A beautiful, naked, self-confident woman, sensually cradling...a cod? Greta Scacchi, star of the ‘80s screen classic Heat and Dust, has found an arresting way to draw attention to the plight of the oceans today, joining Sting, Elle Macpherson and Alicia Silverstone to highlight the perils of overfishing.
Scacchi posed naked with the fish as part of a campaign based on the documentary End of the Line: the new eco must-see and hot celebrity cause.
The film, which debuts this weekend, is already being called the "new Inconvenient Truth" in a reference to Al Gore's environmental hit.
“Nothing prepared me for the impact of the documentary,” actress Greta Scacchi says. “I came out of the screening shaken by the gravity of the situation."
End of the Line draws attention to the rapid depletion of fish stocks, and the danger to the seas and environment of continuing to consume endangered fish species. With such overharvesting, the movie claims, the oceans will have no fish by 2048.
Researched and filmed over two grueling years in affecting fishing grounds by the prominent British environmental journalist Charles Clover, it's become an instant talking point and also sparked controversy about the exotic dining habits of some prominent figures, who are being taken to task for munching their way through endangered species.
Scacchi was shot by the cult photographer Rankin with other well-known faces—Richard E. Grant, Terry Gilliam—embracing fish, for an associated poster campaign and exhibition.The actress says, “The first round of images are very striking weird, witty, very saucy and some sensual.”
Last week to promote the film, the actress hosted hosting a glitzy dinner at one of London’s "sustainable sushi" restaurants, which was attended by Alan Rickman and Colin Firth.
Clover, a longstanding environment campaigner, denies that this support may be a mere flash in the (eco) pan. "Greta's doing this because she understands from seeing our film that fish matter, both as themselves and to healthy oceans. Lose fish and the poor world starves. Healthy fish populations make a healthy planet," he says.
Scacchi adds,“Nothing prepared me for the impact of the documentary; I came out of the screening shaken by the gravity of the situation."
Other celebrities are following the save-the-fish crusade. Society double A-lister, Kate Goldsmith—a Rothschild by birth married to supersmart entrepreneur Ben Goldsmith—is carrying the banner in London society.
She co-wrote a strongly worded protest letter threatening to stop dining at London's Nobu, part of the international franchise co-owned by Robert De Niro, unless it pledged to drop endangered bluefin tuna from its menu. Nobu is one of the London’s most glamorous dining haunts, frequented by appearance-conscious names (and also remembered as the venue where Boris Becker conceived a love child in the broom cupboard with a Russian model).
The restaurant is now considering whether to remove bluefin, the latest delicacy to be placed on the "overfished" list, from its menu, after bold-faced names on both sides of the Atlantic, including Alicia Silverstone and Sting, joined the protest.
Those indifferent or ignorant to the plight on their plates now often run a gauntlet of environmentalists monitoring their dining habits.
A Greenpeace activist outside Nobu recently blogged about visits by a member of the Sugababes pop group and Little Britain comedy star Matt Lucas, urging them to stay away until a bluefin ban is imposed.
The pressure appears to be working: The Pret a Manger sandwich chain recently announced it will stop serving all tuna, and managers have been sent to watch the film.
Clover denies charges that eco-documentaries like End of the Line may overstate or exaggerate their case to raise awareness.
"This is meticulously researched: We can stand by every statement it." His only disappointment is that Al Gore would not endorse the film. "We asked him to give us a one-line statement of support. For some reason, that didn't happen."
Anne McElvoy writes the main weekly political column on domestic and international issues at the London Evening Standard. She has published two books on Germany, The Saddled Cow: East Germany’s Life & Legacy in 1992 and she was co-author of the memoirs of the spymaster Markus Wolf, Man Without a Face .