Matt Damon’s ‘Promised Land’ Addresses Controversial Environmental Issue

Published 3 years ago by , Updated April 9th, 2012 at 5:40 pm,

Matt Damon anti fracking Matt Damons Promised Land Addresses Controversial Environmental Issue

At first, the premise of Gus Van Sant’s upcoming feature The Promise Land seemed like it would tell the humbling story of a man who experiences great change when he returns to his hometown. Co-star and co-writer John Krasinski plays a rival executive in a story described as “Capraesque,” with Rosemarie DeWitt playing the female lead.

But new details are emerging on the film, revealing that the story isn’t as simple as it may seem. According to a story over at Politico (via Vulture), the plot of the movie centers on the dangers of fracking (not a Battlestar Galactica reference), a controversial method of blasting rocks with sand, water, and chemicals to extract natural gas.

Now, the movie has been completely turned on its head as it won’t be just a simple story about two men at conflict, but something much greater. Damon himself has been known to be quite vocal about his political views, and has penned the rewrites on the draft originally written by Dave Eggers and is co-writing the script with Krasinski.

If Away We Go and Where the Wild Things are an indication of how wonderful Egger’s writing ability is, then I can’t wait to see what The Promise Land has in store for us. Throw in Krasinski, Damon, and Sant’s writing styles, and The Promise Land is sure to be one powerful political drama.

The reality of fracking some recent attention thanks the 2011 Academy Award nomination and Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for GasLand, a documentary film written and direct by Josh Fox, featuring archived footage of political leaders. Although The Promised Land is not a documentary, it and the key players involved will help drive the anti-fracking message.

The Promised Land was originally going to mark the directorial debut of Damon, before he handed that job to Sant, whom he previously worked with on Good Will Hunting. No release date has been set for The Promised Land.

Sources: Politico & Vulture

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  1. Believe me, a lot of us in Pennsylvania who remember Battlestar Galactica use the word “fracking” to refer to the use of water to get at natural gas and as a swear – “FRACKING WELL!”

  2. This sounds like it will be be very cool and timely. I love the talent involved.

  3. I actually just read the GQ article from Dec./Jan.? about this writing mash up. I’m originally from Youngstown, OH where this is a prevalent topic (there have been around 5-6 earthquakes since they started drilling). Glad to see a film is being made about this and I hope it will be factual so that it educates, as well as entertain people.

  4. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to check out Gas Land too.

  5. Guess who’s not gonna see this movie……*This guy* B-)

  6. hmmm, sounds like a good film. I’l check it out.

  7. Sounds like more environmentalist crap to me. Drill baby drill! Hey Matt since you don’t feel you pay enough taxes write the IRS a check! Yeah I’ll hold my breath until he writes them a check!

    • So, you don’t like to live in an intact environment, with clean & fresh water, air and all this “crab”?

      I know some cosy places for you to live:
      Tschernobyl (Russia), Fukushima + Minamata (Japan), Bhopal (India), Love Canal (USA), Aral Sea (Central Asia), Seveso (Italy) and you surely have made a vacation by the sea near an oil spill (at least you can omit the sunblocker).

      • lol… ;)

      • Why the personal attack for an opinion? Damon is known for opening his mouth when he shouldnt when it comes to his political views. Some of us just dont like it when the rich push their agenda with only half the facts. Actors use far more resources than you or I, including Damon. Some of us see this as hipocracy, thats all. :)

        • My comment has nothing to do with Damons opinion or lifestyle.
          I agree with you when you say there is much hypocrisy in the world.

          My comment was directed to Wes’s statement “Sounds like more environmentalist crap to me. Drill baby drill!”
          This was just silly.

          The carefully dealing with our environment can`t be crap in any possible way, when we want to live healthy.
          What will Wes do with all his saved taxes when he dies by cancer at the age of 50.

          • The carefully dealing with our environment can`t be crap in any possible way, “if” we want to live healthy.

            • Of course, there is a certain member of a Klingon race that seems to always get away with murder.

              It’s not murder to kill a worthless petaQ!! I would be doing the universe a favor!!


              • “It is not clear that intelligence has much survival value. Bacteria do very well without intelligence and will survive us if our so-called intelligence causes us to wipe ourselves out in a nuclear war.”

                ~ Stephen Hawking

                • I said less brain than a bacteria, so a bacteria is more clever indeed (it will never destroy it’s own living environment);)

                  The problem with the intelligence of most people is:
                  1. They only use it to maximize their own profit at the cost of everyone and -thing.
                  2. They don’t use it at all.

