Before the Flood

  • Title: Before the Flood
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: October 31, 2016 (USA)
  • Run time: 135 Minutes
  • Director: Fisher Stevens
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (Narrat
  • Available on: YouTube Rental, Hulu, Amazon Video, Google Play, Fox (first 60 minutes free)
  • Recommendation by Ian Magnuson

Leonardo DiCaprio needs no introduction and as such, he makes a great champion for one of the largest issues facing our planet to date: climate change. Before the Flood makes a convincing argument for anthropogenic climate change, that is, climate change caused by us. The most important feature of this documentary are the visuals. In many ways, climate change is a creeping disaster, one that’s effects are only slowly doled out over time and reveal themselves in ways that can anecdotally be explained away as a weird weather but, as the old adage goes, seeing is believing.

Before the Flood takes us all over the world to see the real impact of the planet’s chronic illness, showing flood prevention action in Miami, Florida (a state where no government employees are allowed to say “climate change”), disappearing glaciers in Greenland, and perhaps most shockingly, the hellish landscape of ruin caused by tar sands drilling in the former boreal forests of western Canada*.

Before the Flood doesn’t leave us feeling totally defeated. We caused this problem but we can also solve it. DiCaprio makes it his mission to convey this message of hope by speaking with some of the people that can or are doing the most to combat climate change. He interviews Tesla founder Elon Musk, president Barack Obama, Pope Francis, and even has a meeting with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon of South Korea, among a milieu of other significant actors (not the Hollywood kind) in the fight against climate change.

While I feel DiCaprio’s heart is in the right place, I can’t help but feel a small sense of ego-ism in the movie as he takes a moment to show how his team had to move shooting of The Revenant from Canada to Argentina to chase snow. He often looks a bit oafish wearing designer clothes and flying in private jets to visit locations who are suffering due to our lavish consumption in the west. I strongly urge you not only to watch this film, especially with those around you who may be skeptical of the climate change, but also to see through the shortcomings of the film and focus on the deeper message. We are in danger, but humanity works best when it has a common enemy. It’s time to get to work.

* To be 100% clear, the forests are not dying due to climate change, but they are being removed specifically to add to the problem, representing the broader narrative of humanity's impact on the planet.