Directors: Nadia Conners & Leila Conners Peteterson
Despite bearing a freakishly uncanny resemblance to decades old photos of my grandfather which has prevented me from joining the legions of his lusty admirers, I must admit that the handsome Leonardo DiCaprio makes a far more appealing alternative to watching a roughly one hundred minute Power Point Presentation. This being said, as environmental awareness documentaries go in explaining the horrors of Global Warming, The 11th Hour pales in comparison to Davis Guggenheim’s Oscar winning film An Inconvenient Truth starring Al Gore.
Admirable, well-intentioned and filled with diverse figures from scholars to scientists, 11th Hour producer, narrator, co-writer and star DiCpario continues the conversation set forth by Gore in this exceptionally crafted yet largely ineffective documentary. Many have accused The 11th Hour of simply preaching to the choir of those of us who not only saw the Truth of Gore’s film but have also tried to change the ways in which we live our lives whether it be with a simple eco-friendly light bulb to purchasing a hybrid automobile. And in regards to Leo's Hour, one must admit that its core audience would be those who not only accept the proven argument of Global Warming but are also aware that change must occur.
In addition, although we’re living in a time of undeniable environmental crisis with little time left to change our ways to stave off unspeakable catastrophe from the irreparable harm we’ve caused to our planet, spending an entire hour chronicling everything that went wrong following the Industrial Revolution which has brought us to our current state of too many citizens, using too many resources, much too quickly doesn’t really do much in guiding audience members to solve problems. Instead of overwhelming us with negatives and threats which are undoubtedly accurate and devastatingly urgent, playing the blame game with too many hellfire and brimstone like environmental sermons about an impending doomsday makes us feel even more powerless and thus far less likely to act.
Despite this, the finally thirty-five minutes are indeed inspiring in outlining some of the ways in which ordinary citizens have gone beyond narrow viewpoints and self-obsession in seeking inspiration in nature to strive for sustainable design. However, in the end, the film’s original thesis that the incredible, limitless potential and extraordinary abilities of the human mind will save Earth from turning into Venus (as Stephen Hawking fears), becomes a distant memory, as directors Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Peterson paint a bleak portrait with the final cut of The 11th Hour which ultimately provides more information than answers, making us long once again for Professor Al Gore and his trusty Power Point Presentation.