Hey, you knowwhat would be great? If the good folks who made the documentary The 11th Hour trimmed it down to five essential minutes and tacked it onto the previews before every remaining summer blockbuster, then onto fall’s Oscar-bait. At the end of the preview-short-film, Leo Di could proclaim that the full-length version was available online, free for the masses to watch in the comfort of their hopefully solar- or windtricity-powered homes.
As it stands, the filmmakers are preaching to the choir. Who wants to pay eight bucks for an hour-and-a-half of talking-headness, besides those already convinced that Planet Earth is “behaving like an infected organism?” Furthermore, by choosing to provide crucial information only to those who can pay for a movie ticket ($8 is a day’s-worth of food for many families), the heads’ damnation of consumerism seems all the more hypocritical, as do the charges against the government for overlooking the Average Jane and Joe for the benefit of the corporate few. (Speaking of corporations, The 11th Hour is distributed by Warner Independent Pictures, whose parent, TimeWarner, spent $4,502,954 lobbying on behalf of itself and its subsidiaries in 2006, according to Sourcewatch.org.)
The upside of all this is that arts critics all over the country are reviewing The 11th Hour, publishing insights and criticisms in their dirty, tree-killing newspapers and magazines. Did I say upside? Please recycle us. (Or read us online, in your windtricity-powered home!)
The 11th Hour is the first film from sister filmmakers Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s first foray into narration. Global Warming, among other post-industrial human-induced global crises, is their worthy lecture topic. A montage of disasters commence the film — droughts, floods, war, starvation — conveying that, yes indeedy, the sky is falling.
The speed at which it is descending is put into perspective by scientists, seated before one of those awful, crinkly, dark-blue, school-picture backdrops, who explain the relative youth of the human race, and the wee amount of time that’s passed since the industrial revolution brought on a culture of waste. Already the earth’s temperature has risen by about one degree, and the population is growing exponentially. Without a shift toward more earth-friendly energy and materials, Homo sapiens sapiens and a substantial chunk of other species are going to be at risk of extinction. (Will the post-earth then resemble Mars or Venus? The heads don’t all agree.)
What everyone seems to concur on is that the earth, and some forms of life, will go on via adaptation even if people destroy themselves. (Unfortunately, all seals will have been clubbed before they can acclimatize.) Our ability to recognize our situation and choose an outcome for our species makes us special, the heads say, and this — the 11th hour — is a meaningful time to be alive. •