In The 11th Hour, actor-turned-activist Leonardo DiCaprio issues a global warning: global warming is rapidly reaching the point of no return, causing irreversible damage to the only planet humankind knows as home.
Hence the films title and transparent message: take action now, before we pass that point of no return and our fragile planet can no longer sustain human life.
DiCaprio produced, co-wrote and narrates the documentary, but hes not our only tour guide through what is essentially a travelogue of earthly disasters– severe flooding, record rainfalls, hurricanes, acid rain, drought and the resulting famine, record-setting heat waves and all the other climatic calamities we see reported so frequently on the news, we hardly take notice of them any more.
Joining DiCaprio on camera and bolstering his impassioned presentation (and plea) with their considerable authority are former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking and former CIA chief James Woolsey, among 50 additional experts with impeccable credentials.
Using their testimony, co-directors Lila Conners Peterson and Nadia Conners piece together a convincing argument that those catastrophes reported on the nightly news arent isolated incidents, but a chain of events that will ultimately result in Earth becoming as arid and barren as Mars.
Part of the problem, say the experts, is that there are too many of us, and not only do we continue to multiply at an alarming rate, we fail to marshal our resources intelligently. Our excessive consumption of fossil fuel is, they say, a core problem.
Along with the expert interpretation, the film presents a history of humankinds use of energy, which indicates when and how weve gone wrong, and where we are now– in what might be termed the age of environment, a crucial time in which, they say, we either change our behavior or commit species suicide. Earth itself will survive. Humans will not.
In The 11th Hour, global warming is more than an inconvenient truth. In movie metaphor, its like that Texas-size meteorite hurtling towards Earth in Armageddon– only in this nonfiction scenario, humankind is the element of destruction and Bruce Willis, sure as hell, isnt going to save the day.
Instead, the celestial Leo DiCaprio is using his star power to illuminate the pressing threat– hopefully to the degree that his fans will do more to embrace the cause than watch the DVD while consuming burgers and fries as they orbit their environs within the comfortable confines of their air-conditioned SUVs.
Sarcasm aside, this film should be mandatory viewing in every classroom around the globe. Kids are the future and, as The 11th Hour shows us, the future is now. And its looking grim.