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Hollywood film promotes shrinking humans to fight climate change – Echoes other calls to reduce size of people

In the forthcoming Downsizing, Oscar-winning writer-director Alexander Payne imagines a near future where eco-conscious Norwegians have developed a sci-fi shrink-ray that can zap people, such as stressed everyman Matt Damon, down to just five inches in height. Everything about this growing community of nu-Lilliputians is smaller – particularly their carbon footprint. In the film, the procedure is marketed as a quasi-altruistic lifestyle choice that doubles as a lottery win, suggesting participants will improve the planet’s sustainability as well as artificially extending their savings.

Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon in Downsizing

 The best things come in small packages… Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon in Downsizing Photograph: Courtesy of Venice film festival

Payne’s movie is a sociocomic parable that has the reassuring presence of Damon at its centre, an actor audiences have seen surviving in tough environments. But with the shrinking process irreversible, Downsizing seems to make a subtle but important point, one arguably as frightening as any large-scale disaster movie where a catastrophe annihilates humanity. Any real-world solution to our inescapable climate change problem is likely to be similarly and uncomfortably extreme – an even more inconvenient truth. Until we overcome our indifference to this monumental problem, the outlook is only going to get worse.

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