On Friday, September 20th, 2019, a group of Bronx Science students gathered under the flagpole to begin the march for climate action in Foley Square, inspired by the leadership of the then 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, who was featured in the documentary, I Am Greta (2020), directed by Nathan Grossman.
What sets aside Thunberg’s activism from others is her youth and her passion for saving the planet. Susan Ye ’23 said, “It is incredible to see someone so active, yet so young taking on the issues of the world.” I Am Greta encourages young generations to take action for their own future rather than leave it in the hands of adults. When addressing the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Thunberg said, ‘This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”(I Am Greta 1:29:50- 1:29:59).
I Am Greta shares the story of a teenager rising to the occasion and calling for action for a problem that has been widely noticed but rarely acted upon. Greta’s strike for climate change began when she realized that nothing was being done to directly address the problem. At the Summit, she said, “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money” (I Am Greta 1:30:11- 1:30:22).
The documentary followed her trajectory since she had been striking every Friday in front of the Swedish parliament. Thunberg’s main goal was to direct enough attention to include the climate crisis into the country’s political agenda and highlight its importance. Since then, the documentary crew has followed her through her personal setbacks and public successes in reaching global recognition for her activism.
I Am Greta does a particularly good job in displaying the difficult decisions that Thunberg makes in order to uphold the image that she has created for herself. Her biggest challenge was deciding to travel to New York City for the United Nations Climate Action Summit via a zero-carbon yacht across the Atlantic, in order to support the cause of eco-friendly means of transportation.
The boat was cramped, and violent surges of waves crashed into the deck, making the scene gloomy and cold. The turbulent and dangerous voyage took 15 days to accomplish and left Thunberg exhausted, both physically and emotionally. She tearfully remarked, “It is such a responsibility. I don’t want to have to do all this. It’s too much for me” (I Am Greta 1:25:12 – 1:25:28).
The filmmaker captures Greta’s emotions with a series of camera movements and close-ups, making the scene the pinnacle of the film. The viewer is able to feel all that Greta feels and is able to sympathize with the difficulties of her journey, creating an inspiring and worthwhile documentary.
This is not only too much for Greta, but for any teenager who carries the weight of an adult burden. Through the media, she has been perceived as the face of youth climate activism, and the responsibilities that come with it takes a toll on her. Despite the struggles that she faces, Greta assumes her role selflessly, determined to further the movement and create real change. Through Greta’s activism, the documentary shows viewers the impact students’ voices have globally, and the importance of giving them a platform to speak out on their concerns and create confidence to fight for their beliefs.
Throughout Greta’s journey, the audience shows how their actions value regardless of age and understand that a single action can spark a movement. Grossman’s film wonderfully captures a historical moment portraying various generations demanding climate justice and reform.
To watch I Am Greta on Hulu, click HERE (subscription required).
Despite the struggles that she faces, Greta assumes her role selflessly, determined to further the movement and create real change.