Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack's nonfiction treatise Crude Awakening joins Maxed Out, An Inconvenient Truth, and other recent documentaries devoted to unearthing and exploring forces that are untying the connective threads of contemporary society. The subject at hand is crude oil - specifically, the depletion of petroleum from the Earth, in an era when consumption threatens to exceed supply.
The overtone of the film is speculative but admonitory; Gelpke and McCormack suggest that if western society fails to reinvent itself altogether (via such innovations as hydrogen-powered autos, and a decreased reliance on fiscally unsound Middle Eastern nations), economic cataclysm is not simply likely but inevitable.
To underscore this point, the filmmakers contrast obscenely naïve shorts from the 1950s that promise depthless oil supplies, with contemporary warnings from geologists who suggest that the bottom of the well is close at hand. McCormack and Gelpke also interview such subjects as former OPEC secretary general Fadhil Chalabi and Bush advisor Roger E. Ebel.