With all the election coverage and Trump’s win, Leonardo DiCaprio’s important new documentary has definitely been shoved under the rug. Directed by Fisher Stevens, Before the Flood follows DiCaprio’s path to enlightenment about climate change.
The phrase “climate change” has been thrown around for years, but we haven’t had a strong visual of this idea since the days of Al Gore. That is, until now. DiCaprio takes us on a road to discovery similar to his own journey. As the documentary progresses, we learn more about the damage that we’re currently inflicting on our planet.
Many have judged the documentary based entirely on its visuals or the flow of its story. Many have even discredited the entire documentary because of its leading man. What would an actor know about climate change?
But this documentary is exactly what we need to wake up from the illusion that we’ll be fine as long as the earth spins. Before the Flood begins with DiCaprio’s experience watching “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch: a three-panel painting that depicts the beginnings of Earth in the first panel, the growth and beauty of Earth in the second, and Earth’s destruction in the final panel. DiCaprio uses the painting to inform us that we’re currently making our way towards the final panel as we become complacent in our lives in the middle panel.
It isn’t the videography, the direction, the visuals, or the “story” that makes Before the Flood so powerful. Rather, the power lies in its brutal honesty. DiCaprio brings to life the worst of our behaviour and doesn’t attempt to hide the reality of climate change. Before the Flood forces us to reflect on our blind actions. By the end, we realize how much of a virus we’ve become to Earth, and how we’ve allowed money to determine our cause of action on the Earth’s reparation.
The fact is that we have significantly damaged our planet. You might recall the previous winter—warm weather, rain, and a green Christmas. We are the reason for global warming. We senselessly burn fossil fuels and consume natural resources as if they are unlimited. Consequently, our ozone is dissipating, the Earth’s temperatures are on the rise, and the polar ice caps are rapidly melting.
DiCaprio drags us through the mud and makes sure we hit every rock along the way. Before the Flood wants us to feel terrible for our complacency, as this is the only way we’ll change.
However, the film ends with some hope. Although damage has been done, we can still help the planet. DiCaprio suggests paying a voluntary carbon tax, voting for leaders who will guide us in the right direction to slow the effects of climate change, and donating to appropriate causes.
Before the Flood is both an emotional and logical documentary that guarantees a strong wake-up call. Earth is our home, yet we are actively destroying it for the sake of our personal and economic comfort. Climate change can’t be about money or jobs anymore. DiCaprio encourages us to unite and make change happen now. We take advantage of the fact that we live on this planet. Similar to how we take care of our own homes and our families, we must take care of our planet.
Before the Flood can be labelled as a documentary, but its message transcends the medium. We must cease our destructive behaviour towards Mother Nature and actively do the best we can to change, before the flood hits.