Leonardo DiCaprio joins the growing legion of celebrities who use their media presence to create awareness of global issues
11th Hour is the latest film to berate its audience for damaging the Earth by explaining exactly what global warming is and how humans have accelerated their own eventual extinction. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, 11th Hour features presentations — they aren’t really interviews because there’s nobody asking questions — by dozens of experts on subjects as broad as climate and economics, and as specific as fungi and aquifer replenishment.
The result is an overwhelming amount of scientific information. Thankfully, 11th Hour isn’t out to prove that global warming exists; that’s taken as a given. Co-directors Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen are out to show how much time we have to correct the problem. As it turns out, we don’t have a lot.
Almost everything of interest in the film is said in the first and last 20 minutes. In the opening, the experts give their proof that the Earth is dying. It’s our fault, and drastic changes are needed, immediately, to save it. Once this point is made, though, the evidence is piled on higher and higher for the next hour, to the point where the audience just wants to throw their hands in the air and give up.
It takes until the final 20 minutes before the filmmakers finally get around to suggesting possible solutions, though there’s nothing that other experts haven’t mentioned before — more efficient light bulbs, wind power and the like. It’s amazing that after spending so much time laying out the problem in such detail, the solutions are ploughed through so quickly that it’s impossible to absorb the information.
In spending much more time and energy on the size of the problem than the possibilities for a solution, 11th Hour makes its biggest mistake. The scale of the changes the Earth has undergone and will continue to go through over the next several years is so daunting that the film loses its audience to depression before reminding them that they can change anything. There is no denying the urgency of the film’s message, but tossing in a little bit of hope would’ve gone a long way towards winning over audiences.