Friday, November 16

Movie review: Before the Flood


In the documentary "Before the Flood," Leonardo DiCaprio explores the effects of human consumption on the environment around the world, including in Canada, Greenland, China, India and Indonesia. (National Geographic)

In the documentary "Before the Flood," Leonardo DiCaprio explores the effects of human consumption on the environment around the world, including in Canada, Greenland, China, India and Indonesia. (National Geographic)


“Before the Flood” Directed by Fisher Stevens National Geographic Channel Released Oct. 30

The painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” hung above Leonardo DiCaprio’s crib. In childhood, DiCaprio viewed the painting as an image of terror and wonder. As an adult, DiCaprio thinks the artwork represents today’s problems surrounding climate change, he said in “Before the Flood.”

Viewers of the film “Before the Flood” see an in-depth look into the causes and effects of climate change through the eyes of DiCaprio, an actor and United Nations Messenger of Peace focused on climate change. The documentary successfully communicates the dire status of the earth and what can be done to prevent further harm, such as eating chicken instead of beef and voting for propositions that prevent climate change.

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The causes and effects of climate change become easier to digest when communicated through DiCaprio’s personable image.

In the film, DiCaprio travels the world for two years, exploring the impact of human consumption on the environment from Canada to Greenland, China to India, Kiribati to Indonesia. The actor watches narwals swimming near the North Pole, witnesses industrialization in China and learns about flooding in Miami.

He talks to President Obama, environmental activists, science professors, scientists and even Pope Francis about the problems facing society, such as energy use, deforestation and the warming of the atmosphere.

Throughout the film, key activists and scientists argue that the United States needs to be the first major western country to begin to change. They urge America to begin using more renewable sources of energy and become a model for less developed countries.

The film is littered with helpful suggestions for small acts that everyday Americans could do to make a difference. Three of the points DiCaprio makes are to consume energy in a sustainable manner, monitor Americans’ food choices and vote for government officials who believe in climate change and want to make a difference in the environment.

[Read more: Movie Review: ‘Moonlight’]

DiCaprio is both a knowledgeable and relatable host of the documentary. The actor’s fame and familiarity makes him more approachable, allowing those less educated about the environment to learn about climate change with him, rather than being lectured by a knowledgeable scientist or activist.

Viewers are able to share in DiCaprio’s shock, pain and heartbreak as he plays with displaced orangutans, learns about the negative impacts of eating beef and witnesses Greenland melt before his eyes.

The film humanizes the Oscar Award-winning, A-list actor.

DiCaprio recounts his childhood trips to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, during which he would look at animal exhibits and contemplate how poachers and hunters can wipe out entire species. Now, DiCaprio argues the same issue is happening on a larger scale. By sharing his personal story, he is able to convey his message in a more relatable way.

Personal anecdotes about DiCaprio’s childhood and family successfully present him as a regular person, as if trying to form a friendship between the audience and the actor.

DiCaprio is an especially great choice for the host because of his public personal interest in the topic by speaking at global warming events and dedicating his Oscar acceptance speech to climate change. Another celebrity may not have the same effect because their passion would seem manufactured, as opposed to someone like DiCaprio who exemplifies his concern in everyday life.

The film succeeds in explaining complex concepts to someone with little knowledge about environmental science by using DiCaprio as a filter for more complicated terms. From the in-depth look at fossil fuels to the explanation of the harm of palm oil, the documentary expresses important points without being condescending.

This film is successful with drawing in viewers of all levels of interest and knowledge, and creating buzz and interest around the topic of climate change. As a celebrity, DiCaprio has the name recognition to incentivize people to watch what may otherwise seem like an average documentary. By touching on his film, “The Revenant,” viewers are able to connect with his professional side as well as his personal side.

The documentary brings attention to climate change and calls for action. It pleasantly blends a mix of fear-inducing facts and funny moments, of tear-jerking suffering and natural beauty. The mixture of intense emotions and powerful images made the information humanly tangible, easy to digest and worthy of action.

The documentary urges America to act before the flood in order to avoid the implications of DiCaprio’s ominous childhood painting.

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