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Movie Review

The 11th Hour

By John Andrews

If you see only one documentary movie this year, make it The 11th Hour, the climate crisis film produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. This documentary is so crammed with empowering ideas that it leaves your head spinning. It begins with a frightening look at global warming, touching upon other converging problems such as overpopulation, species extinction, and deforestation. But after this reminder that you should be very, very scared, it brings onstage the great minds of our generation who are already fully engaged in working out the solutions to our problems. One after another, sound, farsighted solutions are laid out, and you can’t help but get excited about the possibilities. At one point Paul Hawken says "What a great time to be born! What a great time to be alive! Because this generation gets to completely change this world." As the movie continues, you begin to catch his enthusiasm.

This is the film that "An Inconvenient Truth" failed to be. Inconvenient Truth was a partisan piece that spun the story to make it seem that electing a Democrat president was the ultimate answer to global warming.  To market this narrow perspective, it had to keep Al Gore front and center as the only spokesperson. And it had to cover up the deep complicity of the Washington political establishment – Democratic and Republican – in creating our current predicament. In contrast, 11th Hour notes the failures of both major parties in giving the oil companies their stranglehold on our future.  11th Hour then gives the microphone to the activists and thinkers who sounded the alarm long before any politician was interested, and who are actively engaged in implementing the bright ideas that can save the world. You hear from people like environmentalist Paul Hawken, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, architect William MacDonough, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, author Bill McKibben, physicist Stephen Hawking, and biomimicry advocate Janine Benyus.

At one point, architect William MacDonough suggests that we must rise to a new level of sophistication in the design of the built world:

"If we think about the tree as a design, it’s something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, provides a habitat for hundreds of species, accrues solar energy, makes complex sugars and food, creates micro-climates, self-replicates. So, what would it be like to design a building like a tree? What would it be like to design a city like a forest? So what would a building be like if it were photosynthetic? What if it took solar energy and converted it to productive and delightful use?"

It would be a building that would be a solution to global warming, and not a contributor, that’s for sure.

I left the theatre feeling that I’d been given a glimpse of a whole new world. And that it was time to get busy building it. Thank you, Leonardo.

To see the movie trailer for The 11th Hour, click here

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