Poetic Nonsense

Now, check out this segue ...
The uniforms worn by the early 19th-century naval officers in Jane Austen's Persuasion, and the sails on their ships, were most likely made out of the fiber Cannabis sativa, better known as hemp. In Dazed and Confused, the pothead that the title fits best holds forth at one point about how George Washington was a hemp farmer. Turns out he was right--the Founders saw a fine future for hemp as a cash crop in this country. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was first written on hemp paper.

These fascinating tidbits, and many, many, many others about hemp, are there to be had from The Hemp Revolution, filmmaker Anthony Clarke's zealous documentary, which trumpets the plant's uses--for paper, textiles, medicine, clean-burning fuel, seed oil, food, and, by sheer coincidence, recreational drug. Clarke also chronicles how thehemp industry in this country was destroyed not out of concern over marijuana abuse, but because competing industries such as timber saw hemp as a threat.

As cinema, The Hemp Revolution is negligible, but it is a watchable, interesting crash course in the hemp lobby's position. Inevitably, Clarke's film contains clips from Hemp for Victory, the famous WWII-era Agriculture Department film (which was suppressed after the war). The Hemp Revolution, too, is nothing if not a propaganda film. Its message, summed up, is that Hemp Can Save the World. Well, this certainly would be fine with me, but I'd guess that, for now, it must remain a lovely pipe dream.--M. V. Moorhead

Jane Austen's Persuasion: Directed by Roger Michell; with Amanda Root, Ciaran Hinds, Sophie Thompson, Susan Fleetwood, Corin Redgrave and Fiona Shaw. Rated PG.The Hemp Revolution: Directed by Anthony Clarke. Unrated. (At Valley Art Theatre in Tempe.)

Total Eclipse: Directed by Agnieska Holland; with Leonardo DiCaprio, David Thewlis, Romane Bohringer, Dominique Blanc and Nita Klein. Rated

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