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  The 11th Hour

Featuring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mikhail Gorbachev, Paul Hawken, Steven Hawking

Directed by: Leila Conners Peterson, Nadia Conners

Produced by: Leonardo DiCaprio, Leila Conners Peterson, Brian Gerber, Chuck Castleberry

Written by: Leila Conners Peterson, Nadia Conners

Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures, Warner Bros.


      Please allow me to indulge you in a bit of logical philosophy for a moment. First, let’s determine the purpose of The 11th Hour, the latest documentary advocating the importance of American Eco-Friendliness to see theatrical distribution. Was the film made in order to pat the backs of those who have already gone green, as the euphemism goes? Perhaps the makers of The 11th Hour saw a need to preach to that choir in order to ensure its success at the box-office—liberal moviegoers eat this type of project up—but that certainly couldn’t be its purpose for existing. Presuming that the film’s central goal is to denote polluting the environment, we can therefore assume that its purpose is to convince those who practice environmentally-damaging behavior to change their habits.

     All right—now we’re on the same page in understanding why The 11th Hour exists in the first place. How unfortunate that this understanding provokes the realization that the film is entirely ineffectual. In this respect, the main problem with The 11th Hour is simply that it puts the cart before the horse, so to speak. It shows the viewer many ways of how to lower their level of environmental consumption, but never explains why these practices are necessary. It isn’t likely that those who need to be swayed to consume less believe the reason for which The 11th Hour asserts they should do so: the “fact” that human activity has caused at least a portion of the process of global warming. The movie’s narration merely accepts that “irrefutable evidence”—a term it throws around quite frequently—supports that humans are, indeed, responsible for global warming. However, if this statement is not accepted by the viewer, they will view the rest of the movie (which deals with how to slow down the warming process) as invalid.

     Personally, I believe that global warming is a natural process that has little to do with human-created emissions. However, I am still willing to acknowledge that environmental pollution is a bad thing; it damages air and water qualities, which unquestionably make the world a less healthy place to live in. Still, The 11th Hour’s arguments did nothing to convince me to use cloth grocery bags instead of plastic ones or buy a hybrid car. They are entirely based around the human cause of global warming, which brings a strong degree of exclusivity to the film’s arguments. Most of the people who believe in the movie’s basis have already adopted the solutions it offers. Because it doesn’t put forth a strong argument that global warming has been caused by the earth’s inhabitants—something that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth at least tried to do—the skeptical will not likely come to believe the theory while viewing the film.

     And then there’s the Leonardo DiCaprio issue. DiCaprio appears here as narrator, in a totally ridiculous and self-promoting turn. His onscreen participation in the project (he’s also onboard as a producer) adds nothing to the picture but an endless supply of chuckles. The 11th Hour somewhat randomly cuts to sensationalist, long-lasting takes of DiCaprio spouting environmentalist-jargon that he clearly only half-understands. There’s no reason for the narrator to appear in the film at all; voice-overs would’ve sufficed. DiCaprio only appears here due to the studio’s hope that viewers uninterested in the film’s subject might see it because they recognize the famous actor’s face, an unlikelihood at best. Like the rest of the 11th Hour, DiCaprio seems so conflicted about the nature of the material that his work proves ineffective and often laughable.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 9.12.2007

Screened on: 8.30.2007 at the UltraStar Hazard Center in San Diego, CA.


The 11th Hour is rated PG and runs 95 minutes.

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