Our World in the Crosshairs (Documentary Review: “Before the Flood”)

While the political climate in the U.S. undergoes a seismic shift, so does the planet, according to the sober and comprehensive documentary, Before the Flood. And the timing couldn’t be more dire for Government and Science to shake hands across the aisle on the side of global survival.


SnapShot Plot

Before the Flood may be the most important film you will watch. Period. Because the message couldn’t be more impactful: if Mankind doesn’t change course immediately, the consequences of our modern lifestyle will spell doom for our collective future. But what makes Before the Flood and other like-minded vehicles on the subject of Climate Change a challenge to ‘sell’ on the world stage is the fact that this issue has been mired in so much geopolitical wrangling for so many years that it’s become a quagmire in and of itself. The question of scientific veracity has become so politicized that the end result is a stagnating exhaustion and cynicism around the entire topic.

Enter Leonardo DiCaprio, Hollywood icon and longtime activist, whose image over the years may have occasionally translated as a bit of an environmental scold but whose global star equity could open lots of doors and command a good degree of world attention. Several years ago, DiCaprio got together with his friend, the actor and documentary filmmaker, Fisher Stevens to see if they could make a definitive, easily digestible statement, something irrefutable which would grab everyone’s attention. With their partner National Geographic, DiCaprio and Stevens traveled the world over a three-year period, photographing the stunning physical evidence of man-made climate change and speaking with political and spiritual leaders and – most importantly –  the world’s top scientific minds. Throughout the film, DiCaprio is front and center as a kind of layman’s science journalist/host. He’s unabashedly awestruck at the power and beauty of Nature, and clearly determined to ‘get it right’ when he interacts with the experts. In two very human interactions – one with President Obama and the other with Pope Francis – DiCaprio’s palpable nervousness before meeting the Pontiff as opposed to his almost casual ease with the Leader of the Free World offers a touching glimpse into his personality. Bottom line though: this is not a celebrity pet project for DiCaprio but rather a labor of love for all involved.



Parting Shot

As visually breathtaking and heartbreaking as Before the Flood is, the film also seems to be saying that the subject of Climate Change is admittedly complex, but it’s too important a cause from which to shirk responsibility in favor of climate denial. So on top of the Nature shots and locations, the film focuses on the politics, covering the conferences and events leading up to the Paris Agreement and ending at the United Nations.

Before the Flood is clearly a documentary with a particular editorial position on the subject of man-made climate change. The evidence compiled by the filmmakers seems overwhelmingly compelling. But there is still a valid discourse that must be acknowledged, and respect must be shown to opinions which differ, rather than lumping them into a new “basket of deplorables” (to borrow a polarizing phrase from our own contentious Presidential campaigns.) The problem is this, however: there’s this doomsday clock ticking away on the planet, according to Climate Change ‘believers’. And if the ‘deniers’ are wrong, will it be too late to turn back that clock? And lastly, will the most shockingly unlikely incoming President of the United States even bother to ask what time it is?

Before the Flood is Available to Stream on YouTube in its Entirety.

Check out this short interview with Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio on the making of Before the Flood:


Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to announce squatters rights on a fantastic site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

YouTube Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UGsRcxaSAI

YouTube Interview w. DiCaprio and Stevens Courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dYNcSFWFRQ

Leave a Reply