It is ironic that Jennifer Abbott’s The Magnitude of All Things should begin with the fallout from raging bush fires in Australia’s extreme summer last year when we in BC have just experienced a similar scenario from the devastating fires engulfing the West Coast of the US.
When Abbott lost her sister Saille to cancer, she created The Magnitude of All Things as a tribute, to emphasize the connection between the emotions of love, loss, grief and hope. She compares her personal experience to that of the global one in this era of climate change.
The theme follows her and Saille’s journey from childhood to adulthood. At the same time, it follows the experiences of people in Canada, Australia, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK.
Vince Arvidson’s cinematography is dramatic, haunting and beautiful as it captures what is happening throughout the world.
There are no actors, apart from Abbott’s twin daughters who play her and Saille as children and Tara Samuel who plays the adult Saille. All three are convincing.
Everyone else is themselves, from a delightful Ecuadorian infant in the Sapara, to an Inuit elder in the Arctic; from activist Greta Thunberg in Stockholm to Anote Tong, former president of the Republic of Kiribati doomed to be swallowed by the Pacific Ocean by 2100, unless Abbott’s call to action is heeded.
Each protagonist tells the awful truth of their situation in different ways, yet the same. Each speaks to their love and oneness with the land, its flora and fauna.
The Magnitude of All Things screens as part of the digital offerings at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival from September 28 through October 7. Visit viff.org for tickets and information.
Editor’s Note (24 September): the review was edited to remove inaccurate quotes and attributions.