"This documentary should rightfully double up as a canny handbook on how to conduct civil disobedience."
No Tory would admit it, but in terms of projecting Britain on to the global stage Extinction Rebellion, or XR, has been one of the country’s most successful exports during the Brexit years. It was founded by organic farmer Roger Hallam, environmental campaigner Gail Bradbrook and a core of others in 2018, and among their first major actions was the blockading of four central London sites in April 2019 – a 10-day coup engrossingly chronicled in this documentary by Leigh Bloomfield, which should rightfully double up as a canny handbook on how to conduct civil disobedience.
At one point, a police officer impressively misses the point and reads out an inventory of the economic cost of the Waterloo bridge blockade to an indifferent-looking XR activist. The organisation was founded on the recognition that this level of disruption is needed to make governments act on climate change, and Bloomfield minutely documents the difficulties of sustaining such obstructionism in the field. As one campaigner recognises, it often boils down to “confidence”. In the moment, a ratcheting-up of police presence and a dip in morale can prove a tipping point, as we see when some stressed bridge protesters start retreating to the main Marble Arch site. There’s a lot for activists to learn in the strategic feints and readjustments on show here.
Read the full ★★★★ Guardian review here.