My Review Of The 11th Hour

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:29 pm

Went to see The 11th Hour this weekend with Margaret and the majority of my fellow staff at Fungi Perfecti. Kind of depressing that our group of perhaps 25 people easily made up a quarter of the total audience for the Seattle debut of a fairly important picture. Ah well; it’s a documentary, it offers no titties or gun fights and it wasn’t made with top-of-the-line Silicon Graphics workstations in a server farm in the Valley, so what should I expect. It was worth going to see, not the least of reasons being that Margaret spotted my name in the end credits, under “Special Thanks To…” Wow. Shawn is so pissed I ended up in the credits of a major motion picture before him. 😆

The 11th Hour intersperses brief excerpts from on-camera interviews with luminaries from a wide range of primarily scientific fields (with just enough in the way of philosophers and holy men to appease the Newer of the Ageists in the audience) with film clips of natural disasters, fast-paced animated graphs and timelines, and “mood” shots of either a positive (clear water coursing down a stream) or negative (fletcher clubbing a harp seal) affect, depending on the point being emphasized at the moment. At regular intervals, Leonardo DiCaprio appears against a background appropriate to the mood and makes some sort of statement to bind the preceding section with the proceeding. His role in the film as narrator is in fact fairly low-key; he obviously did not want the show to revolve around himself, despite having produced and bankrolled it.

Overall the direction is very good, in my opinion. They obviously knew that they were dealing with a really depressing subject, and paced the film appropriately. Just when you are about to become overwhelmed with the impending doom of, say, the effect that global warming will have on the release of CO2 currently bound in the depths of the ocean (this little gem courtesy of Dr. Stephen Hawking, his eyes pinning you to your seat all the while), they change the subject, filling the gap between the sections with some gorgeous, contemplative footage of ocean life and waves crashing on a reef. Kind of a small dish of cinematic sorbet with which to clear your emotional palate.

The last perhaps third of the film is all about solutions, something that is often missing from this sort of endeavor. My boss was one of the scads of idea (wo)men offered up at this juncture, talking primarily about the ability of fungi to absorb and convert a dizzying array of harmful substances, from coliform bacteria to VX gas. (This is not conjecture or academic proselytizing, either; Fungi Perfecti has proven this in laboratory and real-world experiments conducted with the Washington State Departments of Transportation and Public Works, Battelle Marine Science Laboratories, and the United States Defense Department. Nyeah. 😛 ) Others described manufacturing technologies that mimic natural processes; green architecture; photovoltaic systems that allow buildings to power themselves and pump energy back into the grid; wave-action power; wind- and water-driven rotor fields; hybrid technology diesel-electric rail systems, and on and on and on. I think the idea was to dazzle the viewer with the possibilities, and for me it was a show-stopper. My inner nerd cries out for technological solutions to the problems we face (especially since the other major alternatives, like the collapse of the world economy, ceaseless resource wars or the return to a semitechnological agrarian way of life would all suck ass), and the thinkers in this film were definitely all about that. These weren’t “Got to get ourselves back to the Garden” types. None of them believed that we could sustain our current population without a technological society. What they–and most of us–are hoping for is simply the implementation of thoughtful technology, carefully planned and implemented. Reduce the pounds of waste generated per pound of manufactured goods. Increase the efficiency of our mechanisms, reducing, trapping and reusing waste and byproducts. Eliminate wherever possible our dependence on resources that cannot be renewed at the rate at which we consume them. Use our big fucking brains to get us out of this mess, and not let existing power structures petrified of change keep it from happening.

What the fuck, it sure wouldn’t cost 200 million dollars a day to accomplish.

The very end of the film is about what you would expect: time is running out, we’re at the 11th hour (hey, that’s the name of the movie, too! Whoa, weird), you can be part of change, get off your fat asthma-choked PCB-poisoned TV-watching ass and get to it. The last word is given by Oren Lyons, who says, basically, “Even if we don’t make the changes we need to, there will be clear rivers and blue skies and forested mountainsides again. We just won’t be here to see them. The world will prevail, because it has all the time in the world. We do not.”

The film is definitely one-sided. There were no contrasting opinions on the subject of global climate change and Man’s role in same. But that was to be expected. Frankly, the anti-environmentalists have their own entire goddamn 24 hour news channel from which to enlighten their followers, so I don’t think this was a big problem. The overall message is one of optimism, which is never a bad thing. I recommend The 11th Hour to anyone looking for some hope in the face of everything we’ve managed to do to the planet. Make sure to drag along a couple of Fox News devotees while you’re at it. Maybe they’ll agree to come if you promise to pay for their popcorn.

2 Responses to “My Review Of The 11th Hour

  1. Gavin Says:

    The real cause of Global Warming: CO2 outgassed from roasted coffee beans. Ban Starbucks! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Hey, back off you eco-Nazi! 😮

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