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If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

HD   PG Closed Captioning


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About the Movie

In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front - a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat." For years, the ELF had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado. Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film interweaves a vérité chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. Along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 32
  • Fresh: 28
  • Rotten: 4
  • Average Rating: 7.0/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: The film's sobriety and carefully balanced arguments make it an exemplary piece of reporting, although its emotional heat rarely rises to a boil. – Stephen Holden, New York Times, Jun 21, 2011

Fresh: It's tempting to watch If a Tree Falls doc about a scraggly group of ecoterrorists with a chip of skepticism on your shoulder. Yet the film creates a fantastic moral ambivalence. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, Feb 21, 2012

Fresh: A gimlet-eyed glimpse into the roots of terrorism and the politics behind its prosecution. – John Anderson, Variety, Jul 22, 2011

Fresh: The gripping documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front offers an intimate look at the radical environmental group. – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, Jul 22, 2011

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

A hero is born....thank you for what you did..

I had never heard of this organization, Earth Liberation, but I deeply appreciate what they tried to do and the sacrifice this one young man has had to endure to pay for the wrath of the capitalist society who are willing to absolutely destroy the earth for one last dollar.

I deeply deeply disagree with the cutting of old growth forest....really who can cut down a 500 year or even thousand year old tree? Apparently lots if companies and without a backward glance as long as there is a buck in it for them. Shame on them!

And shame on the US government for treating this hero so shamefully....but it IS America, so I, for one , am sadly, not the least bit surprised.

This is a must watch for everyone...

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
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Customer Ratings