Before the Flood full movie review - Worthy successor to An Inconvenient Truth but who cares?
Leonardo DiCaprio didn't ever strike me as a cynical man. His on screen and off screen presence has mostly been too well measured for that.
So much so that when he finally won an Oscar, people seemed more elated than him. Somehow, Leo has managed to elude his fans despite his A-list status and highly popular movies. What is more peculiar is how he balances his personal life which includes his supermodel girlfriends with his public life where he is UN ambassador for environmental causes. This dual persona is amply exhibited in this documentary film which is shot simultaneously while he was working on The Revenant. How he mishmashes his Oscar winning role in the movie with this piece of eco-horror documentary for National Geography is enough evidence of his sincerity in the matter.
Nonetheless, Before the Flood stands a very good chance of being sidetracked as just another high profile celebrity effort to bring global warming to the center stage. Not unlike 'An Inconvenient Truth' that had Al Gore try the same (exactly a decade ago), Leonardo's effort has very little chance of propelling any real change. Probably he realizes that himself when he aptly says "Try to initiate a conversation with anyone about environment, they just tune off". Its available for free on YouTube and I've been telling everyone to watch it. I'm yet to hear from anyone who actually did and what they think of it. There... you have it. The all so familiar apathy.
No doubt Leo has made this film at huge personal risk. Forget the large oil interests and what they can do to his career. Whatever few friends and hot girlfriends he has, might abandon him for turning into this hippy, tree-hugging, environment doomsayer. I hope not. Lord bless his heart for he has tried to do the right thing. Well, as for the dangers of brushing shoulders with politicians and policy makers, the fact is that it doesn't always go well for filmstars. There have been many instances of that. Time will tell whether Leo steers clear of all the muddy waters there. As for President Obama, he has already packed his bags. All he could muster up on this issue is his concern that his kids would not be able to see the glaciers like he did when he visited Greenland or some such place. Oh and the more practical concern is the hoards of displaced population potentially headed towards US who may affect the way of life there. As he says "It's a matter of national security!". An opinion I'm sure many rich nations (and historically the biggest polluters) share. It's a good thing that this is on tape now because it will surely be cited in the future as a glaring example of how global leaders were out of touch with the reality while the world receded into a Mad Max like insanity. Its a shocking revelation indeed.
Leo goes to many places in the world to see firsthand, the effects of climate change. He encounters many incidents and he concludes that it is incredibly difficult to turn around now but there's still hope. Probably, you've heard this all before but the presentation is brilliant. No wonder Martin Scorcese is the executive producer on this one. There are some really high impact visuals and the writing is taught. The interviews are well shot and the people brought on board have done a fantastic job. Also, it blatantly points fingers at some companies that are not often criticized on a mainstream documentary like this. How the public reacts to this is a whole different thing. I already threw up when I went down the comments section on YouTube. Of the two things that were most interesting in the documentary, one was how Leonardo almost got scolded by a little Indian lady. Poor Leo. After-all he does come from a country where many prominent leaders out-rightly deny global warming for corporate interests. The second thing that came as a surprise was the scientific proof of how inefficient beef is, as a form of food. To those Indians who shout slogans against beef ban in India, they should really watch this documentary to judge it for themselves. Its not funded by the "Hindu" agenda if that's your concern. Cow, mother or not, does not make for a conscientious dietary option.
As to the actionable steps that we can take to prevent a catastrophic climate change, there are subtle hints throughout the documentary. Suggestions are being presented in a factual manner to really let people decide what, when and how they can best contribute to solving the issues. Environment has been ravaged by us for over 3-4 centuries and we are nearing a 'tipping point'. That much is certain. Our ever-growing needs are also certain. Poverty can't be solved without industrialization and that can't happen without polluting the environment. High cost of green technology makes it difficult to implement where it is most needed. Those who are sitting on the fence follow the ones who can afford it but those who can afford going green are reluctant to adapt because they find it cheaper to run on fossil fuels. There are a lot of catch-22s in there. At the end it becomes a black comedy of sorts where small island nations are forced to buy lands in other countries because their home is sinking right now. No more time for "10 year studies" people! Don't listen to me, listen to the Pope. Forget gay rights and human cloning. What he says about environment is right. Listen to Leo, he really did put his heart in making this film. Watch it and share it and maybe, just maybe, try to do something about it. I'll do so too.