Argus Review: Before The Flood

Leonardo DiCaprio goes on a trip around the world to validate his climate change credentials

By Brady Coyle, Staff Writer

Leonardo DiCaprio with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. PC: United Nations Photo/ Flickr

Leonardo DiCaprio with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. PC: United Nations Photo/ Flickr

While Leonardo DiCaprio’s passion for the issue of climate change is undeniable, his new film, Before The Flood, seems to be more of a self-serving mission than a helpful guide in the battle against climate change.

It had everything you would expect from a climate change film: there were beautiful moments with spectacular cinematography, followed by horrific scenes of ravaged landscapes. There were shots of icebergs falling to pieces, and footage of smoke stacks blowing towering clouds of pollutants into the air.

This movie offers a little more substance than others in its genre. Given DiCaprio’s fame in the movie industry, he lands some significant interviews, including President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This film has as much star power as a documentary could ever hope to have. The problem is that, at this point in time, a film trying to convince the general public about the looming effects of climate change is futile.

The biggest hurdle that this film faces, and fails to overcome, is that most individuals have made up their minds on the reality of climate change. They either believe it or they do not, and nothing that is said or done will change their position.

If you watch this film as a believer in climate change, there are not many new pieces of information to take away.

Yes, we know the developed world is responsible for a majority of ozone depletion. Yes, we know the global temperature of the world is rising. Yes, we know it is going to take a major lifestyle change in the Western World to reduce our carbon footprint. None of this is news.

On the other side of the coin, climate change skeptics are going to consider the film to be a waste of 96 minutes. They will spend the time arguing against everything DiCaprio is trying to justify, on his plight to spread the word on anthropogenic climate change.

What we end up watching instead is The Revenant star’s journey around the world in what seems to be an attempt to justify his appointment as the United Nations’ Messenger of Peace for climate change.

The film begins with his selection to the position on the UN, and is followed by a montage that contains all of the media’s doubts and skepticism of DiCaprio being an appropriate choice.

This is followed by DiCaprio’s yearlong, worldwide journey to see the global effects of climate change. Say what you will about the Academy Award-winning actor, but that is commitment to his job.

After his journey the film culminates with an impassioned speech from DiCaprio to the UN, pleading for climate change to be an issue that is urgently addressed. As much as it is a documented look at climate change, we end up with a story about DiCaprio becoming qualified for his position.

The truth of the matter is that over 97% of scientists believe humans are the cause of accelerated climate change. It is brazen to refute the evidence that has, and is, being delivered.

DiCaprio might have spent over a year creating a documentary that is preaching to the choir, but the integral question much of the audience may be left wondering is… Now what?

In order for climate change to be combatted, it will take a major paradigm shift in the way society thinks. It is critical that rather than an economy first mentality, it becomes an environment first mentality. As explained to The Argus earlier this year by LUSU’s Sustainability Initiative Coordinator, Kyle Norman, a healthy environment promotes a healthy society, which in turn promotes a healthy economy.

This change will not happen overnight, nor does Before The Flood try and convince viewers of this. If we are to alter our habits so that we reduce our environmental impact, it must start locally and move from there.

If this issue is one that you are moved by, check out LUSU’s Sustainability Initiative for advice on how to become eco-friendly. We are the ones who got ourselves into this mess, but if humanity can adjust its lifestyles in order to reduce its carbon footprint, hopefully, we can get ourselves out.