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The 11th Hour: We Are All Doomed

The apocalyptic documentary The 11th Hour is dreary in tone and drab in execution. It's basically a series of talking heads alternating with images of everything from industrial progress to scenes of famine to pictures of angry nature wreaking havoc on the world's helpless creatures. Every once in a while, Leonardo DiCaprio comes onscreen to try and hammer home some point, though even his involvement isn't particularly interesting. In fact, during his segments I found myself zoning out altogether.

The so-so filmmaking aside, some of what a few of the interviewees had to say is thought-provoking. Much ado is made over the wonder and beauty of the human mind — though this is quickly tempered by the assertion that the mind has been both the key to our survival and the thing that has thrown us out of balance with the rest of nature. Basically, humans made this mess and now we need to clean it up. I did find this comment particularly intriguing: "Nature has no rights today. We see nature as property. Nature needs rights, too." Specifically, our generation is critical to designing a way for the human race to coexist with nature.

These interesting tidbits are truly hard-earned, however, since the viewer has to slog through a considerable amount of doomsday moaning about the state of the environment — and our guilty placement at the very center of this sorry state. Given the kind of audience this movie will likely attract, it certainly seems to be not just preaching to the choir, but sternly lecturing and shaming the choir, too. To find out what I mean by this,

Indeed, shame plays a huge part in this film. By a third of the way into the documentary, I felt guilty for ever having been born into this wildly overpopulated world, since overpopulation appears to be at the core of the ecological crisis. But that's not all — elsewhere on the long list of people/things to blame for all this destruction and pain are the following: the economy, politicians, TV, industry in general, advertising, the media in general, the fishing industry, human greed, wealthy people, consumerism, American culture and more. Among the things that have resulted from all these evils are the icecaps melting (which, of course, I get), natural disasters and any number of debilitating diseases and really, suffering of all kinds. By the end of the movie I felt terribly, and like I was somehow responsible for everything from Katrina to testicular cancer.

I also felt ashamed of being an active participant in the apparently cruel media... until I realized the irony of that sentiment. Here they are conveying a message via... film. And they're hoping active members of the economy (ahem, consumers) will use their dollars to see this film. Not only that, but they're using an A-list celebrity to help them carry this message to the fat, greedy, single-minded Americans they so disdain.

Still, for a while after the movie ended, I was more aware of my natural surroundings, and found myself thinking more about my relationship with nature. So, since the documentary makes it sound like we're doomed to extinction anyway, I suppose it's nice to remember to enjoy nature while we're still around.


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