A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Am Greta profiles Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose single-minded activism on climate change has transformed her into a globally recognized symbol of the movement. This documentary is more about the girl, her personality, and how she's dealt with her meteoric rise to fame than it is about the issue of climate change itself. Greta will be a role model to many young people, including kids with Asperger's or autism spectrum disorder, shy or "different" kids who've struggled to fit in, and those especially concerned about the urgent problem of climate change. She shows that through perseverance, courage, and integrity, and with the hearty love and support of parents, young people can make a difference. Other adults are seen on television and social media critiquing Greta in cruel and hurtful ways, including calling her "mentally ill" and a "brat." Language includes "s--t," "ass," and "damn." While it's not explicitly stated in the movie, Greta had issues with disordered eating in the past, and there are some references to her being too busy to eat or being picky about which foods she'll eat.
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What's the story?
I AM GRETA follows Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg during the period in which she came to international prominence. The film combines home videos with intimate footage of Greta, often accompanied by her father, as her one-person school strike quickly grows into a global phenomenon. We learn about Greta's childhood and aspects of her Asperger's syndrome, from Greta as well as from her parents. We see Greta at home, with her pets, on the road, and eventually crossing an ocean, as she's invited to speak at marches, strikes, and summits around the world.
Is it any good?
What I Am Greta lacks in dramatic tension, it makes up for in character. The documentary will find a natural audience among climate activists and those curious about the young girl from Sweden who launched a global youth movement, though it's decidedly more about the latter than the former. Viewers' curiosity will be sated with footage of Greta's home life, parents, school, early start as an activist, and some interactions with peers. The film explores her personality and the weight of responsibility she feels for both the climate and her symbolic status, and it touches on a challenging childhood that included years of selective mutism and social isolation.
There are clips from some of her biggest speeches and marches, including the U.N. summit where she angrily condemned adult inaction on climate change in her now famous "How dare you" speech. There's also quite a fascinating, if selective, montage of clips from TV commentators and world leaders questioning her authority, calling her a "brat" and "mentally ill" (in reference to her Asperger's syndrome) and telling her to "shut up" and "grow up." All along the way, including on a daunting wind-powered boat trip across the Atlantic, her father is with her, reminding her to eat, beseeching her to let go of the details of a speech, convincing her to go home to rest. Greta remains laser-focused throughout, underscoring her suggestion that the world might actually focus better on issues like climate change if everyone "had a little bit of Asperger's."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issue of climate change fueling Greta's activism in I Am Greta. What do you know about how the climate is changing and how that affects humans? Where could you go for more information?
Greta's one-person climate strike transforms in a short amount of time into a global movement of student protests on almost every continent. Can you imagine yourself making such a difference on an issue? What would that issue be for you?
Greta has Asperger's syndrome. What do you know of this syndrome, and how do you see it affecting Greta in the film? Do you know anyone with Asperger's? How are they similar to or different from Greta?
- On DVD or streaming: November 13, 2020
- Cast: Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Director: Nathan Grossman
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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