Film Review: Before the Flood

Today was the day I had been waiting for. It was over 12 months ago that I first got news that Leonardo DeCaprio had teamed up with the National Geographic in the making of a documentary-film on Climate Change. And ever since that day I was pessimistic that this film would ever really be able to capture my attention on such a hot-topic.

Yet to my surprise, Leo’s voyage across the world captivated me from the outset. The film follows his two-year journey in “examining” at first-hand the effects of climate change and looking at ways of preventing the exponential problem from growing further. During his journey, key influential figures including Elon Musk, President Obama and Pope Francis all contribute in adding to film’s simple message.

Leonardo DeCaprio via The Independent

Coupled with the above interesting and credible figures, the film only progressed in the beauty of its filming and outsets. It’s difficult to argue against the heat-felt commitment of DeCaprio as recorded heavily in the footage. Stemming from a passion for nature since a very early age – especially in extinct species – DeCaprio sells a fine act of creating an image of a truly “concerned citizen of the world”. And it’s ever since his encounter with Al-Gore in 2000 that his passion for climate change really became obvious to followers of the Oscar-winning actor.

One of the stunning shots taken in Greenland via

The film interestingly compares India to the US, highlighted by the growing economies’ denial of energy-consumption that the US has held for the last century at least.

“Stemming from a passion for nature since a very early age – especially in extinct species – DeCaprio sells a fine act of creating an image of a truly “concerned citizen of the world”.”

It shares a message that highlights specific change we can make such as changing our diet away from beef in order to reduce the methane pollution that cattle produce through when “burping” as a result of food consumption. And my admiration for Leo grew when he addressed the significant carbon footprint he himself has left on the planet (as he enters a Porsche and drives off into the glaring US sun).

Despite the above however, it felt as if Leo has just exploited the funding for the filming in an expensive two-year global holiday. With footage of him lazily staring out across the tranquil Indian Ocean in one scene, it’s almost as if the film forgets the real purpose behind its existence and transitions back to a focus on DeCaprio as this celebrity who has been gifted the opportunity to really promote the problem of Climate Change. The film daringly tackled this issue that DeCaprio might not be the right man for the job, considering his lack of scientific understanding, with a Fox news clip lambasting his involvement in the U.N. right at the outset.

But as the film quickly brushes this issues aside in the early minutes, I myself cannot forget this point. Especially when DeCaprio struggles to string to gather more than a handful of syllables in response to more of the technical points made in the film by his interviewees. He clearly has no real understanding of Climate Change. But arguably this makes him more approachable and relatable to the “masses” of which this film is clearly targeted at.

DeCaprio in Indonesia via

Overall, DeCaprio merely acts as the “Hollywood Star” stand-in for those with limited knowledge on climate change. The only real meaningful impact he has on the film is his speech at the Paris Agreement, shown at the end. However, I must concede that I am not entirely confident in how much of it DeCaprio actually wrote himself.

And on that note, I think we can conclude that the film is excellently filmed and acts as a good watch for the masses, especially if you have previously had limited knowledge on climate change. But the film merely scratches the surface of the real issue and hosts a limited amount of hard-factual information that we as viewers can take away with us. It is difficult to look past to amateurish role DeCaprio plays in the film, especially when he “talks with” a somewhat pointless Pope Francis, but we must praise him for his efforts in acting as a messenger of such an important topic. I only hope it leads to an audience like myself who take it upon themselves to research the issue further and look at the film as motivation to make a real impact.

Overall film rating: 72%

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2 thoughts on “Film Review: Before the Flood

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