DiCaprio’s disturbing documentary disappoints

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“Before the Flood,” staring Leonardo DiCaprio aired a little over three years ago. This Hollywood star used his fame in attempts to bring climate change to light in a way that creates change like never seen before. A beautifully filmed documentary doesn’t seem to have lived up to its standards.

The director of photography, Antonio Rossi, provides breathtaking video coverage of the places to which DiCaprio travels. While a solidly filmed documentary adds to the level of success, a film needs more than just pretty pictures, a pretty face and scare tactics.

DiCaprio hoped to use this documentary to advance the fight for a healthy planet. The documentary opens with a painting done by Hieronymus Bosch called “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”

DiCaprio goes on to describe how his parents had this painting displayed in his room as a baby and as he grew up, he began to connect it with climate change’s effects on the world. The painting features three different sections each one growing in grimness as the painting continues to the right. The shocking truth that lies behind theses paintings is an eye-opening connection between the world of art and the real world.

Throughout the documentary we see DiCaprio travel to the Canadian oil sands, the Arctic Circle and the Sumatran forests where palm oil is harvested. We see the horrible effects that oil and CO2 emissions have on the planet and watch as DiCaprio walks over the decreasing layer of ice.

DiCaprio explores the effects that oil has on the world and travels to Suncor Oil Sands where he and a crew take an aerial tour of the lands. The process is explained, and we are able to see just how big this operation is. As the camera pans over the sands, we see that this operation spans hundreds of miles and causes the sands to turn black as the oil seeps into the ground.

While we see the oil sands and the grotesque effects, DiCaprio fails to properly educate the viewers on ways to reduce our use of oil and carbon emissions. Instead of simply showing and explaining the effects, DiCaprio could have explained ways that we could work towards using replacements for oil.

We then see DiCaprio tour Kangerlussauq, Greenland, where a devastatingly large amount of ice has melted in merely five years.

While DiCaprio does well in educating the public, we need more. We hear many times throughout the documentary how pessimistic he is in the fate of our planet and that the UN has made the wrong decision in choosing him. Instead of trying to scare the public and prove to us that he has taken a large amount of time and energy and put it into climate change, DiCaprio should have explained the issues in a way that is more educational than terrifying.

In the time that this was filmed, explaining ways to better the planet and lessen our carbon footprint would have been more helpful. As a society, we need to see influencers doing their part in saving the planet instead of watching them use its death to gain viewer’s attention. Fame should be used to not only bring light to world issues, but to push the public in the direction of progress.

This film provides plenty of disturbing information on ways that the planet is dying and leaves the viewer feeling more guilty than fulfilled.