Keeping dams out of the Grand Canyon, uncovering massive toxic dumping at Love Canal, fighting the devastation of Brazilian rain forests, stopping the slaughter of whales — “A Fierce Green Fire,” from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mark Kitchell (“Berkeley in the Sixties”), affords an overview of more than five decades of environmental activism. It could easily have been overwhelming, not to mention depressing. For every ecological battle won, there’s a tougher one around the corner.
But Kitchell’s film, inspired by Philip Shabecoff’s book of the same name, comprehensively tackles a sprawling subject and keeps things loose and lively. The film is divided into five parts, each with a different focus and narrator. The first section, narrated by Robert Redford, charts the birth of the environmental movement in America. The nascent Sierra Club spearheaded opposition to the creation of dams in Dinosaur National Park in the ’50s and in the Grand Canyon in the ’60s.