored The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War.

By Smith's reckoning, Ruppert's stature rests on his charge that the CIA was involved in dealing drugs in the U.S., and on his forecast of last year's Wall Street tumble. (He was right about the latter, although hardly alone; he also has some company on the CIA trafficking accusation, but that subject is murkier.)

A one-time freelance writer and the former publisher of a newsletter, From the Wilderness, Ruppert believes that human civilization is about to be violently downsized. The cause will be the declining availability of oil, although Ruppert mentions other threats, from genetically engineered foods to the lack of a gold-based currency.

He says "peak oil" has already been reached, meaning that petroleum supplies will continue to fall and prices rise until gasoline, plastic, pesticides and other oil-derived products become unaffordable.

"In the new human paradigm," Ruppert announces, "everything will be local."

He's probably correct — to a degree. But no one can predict how quickly the oil economy will deflate, or what will replace it. Ruppert is right to denounce ethanol as "an absolute joke," but he can't anticipate what other, more energy-efficient alternatives will be developed.

Off-camera, the director suggests that Ruppert discounts "human ingenuity." His subject doesn't really answer, but Smith is on to something. Ruppert won't consider possible innovations; he sees everything through the prism of failed policies and near-obsolete technologies.

PND: Michael Ruppert in 'Collapse' i

Sitting in a room that looks like a bunker, Ruppert recounts his career as a radical thinker and spells out the crises he sees ahead. Collapse Movie, LLC hide caption

toggle caption Collapse Movie, LLC
PND: Michael Ruppert in 'Collapse'

Sitting in a room that looks like a bunker, Ruppert recounts his career as a radical thinker and spells out the crises he sees ahead.

Collapse Movie, LLC

Collapse will be available via cable's on-demand FilmBuff service starting Nov. 6, the same day it opens in New York. If that seems hasty, it might be because some of Ruppert's assertions are already losing their edge.

He argues, for example, that Third World and former Soviet Bloc economies were hit harder by Wall Street's 2008 meltdown than North American and Western European ones. In fact, many of them have revived faster than expected. And while the U.S. financial system still needs reform, Ruppert's claim that "the whole economy is a pyramid scheme" is a stretch.

If nothing else, while watching Ruppert, you'll believe he believes this stuff. He bursts into tears when discussing the need for "community," and requests a break when he's overwhelmed by the intensity of a new insight. But Ruppert's emotion, like his evident command of economics and energy policy, doesn't certify his direst prophecies.

So get a bicycle and start growing your own food. It can't hurt. If the collapse doesn't happen, you can still credit Ruppert's forebodings for helping you lose a couple of pounds.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.