Film review: I am Greta

Photo credit: Dogwoof.

By Anders Lorenzen

Back in 2018, 15-year-old Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg was so distraught and depressed about what she had learned about climate change, that she decided to sit in front of the Swedish parliament with a banner on Friday’s when she was meant to be at school. It was a lonely experience at first, but she was supported by her parents who understood how important it was to her. Soon others joined her and the rest is history as Thunberg became a world phenomenon and front figure for Friday’s for Future, the organisation she set up on the back of her protests and the movement quickly became global.

Behind the scenes

In the film ‘I am Greta’, we hear the story behind her determination to take action on climate change, the consequences for her family, their support for her and how much her father Svante, in particular, put on the line to accompany her trips around the world to conduct her advocacy work. 

The film is as much the story of a young person coming of age as it is a film about climate change. The world knows about those iconic speeches Greta gave at the UN, meeting national governments and so on. But little did we know about the private moments leading up to it, Greta’s determination, stubbornness, her many negotiations with her dad about the best way to do things, the challenges that come about living with Aspergers and also how Svante, as a parent, deals with that. 

It is in many ways a heartwarming film about a dad-daughter relationship, but also about a very close Swedish family, and about a girl who struggles to connect with people outside her family and finds solace in animals. For instance, when we see the Thunberg’s spending private time at home, sharing laughter but also more difficult times with her family, it is especially heartening to witness the strong relationship between father and daughter being played out. You could be forgiven to think they were any average family hanging out until they discuss the tweet sent to Greta by climate advocate and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and how to reply to it.

Conspiracy theories

The film also debunks various conspiracy theories, such as it is the UN who are funding her, that she somehow has been brainwashed into doing what she does by her parents and that her schoolwork has suffered as a result of her actions. We see the organisation of Svante and Greta preparing for one of their many European road trips and trying to do it on budget by filling up the car boot with pasta, beans and a microwave oven, so they can eat as they travel. We also learn that Greta receives a distinction for her schoolwork showing that her high-level climate activist work does not mean she sacrifices her education. 

The film also documents how unhappy, depressed and anxious Greta was prior to her activist work, she went three years not seeing anyone but her parents and her sister, but through her activism, met and became friends with other teenagers sharing her passion.

And fundamentally the film also tells the story that she was still a child when she started her activist work, her life is more than the high profile speeches we have seen reported in the news, she still throws tantrums, she still has periods where she is immature and needs the support of her parents. 

‘I am Greta’ is available on a variety of national streaming services.

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