Earth Days: 4 of 5 stars

Sentinel Staff Writer

A big piece of modern American history is explored in Robert Stone’s Earth Days, which details the origins of the modern environmental movement.

Yes, it’s global, now. But there was a time when a few not-quite-ex hippies (someday to be labeled “tree huggers”) and scientists and an astronaut and futurists and conservationists and a Republican member of Congress thought it would be a good idea to rally support for cleaning up the country’s land, air and water with a “Day.”

Using pluck, members of the “back to the land generation” (post-Woodstock) picked April 22, 1970, and came up with a killer slogan.

“April 22 is Earth Day, the beginning of the end of pollution.”

Stone’s film interviews the principals, from street organizers to the fellow who founded The Whole Earth Catalog and captures the confluence of events -- Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the first images of the Earth taken from the moon, the disappearance of the bald eagle, all of which came to a head when Earth Day broke out in 1970. The far-reaching impact of that first Earth Day along with the clean air and water and endangered species legislation it started is detailed in Stone’s thorough and revealing PBS-style blend of interviews and stock footage.

Earth Days will be on TV’s American Experience after a theatrical run in later April.

Screening at: 12 noon, Saturday, March 28, Regal; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, Enzian.