Friday, August 24, 2007

The 11th Hour Review

Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental documentary opens in Chicago today

The 11th Hour
(Leila Conners Peterson & Nadia Conners, USA, 91 minutes)

With the financial backing of actor-turned-green activist Leonardo DiCaprio, directors Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners had the chance to make a film that would once and for all silence those who continue to claim global warming is not an issue worth discussing. However, once again, the environmentalist movement has missed a golden opportunity. The 11th Hour chronicles the last moments when change is possible and explores the frightening consequences of failing to act. It contains more than 50 interviews with experts in a wide variety of fields, including White House consultant Stephen Schneider, former CIA director James Woolsey, world-renowned scientists David Suzuki and Steven Hawking and, of course, that great beacon of scientific knowledge, DiCaprio himself (who also narrates the film). DiCaprio's constant onscreen appearance underlines the main contradiction at work within the film: While some of the most brilliant men and women of science continually plead for global warming to be treated as a legitimate intellectual topic, citing some of the most alarming and undeniable statistics imaginable, DiCaprio's self-righteous pontificating seems to say, "If you're too dumb to listen to Steven Hawking, perhaps my exposed chest and a guilt trip will convince you." Add to this the fast-paced montages of severe weather and animal abuse, and it’s safe to say the film is completely unaware of who its audience is, or should be. That being said, the film still has plenty to say, and no matter how condescending it can be at times, we should still listen. After all, this is a problem that reaches far beyond our egos, even if DiCaprio has yet to realize it. – Julian Baker