Recently I had the opportunity to catch a sneak preview of Leonardo Dicaprio's, The 11th Hour. Said to be the unofficial sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, the film leaves off from an established understanding of environmental crisis and approaches the subsequent solutions humans must undertake to ensure a worthwhile future.
Following typical documentary format, the film reels vivid imagery to commentary from an impressive collection of scientists, political leaders, designers, and visionaries. Pundits range from former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev to sustainable design authority William McDonough. In total, the film features 50 independent voices.
Though The 11th Hour presents a depressing laundry list of statistics, it's not all doom and gloom. The film also highlights humanity's genius and ability to continue growth and innovation with systems that sustain rather than degrade. In an effort to take An Inconvenient Truth to the next level and create action out of awareness, The 11th Hour provides a layman's guide to existing resolutions and developing proposals. The "solution summary" covers all the bases from sustainable design to renewable energy to biomimicry. Such an overview of options is positive -- a welcomed change from the reprimanding voice so often associated with the environmental movement.
Despite Leonardo Dicaprio's celebrity, a cast of eco-superstars, and inspiring solutions, I still fear The 11th Hour will deflect ticket sales. I worry critics will tout the film as didactic and boring--a monotony of talking heads. Admittedly, the film is slow at times. Leonardo Dicaprio is impersonal. His narrations lack the charm of Gore's casual slide show. There are no cherry pickers and awkward but delicate references to lost elections. It's a bit tedious . . . but so what! See it anyway! The information is important and the message vital. You may not be clinging to the edge of your seat, or writhing in anticipation, but you'll gain an essential education--most importantly a critical understanding of the existing options. Despite our need for distraction and entertainment, despite a lukewarm greeting from the critics, this film is essential, and I hope everyone sees it. Whether we like it or not, The 11th Hour is a " must see."