The Hemp Revolution

on October 20, 1995 by Pat Kramer
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   Hemp, the controversial plant with an abundance of uses, is the focal point of this data-packed documentary. Directed and produced by Australian Anthony Clarke (who helped make "The Panama Deception," also a Tara release), "The Hemp Revolution" aims more to inform than to entertain; top-heavy with facts and figures, it tends to lag. The intent here might be legitimizing the subject, but the film lacks focus and its interviews drag on long past most people's attention span; concision should've been the key.
   Clarke addresses virtually every angle imaginable in his study of the hemp plant, including its historical significance for clipper ship sails and its versatility of use in the manufacture of paper, clothing, food and even fuel. But the film doesn't gather steam until the subject of hemp's most notorious byproduct--marijuana--arrives about 20 minutes in. This is likely the reason most people are watching, but Clarke buries his lead. To aid anti-drug laws, efforts have been made through the years to restrict hemp's access to the public. In documenting this point, the movie examines the politics of the issue, with Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush among the opposition voices. Juxtaposing the paranoia and restrictive policies inhibiting hemp's use with descriptions of the plant's usefulness make this segment the film's most interesting. Still, "The Hemp Revolution" seems more suitable for a PBS audience than for mainstream moviegoers looking for entertainment on a Saturday night.    Directed, written and produced by Anthony Clarke. A Tara release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 72 min.
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