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“Be a person with a vision and make a commitment to it,” is one of the last things Marion Stoddart says in her documentary film Work of 1000, which details Stoddart’s life and work in healing one of the most polluted rivers in America.
The film opens with images of the formerly polluted Nashua River, a tributary in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The water fluctuates from a rusty red to a thick, disturbing mass of yellow—not unlike silly putty. Stoddart’s commitment looks to be a daunting one, and causes audiences to wonder how a 1960s housewife could transform so completely into a powerful environmental activist.
Work of 1000 is more than just a documentary detailing the success of environmental activism in changing things for the greater good; it is a story with a message. Stoddart experiences her fair share of setbacks, from political outbursts to death threats and angry townsfolk working for the paper companies causing the river’s pollution. Simultaneously, Stoddart faced the challenges of mothering three children.
These elements are what make the documentary different from others. The film doesn’t explain the logistics of the cleanup or the specifics of how a river of rusty red and silly putty transforms into a beautiful scene of greenery, clear water, and children swimming. It is the story behind the success — that a person, a housewife in the 1960s — can do the work of a thousand and make a difference in the world. It’s a powerful message; one we can all learn from.
Vox Rating: VVV – Make the Matinee
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