            • I’am so sorry, but I am allergic against brainlessness.
              I’m getting some sort of Tourette syndrome when I read such things.
              I think he needs to think first and write then, since he lives in an environment, too.

              • That was an answer to mongoose!

      • Right on! You got It!

        Try to live without clean air and clean water and food!

  8. Is this going to be another movie like “The Informant?” Which was about corruption in the lysine manufacturing industry and one of the dullest movies I have ever seen?

    • Agreed.

    • Agreed.

    • Just wondering if you have any stats to back up that claim of the film industry creating more pollution than any other industry out there. I would be surprised if it created more air pollution than the meat industry (which, by the way, creates more air pollution than all of transport combined – and that’s pretty easy to find references for)

      • You’re absolutely right. The meat- and woolindustry with all the animals creates more pollution than all other industries, vehicles and households together,
        It’s no joke, but in fact they are farting methane out of their mouth, because the most of them are ruminants and that is the main reason for global warming (I know, the most of you are thinking there is no such thing as global warming, the polar ice and glaciers are melting just for fun) ;).

          • I agree that the weather-system of earth is very complicate and you’re right when you’re saying that there are natural weather-effects involved, but we amplify them with our ehazardous greenhouse gases to an unpredictable amount.

            It is measurable, that the Arctic, Antarctic, Greenland- and glacier-ice is melting more and more. This causes a rise of the waterlevel (except the Arctic ice, because it swimms already on the sea).

            All the Greenland-ice alone causes a rising by 6-7 meters of the sealevel (it is physics, you can calculate it).

            The melting of the Arctic causes a decrease of the atlantic water-temperature, so the warm gulfstream is moving to south or collapses and that is causing a decrease of the air-temperature in Europe to an ice-age (the stream is the heater of Europe).

            So, in this very realistic scenario you have an ice-age although there is a global warming simultaneously.

            No one knows exactly when this will happen, but it will happen, it is only a matter of time and we increase and accelerate it. The world population could probably avoid this, but we need to handle our environment with a little bit more care.

            PS: Of course there are some CEOs, lobbyists and politicians, who are spreading confusing ambiguity to serve themselves and make some respectable researchers unreliable.

            • I forgot: 1,33 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century is very much in a short time and accelerates within every few years and caused many phenomena already.

          • And I say let’s freak out, for our kids sake, because otherwise nothing will ever change!

  9. When the rich start to walk like they talk I will start to take notice.

  10. Extraction of “gaz de schiste” (or “gaz de shi*” as some people here are referring to it now) is a very serious problem in Quebec.

    The process has a very dangerously high risk of permanently polluting the aquifer. It is also dangerous with risk of explosion and toxic materials for people living in the area.

    So this is FAR from being “environmentalist crap”. It is a serious issue.

    now, to those complaining about “rich actors”… I don’t see any of YOU putting your money where your mouths are and making a film about this.

    Talk about hypocrisy (which is how it’s spelled, by the way).

    • Eggs. Ackley. :)

  11. Maybe more people should watch GasLand before hurling insults and talking about Hollywood’s environmentalist “crap”. I’m not saying it gives the *complete* story, but you could make a more informed opinion after you’ve seen people who can light the “water” that comes out of their kitchen taps on fire, and who haven’t had access to clean drinking water outside of store-bought bottled water in a long time, and have seen their family members get sick (and probably die) from their tainted drinking water.

    • It’s the same as when in the middle ages people threw their garbage out the windows because they didn’t know any better and eventually were forced to learn about sanitation when a plague came about as a result. Or learning that rotating crops would keep the farmer’s soil from being depleted so families didn’t starve during the winter, it’s simply science in the name of health and survival.

      Matt Damon probably could be accused of bias, but it’s likely after he studied the facts and came to an informed conclusion. Guys like Rush Limbaugh form an opinion before they ever look at facts, if they ever do at all, except to cherry pick information to support their own foregone conclusions. That is the monumental difference between bias and prejudice.

      • Movie does not have to be based on facts, if the story can attract people to spend money,they will make it. The environment topic is hot at moment, I guess it would be a good oppotunity for movie maker to use it to make some money.

        • I’m sure the goal in making this film is to raise awareness of the dangers of fracking and the corporations who nonetheless choose to profit at the expense of the health of communities and families. If Matt Damon wanted to just make money he’d be making more Bourne-type films.

          • I guess even Matt Damon sometimes needs heating, cooking, his film is projected in cinema using electricity which is most likely generated by gas or coal. He wouldn’t still enjoy the benefits of something if he really hates it that much?

