Title: Before the Flood
Director: Fisher Stevens
‘Before The Flood’ follows a two year journey made by Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio in his role as U.N. Messenger of Peace on Climate Change, to find both the crisis points and the solutions to this existential threat to human species.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens collects the account of the Hollywood environmental activist, through a visually engaging and profound documentary. The movie truly sets a mark on how we are all responsible for our planet’s metamorphosis, and the way society can prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the globe.
The mesmeric Odyssey embraces five continents, starting in the Great Canadian Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta (where DiCaprio was shooting ‘The Revenant’ with Alejandro Iñárritu), all the way to Greenland, where rapid ice melts provide startling evidence of how quickly the climate is changing. Along the way, the film crew visits places like Sumatra ? where palm oil farmers are burning oxygen-producing rain forest habitat at an alarming rate ? and the land that creates the greatest amount of pollution in the world, Chindia.
DiCaprio serves as the audience’s ears and eyes, not only visiting all these sites, but also speaking to people from every facet of society to gain a deeper understanding of this complex issue. Leonardo interviews Pier Sellers at NASA, Farwiza Farhan and Rudi Putra in the Leuser Ecosystem; and through some old footage we see how since his early twenties he addressed all American presidents on the subject of global warming, from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama.
But the poetry of this motion picture is that it begins through art, and the way it may visualise a forthcoming threat. ‘Before The Flood’ opens with Leonardo DiCaprio illustrating the grotesquely alluring triptych painted by Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting is so important to him that he gifted a book about it to Pope Francis, after talking with the Holy Father during a private reception. The first panel depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: what idealistically could have been the world prior to the industrial revolution. The second panel is how DiCaprio sees our 21st century: overpopulated, afflicted by debauchery and excess…“Before the Flood.” And the third panel is a nightmarish world we could be heading to, if we don’t put an end to climate change.
In an economy based on the exploitation of fossil fuels, oil, coal and natural gas the consequences are hazardous for the Earth. ‘Before The Flood’ does not point fingers only at the causes of this situation. It also provides solutions. Giga Factories and a Carbon Tax could be valuable to improve the planet’s health. However as much as there are influential people who try to take action against climate change, there are just as many who deny it for financial interests. Oil companies for instance would lose trillions in profits with the advent of renewable energies. Therefore a group of “climate skeptics” is leading a strong disinformation campaign that denies global warming is caused by humans.
Director Fisher Stevens further reminds us that the awareness of global warming is not as recent as we may think. The problem has been known for decades, even through entertainment. ‘The Bell Laboratory Science Series,’ that used to broadcast during the fifties, discussed it already with The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays and The Unchained Goddess shot by the film director who won three Oscars, Frank Capra. Therefore DiCaprio’s acceptance speech at the Oscars, highlighting the effects of global warming, simply enhanced what his predecessors in showbiz tried to do.
‘Before The Flood’ elegantly weaves in the storytelling Leo’s speech at the United Nations, that comes with a warning that will not leave you indifferent: “As a citizen of our planet who has witnessed so much on this journey I thank you for all you have done to lay the foundation of a solution to this crisis, but after 21 years of debates and conferences it is time to declare no more talk. No more excuses. No more ten-year studies. No more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that effect our future. This is the only body that can do what is needed. You, sitting in this very hall. The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them. Lincoln’s words still resonate to all of us here today: ‘We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the last generation… We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.’ That is our charge now – you are the last best hope of Earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we – and all living things we cherish – are history.”
‘Before The Flood’ is a cinematic admonishment that was needed and will air globally on National Geographic, October 30th.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi