How to Change the World, the origin of Greenpeace and contemporary environmentalism

How can we change the world? Where can we start and how can we go on to communicate our own message, encouraging people with our same values to act? How to Change the World by Jerry Rothwell, honored at CinemAmbiente 2015 (member of the Green Film Network) with the Audience Award among the International Documentaries, tells a story which is also a successful attempt to answer this kind of questions.

The movie is an editing of unseen archive material: since 1970s, when some friends sailed in protest into a nuclear test zone in the US, years and years of shots chronicle the adventures of the organization that is nowadays worldwide known as Greenpeace.


Skilled communicators aware of the power of images, these pioneers filmed since the beginning their demonstrative actions: that is the origin, documented and captured on 16mm film, of contemporary environmentalism. Using unseen archive footage and interviews with the charismatic key players, Jerry Rothwell has created a documentary which is also a vibrant, deep reflection on the enormous struggle to balance the political sphere and the personal one.

The story is framed by Robert Hunter’s first-person narrative. Irreverent journalist and early leader of the organization, through actions, choices and contradictions offers an intimate portrait of himself, of the group’s originals members (so heterogeneous to indiscriminately include scientists and hippie musicians), and of activism itself.


The Greenpeace founders’ reflections on their own past speak to us about dilemmas, not only of environmentalism, but of all movements for change, and also of the dilemmas of growing up and growing older: the tension between youthful idealism, ego and courage on the one hand, and maturity, pragmatism and political manoeuvring on the other. the director writes in a note. “At a time when we need to engage with problems on a global scale, hopefully this story of one small group of people can get us thinking not only about how we act individually but in partnership with each other”.

A must-see movie, a chance to get to know at first hand the genesis of Greenpeace and- why not?- finding some suggestions to change for the better, day after day, the world that is hosting us.