  12. Yeah, I guess you win the argument.

    If Matt Damon uses heat and electricity then he must be a hypocrite for raising awareness about corporations that are willing to look the other way while innocent men, women, and children are poisoned or sickened or risk birth defects that would otherwise be completely preventable as long as it brings in more money for the aforementioned corporations.

    I don’t want to hear about any evidence or facts, I just know that fracking must be safe or worth the risks because they told me so.

    • ‘Gasland’ is far from an honest assessment of the fracking process, and while the factual inaccuracies could fill pages, I’ll stick to the most visually arresting one – lighting tap water on fire.

      The area around those farms affected were found to have high concentrations of seeping methane, and that methane leached into the aquifers and water tables that those affected drew their water, using their own wells (~100-400 feet deep). The investigation that resulted from these claims found that the occurrence of flaming tap water in the area was widely known well before the first gas well was ever drilled, and was a result of the above natural phenomena, not gas being released from the producing wells.
      Now, the natural gas formations being drilled to in the area are within a cotton-valley shale formation that is app. 11-12 THOUSAND FEET DEEP, and long before the fracturing completion operations take place, the well bore has been cased in pipe and cemented-in, to varying thicknesses through each and every geological formation above the target formation, per EPA rules to prevent just that sort of contamination. The rules are in place, and when followed result in the safe operation of millions of wells across the country.

      I’m not opposed to stricter oversight of the drilling and operation of these wells, but before you start running your mouth about an industry taking advantage of people – get your facts straight, and find out what the rules really are. Josh Fox is an opportunist leach, and like those featured in his movie, saw an opportunity to make a name for himself and make money doing it. Yes, a lot of the farmers that sign leases don’t start out as the most sophisticated people, but as soon as the company comes knocking with a lease, you can literally see the dollar signs in their eyes as they gladly sign. They are human, and flawed, and greedy too. Remember that.

      • Human, flawed, and greedy farmers don’t deserve to risk being poisoned more than anyone else, and that hardly proves that Fox made this movie for fun, personal attention, and profit first. And telling me I started ‘running my mouth off’ is kinda like me telling you that you sound like a gas industry apologist. Except that I just can’t be bothered to stoop that low…

        • You’re completely missing (or ignoring) my main point!

          No one deserves to be poisoned – greedy or not! But that is not what was happening – the methane seeping into the water tables in the area was from coal beds, hence the term ‘coal bed methane’, not from the deposits being tapped into by the O&G companies thousands of feet below. This was borne out by the investigations following the release of the movie, but didn’t make nearly as compelling a headline. Furthermore, it was also determined that reports of ignitable tap water had been well-known in the area long before the gas companies came to town, and the farmers were, not to put too fine a point on it, lying.

          Second, I should have qualified my ‘greedy’ label better, to wit: The farmers signed Oil and Gas Leases, in exchange for both immediate bonus payments, as well as promised royalties when the wells started producing. It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to take the money and sign a contract, but when it comes time for them to uphold their end of the bargain they look for any way to get out of it. The ’08 economic collapse, combined with disappointing production of the wells in the area meant that many of the farmers were hurting financially, especially those that blew their bonuses and took on debt thinking their ship had come in. When an oil and gas company came knocking, they saw dollar signs, and when the price of natural gas dropped by over half along with the stock market, so did their pie-in-the-sky dreams. So they play up the fact that they can light their faucet, conveniently forgetting that they’ve been able to do so for at least the last ten years, rationalizing it because ‘the big bad oil company’ didn’t make them rich. They feel owed, and they are going to get their fair share. It’s human nature, and it’s ugly, but it doesn’t fit the narrative, so it isn’t as widely reported.

          What Josh Fox and his interviewees did was fraud, no matter how they justified it to themselves.

          Like I said, I am IN FAVOR of tougher enforcement of environmental regulations, because they are some damn good ones on the books already. But using a misleading hollywood movie to further that agenda is a huge disservice to the environmental movement, as well as the people affected, and completely undermines those trying to understand the real risks of petroleum development.

          • Also, it is worth noting that as it was originally written, ‘Promised Land’ was a simple story about country boy Damon turning his back on the evil oil company and following his heart and his conscience.
            Damon and Krasinski wrote the movie together – except there was one huge problem: Anti-fracking activists have been increasingly shown to be making up their evidence, twisting the facts and outright lying in their claims. From the findings that the water in Dimmock, PA wasn’t really contaminated, to the outright, intentional fraud of Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers, who hooked a water spout up to a gas line to make it appear that flammable gas was coming from a water hose in a video they released.

