A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash

Ein böses Erwachen - Der Ölcrash

Official film description

An unforgettable and shocking wake-up call, "A Crude Awakening" offers the rock-solid argument that the era of cheap oil is in the past. Relentless and clear-eyed, this intensively-researched film drills deep into the uncomfortable realities of a world that is both addicted to fossil fuels and blissfully unaware of the looming "peak oil" crisis. Drawing on an international cast of maverick energy experts and thinkers, directors Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack debunk the conventional wisdom that oil production will continue to climb, and instead stare bleakly at a planet facing economic meltdown and conflict over its most valuable resource. Featuring a haunting score by Phillip Glass and a fascinating array of rare archival footage, the film explores oil's rocky relationship with human progress in locales ranging from ancient Baku, Azerbaijan to dusty oilpatch town McCamey, Texas.

Amidst a dark and disturbing vision of our future, a crude awakening hints at a humbler way of life built around sustainability and alternative energy, providing a visually stunning, boldly prophetic testament which provokes not just thought but action.

Notes on the film

"A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash" by Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack hasn’t yet created as big a stir as Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth", but it is far more startling. The consequences of an oil shortage or "Peak Oil" (exceeding the maximum rate of petroleum extraction) within the next few decades will change everything fundamentally. Globalisation, everyday life, climate change, food production – everything will be deeply affected, but little action is being taken and often the matter is not even discussed.

So-called “Peak Oil Theorists” expected the peak to be reached in 2005. Optimists, such as the Swiss Petroleum Association, predict “Peak Oil” to occur between 2020 and 2030.This is a miniscule difference of 20 years for a change of such gigantic proportions in the global energy supply.

Further reviews

Thoroughness and cinematic brilliance in one. The authors deal with the mass of information cleverly from the didactic point of view while offering a startling visual impression. – 
Tagesanzeiger Züritipp

A comprehensive analysis, important message and intelligent entertainment. – Filmpreis Zürich 2006

"The Oil Crash" is compulsory viewing, not only for every politician but also for every energy consumer – and that doesn’t just mean car-drivers. This is a wake-up call we mustn’t ignore. – Thomas Hunziker auf filmblog.ch

Crude oil is the lubricant of progress. Our modern society would be unthinkable without this powerful raw material. A dependency that has developed into an enormous burden. In "The Oil Crash", Zurich director Basil Gelpke shows that the situation regarding oil reserves is far worse than assumed. This Swiss documentary has already caused a stir in the US. – SF DRS1

By collecting archive images, NASA documents and film excerpts, the director Ray McCormack and the journalist Basil Gelpkeschon predicted the 2008 oil crisis in 2006. – senscritique.com

Our Western societies maintain a strange connection between oil crises. They seem inevitable and cyclical, but we continue to believe that we are beyond all boundaries. The energy revolution is slow and subject to the pressure of the lobbies. Who will foot the bill in the end? – mrmondialisation.org

Winner – Zurich Film Prize 2006

Winner – Galway Film Festival 2006

Winner – Palm Beach International Film Festival 2007

Winner – Tahoe (Reno) International Film Festival 2006

Winner – Catalan Environmental Film Festival 2007

Technical information and screening rights...

Director(s): Raymond McCormack, Basil Gelpke, Reto Caduff
Script: Raymond McCormack, Basil Gelpke
Production: Raymond McCormack, Lava Productions
Music: Philip Glass, Daniel Schnyder
Year: 2006
Duration: 84 min
Picture format: 16:9
Language (audio): German, English
Language (subtitles): German, French
Country of origin: Switzerland, Germany
Shooting Locations: United States, Venezuela, Azerbaijan
Our age recommendation: 16
Screening rights: Frenetic (Switzerland) | Columbus Film (Switzerland) | Mongrel Media ()

More information...


  • This film can be watched for free at the top.


Main topic(s): Energy
Secondary topics: renewables fossil fuel resiliance
Mentions: oil recovery science mining economy energy oil crisis alternative crude 1973
Topic Page(s): Energy

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