DiCaprio appeals to youth on global warming

October 25, 2007

The 11th Hour

Written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen & Nadia Conners

Produced & narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio

In cinemas

Following on from Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, Leonardo DiCaprio has released his own climate change documentary, The 11th Hour, which is clearly aimed at a younger audience already convinced that global warming is happening and that are looking for solutions.

The doco begins with cascading images of environmental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina as well as signifiers of the madness of modern-day life, such as peak-hour traffic in Los Angeles, mountains of garbage and starving African children — creating a sense of moral outrage and urgency.

The soundtrack features Icelandic group Sigur Ros, whose haunting songs seem to express the widespread mood of unease and concern about the future of our planet and humanity, and Glaswegian "post-rock" band Mogwai. The doco's motto is also youth-targeted: "It's our generation that gets to change the world … forever".

And while Gore's film revolves around his own "lifelong" mission of spreading the word about global warming, DiCaprio surveys a quite astonishing number of people in his. The movie flyer boasts that "over 50 scientists, thinkers and leaders" are shown, with DiCaprio only throwing in his "two cents worth" between segments.

As well as the more predictable names such as renowned scientist Stephen Hawking and environmentalist David Suzuki, the speakers range from psychologists, to environmental and community activists, to sustainability designers.

Check out the "experts" link on the film's website (), where you can read the profiles of each and a synopsis of their message in the film. This is like an index for people interested in further researching the vast array of ideas presented, many of which are fascinating, although due to the brevity of their explanations were quite hard to fully digest.

Of course a glaring gap for any socialist is the complete lack of discussion of Cuba's incredible achievements in the field of ecology. But then again, DiCaprio is no radical, being a member of the pro-capitalist Democrats (along with Gore).

However DiCaprio does make a foray into discussion the issue of "corporate domination" as one of the key forces "blocking change", which of course Gore deftly avoided. DiCaprio specifically fingers the massive fossil fuel corporations such as ExxonMobil. One of the "experts" in the film noted, "It's not that our leaders are not responsive, they are very responsive to wealth, they are responsive to a higher power … the fossil fuel industry".

On the issue of what individuals can do, the usual "green consumer" message that featured large in Gore's film was well-represented as well as a probably disproportionate emphasis on "techno-fixes" such as the possibilities of green design. But this was offset partially by favourable mentions of the need for mass community mobilisation.

One of the directors, Nadia Conners, says in the film, "I believe this could be like the civil rights movement 40 years ago". Images of young people taking part in street marches were also used, indicating approval of political action, not just of buying the right "green" products.

This encouragement of collective action is reflected by the advertisement at the end of the film for the "11thhouraction" website. The site features a link to the internet facility "MeetUp" (an interactive social networking website based in the US), where you can find 11th Hour groups that have been set up to take action on climate change. You can even zoom in to the location of these on a specially-marked Google Earth map!

So far 30 groups have been formed in four countries. While these are mostly in the US, there are two groups in Australia and three people interested in forming a group in Adelaide. The Sydney group already has 30 members and they've had three meetings so far, one of these being a screening of the fantastic documentary Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

While the scope of this uniquely 21st Century "movement" is minimal so far, the powerful combination of international cinema releases with the internet's ease of networking certainly shows potential — and let's face it we need all the help we can get in this epic struggle to literally save the planet.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.