            So, what to do? A hasty re-write of the movie, that re-frames Krasinski’s environmentalist character as a fraudster who was PLANTED BY THE OIL COMPANIES to DISCREDIT THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT. The conspiracy theory ridiculousness is almost too much to bear, and shows just how opposed to the truth these two really are. If the facts don’t fit the narrative, twist them until they do.

            There are very real environmental issues with natural gas drilling, but they don’t make good drama, or good movies. Lying to make it seem otherwise is going to set back decades of work by legitimate, ethical researchers who have devoted their lives to the creation of empirical data that is the backbone of environmental regulation. Movies like this one will only serve to make the general public more distrusting of those researchers, more anti-science, and we will all suffer from more lax regulations as a result of the backlash this farce will create. Damon’s ego is hurting us all, but he’s too dumb and too proud to realize it.

            • And did you intentionally forget the part about how the judge in the Wolf Eagle case had to recuse himself?

              The oil and gas lobby sure is pouring a lot of money into discrediting this film…

              • Just to show I’m a good sport, no – I did not ‘forget’ that the original judge got in a ton of trouble for letting his ego get the best of him and bragging about his involvement in the case. He was completely opposed to the Wolf Eagle party, (probably because they were frauds) and told anyone who would listen about the judicial beatdown he was going to give them.

                That shows a stunning lack of judgement on the part of the judge, and also a lack of impartiality. It is deplorable, and while the judge may have also wanted to curry favor with the powerful interests involved in the case by being aggressive in his tactics, I fail to see how the bias of a judge can determine the veracity of the facts presented in the case.

                Just another example of how eager people are to get in bed with oil and gas companies only when it might benefit them. Kind of like signing a lease for a ton of money to the family farm, only years later to try and squirm out of it when it’s time to actually drill.

                • ‘Probably because they were frauds’?

                  You’re just parroting a bunch of ‘facts’ you got off the Heritage Foundation website. Next you’re going to tell me that the folks who made this movie were disingenuous because part of their funding came from the UAE.

                  • Please, just stop. You haven’t even tried to make one cogent point, only strawmen and personal attacks. I am not some wingnut, and I don’t read the Heritage Foundation – nor drudge, nor Fox Noise, or whatever else you want to smear me with.

                    Believe it or not, there are millions of people in this country who live around natural gas production, and have taken the time and energy to acquaint themselves with the realities of how the industry functions. I am no fawning apologist for the oil and gas industry, but when compared to the current alternatives, I do believe that natural gas is an important source of relatively clean energy, especially compared to coal.

                    You can cling to your tired boogeymen, and believe that everyone involved with drilling wells is trying to poison Americans, destroy the environment and steal from landowners. But the computer you are typing on is powered by electricity, most likely generated from the combustion of coal or natural gas, and that by buying and using it, as well as driving your car, you are funding the very alleged environmental destruction you claim to stand against. Unless you have a better solution for the energy needs of this country, realize that you are an incredibly deluded, raving hypocrite.

                    • I had no idea I was raving.

                      So, discussion on this thread ceased almost five months ago. Just out of curiosity, what caused you to seize on it now?

  13. Matt Damon is an anti-military jerk off!! This film is just another way to make a buck and is sponsored by the Arab’s imagine that!! Hmmm why would they sway public opinion. I say research fist before you believe this jerk or President Dictator. Im all for safety but choose to research instead of going to the theatre because im too lazy. I believe this film just as much as “Dora the Explorer” being a nature expert.

  14. I’ll start researching fist right away…!

    • You actually never did respond to SG’s rather well reasoned assertions. Instead, you made a series of sneering ad hominem attacks.

      Typical Eloi. Attitude instead of thought, and you don’t know the difference.

  15. I would like to see a list of the actors and actresses in this movie that shows what they drive how the heat their homes what fuel they cook with do they use propane grills do they have any solar windor wind power in their homes etc.

  16. This movie looks to be quite interesting, I look forward to its release in Australia. And it’s great that the comments here are so stirred up – it’s about time people started thinking about what we’re doing to this beautiful planet of ours and realising that the great dollar ain’t so great after all. Personally I do not like the way these big corporations get their way (bribing the governments, and using secrecy and lies with the landowners and general population, and spending millions on false advertising propaganda)and I do not like what they are doing to the land. Even if they did compensate us and the governments for the damage up to at least 20 years down the track it would never return our quality of life to us and our grandchildren.