The 11th Hour

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      A documentary narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. Rated PG.

      Each of the past few decades has heralded dire environmental warnings, such as the destruction of the rain forests or the hole in the ozone layer. Our apathy and desensitization have meant the same basic messages have needed repeating. According to The 11th Hour, however, we can't ignore the warnings any longer.

      Yet where Al Gore used his persona to bring the global-warming crisis to a tangible level in An Inconvenient Truth, in The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio as a narrator is a superfluous and less galvanizing focus for the documentary's 50-plus chorus of scientists, activists, thinkers, authors, CEOs, politicians, and others. (It's quite the commentary that most of them garner less media attention than the average Hollywood trainwreck maybe that's why we're in this predicament.) Among recognizable names are environmentalist David Suzuki, designer Bruce Mau, and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. This film, however, probes more deeply than An Inconvenient Truth as it examines economic systems, food security, consumption problems, public opinion versus public policy, the extinction of humankind, and almost everything else that could possibly go wrong in our troubled world. It's certainly the heady load.

      The objective of this documentary, written and directed by filmmaking siblings Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, is to raise awareness. Even though the main themes are familiar, digestible sound bites present numerous thought-provoking ideas. Our modern-day problems are traced from historical events the Industrial Revolution population boom and the reliance on oil and coal for energy, for one and paradigm shifts, such as humans regarding ourselves as separate and disconnected from nature.

      Systemic solutions, such as changing consumption patterns from linear to cyclical ones, building cities and structures on nature-based models, and regarding nature as having rights rather than as property, are proposed, but the viewer is left to figure out what to do on his or her own. The film is certainly a needed contribution in raising awareness, but it will take far more to ensure that these concerns don't remain just talk without any action.