Leonardo DiCaprio’s most recent release, “Before the Flood,” exceeded expectations of the Hollywood actor’s authenticity and inspired audience members to decrease their carbon footprint in a powerful but beautiful fashion.
Interlaced with interviews and footage from heart breaking news clips of environmental destruction, we watch DiCaprio travel the world and speak with professors, scientists, politicians and even major religious leaders.
Some have lost their faith in humanity’s ability to save the Earth, but some still believe it is possible to significantly slow down the Earth’s inevitable doom.
As the designated United Nations Messenger of Peace, Leonardo DiCaprio is compelling, humble and resilient as the film’s guide and narrator. Yes, while traveling with him, it is very easy to see DiCaprio as the ridiculously privileged celebrity that he is.
However, donned in a tee shirt and jeans for the majority of the film (man-bun and all) he provides us with the chance to see him not as a lofty Hollywood actor, but as an equal, learning along side us.
He admits that his “…footprint is probably bigger than most.” He even goes so far as to include footage from the press degrading and insulting him for creating a documentary such as this one.
I do understand their reasoning of course. There are certain points in the film where we feel DiCaprio acting for the camera as opposed to having genuine reactions.
His interview with Barack Obama feels slightly awkward, as his positioning is very stiff and he never once breaks eye contact. As a successful film actor, it must be very difficult to turn off these traits.
One would expect the producer of a documentary about climate change to be scientist, professor or any other profession that champions green initiatives.
DiCaprio argues this critical subtext by providing more footage spanning back from the very beginning of his career in 1993, proving his undeniable dedication to environmental causes.
In 1998, DiCaprio visited the White House to speak with Al Gore about global warming and soon after, started his foundation. He narrated the 2007 film “The 11th Hour.” He marched with 400,000 other concerned citizens in the “People’s Climate March” in 2014 and has donated millions of dollars to prevent overfishing, protect Nepal’s tigers and create marine preserves in the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, it only helps that our narrator is a Hollywood actor.
DiCaprio’s soothing yet haunting voice over draws in each viewer into his world. He brings more people to the theatres and brings another level of reliability.
He even brings a few humorous moments to the film as DiCaprio is clearly outside his element, interacting with wild animals and complex technology.
At one point, while visiting the Tesla factory in Nevada, he even exclaims: “Whoa! Cool robot!” Upon observing oil extraction from up in a helicopter, he states: “It looks like Mordor, from Lord of the Rings.” The audience could not help but to chuckle at these quick, child-like expressions.
The scientific information on sustainability is reliable and easy to understand. Our biggest challenge is the division of our nation on the subject of global warming. A “war of disinformation,” funded by the Koch brothers, and other special interest groups have stalled environmental legislation in Congress.
The silver bullet for climate change would be a carbon tax. Much like the raised tax on cigarettes, the carbon tax would nudge people in the right direction in terms of social responsibility. Economically, with the price raised, demand will diminish slightly along with the country’s carbon emissions.
The film does fall into a pattern. Scientific data is given, an interviewee gives their thoughts on the matter, DiCaprio exclaims his disbelief and then few words of hesitant hope to give a sense of inspiration to the audience. Multiple sources claim “Before the Flood” is 93 minutes, but truth be told, the film gives the impression of being around two hours long.
However, despite its length and the more than occasional technical difficulties, I must admit that I was never disinterested or bored. The director of photography (Anotonio Rossi) should be nominated for an Oscar for the stunning nature shots, including some taken underwater of coral reefs.
Shaky camera work makes us feel as though we are walking next to DiCaprio and his acclaimed interviewees. Animation is used several times to demonstrate statistics and how the Earth is viewed from space before and after pollution. I felt the dynamic music in my heart, for it stirs something in you – something that influences you to make a change.
As the film comes to a close, footage of DiCaprio’s speech to the United Nations brings me to tears. He speaks with the grace and dignity of a professional; someone who has seen and learned. I have high hopes for this documentary and the affect it will have on our nation.
“The world is now watching,” says DiCaprio in his 2014 declaration, “You are the last best hope of earth or you and all of the things we cherish, are history.”