Before the Flood is a 2016 documentary about climate change. The film took us across the world, visiting Canada’s oil mines, Beijing’s smog, Florida’s floods, and many other locations across the globe. This documentary provides the viewer with a lot of facts, professional opinions, and imagery on what is going on with our planet’s change in climate. The entire documentary is told by Leonardo DiCaprio which provided me with a familiar face whom I love to see on the screen. Unfortunately, because it was such a science based message, I found it really hard to receive from a Hollywood actor. While the film was very interesting and entertaining to watch, it’s big push for me as the viewer to take action against Global Warming was unsuccessful due to how they chose to present the message.
Obviously Global Warming and climate change are relevant topics right now, and this documentary was made to bring even more awareness to those issues (Before the Flood "About" page). The movie was actually released just weeks before the presidential election, THAT seems to be a message in itself. The entire documentary had a very liberal stance, knocking conservative views any chance it got (as well as no interviewed persons to talk about a counter argument), so there is another potential example of the film’s context.
As far as audience goes, I believe this was created to reach as many people as possible. We are all inhabitants of this planet, and this film was made to educate us on what kind of effect we are having on Earth. It was released on National Geographic channel, and what I find interesting about this is that the majority of people who are watch National Geographic probably already care about the environment, so why release it there? If they are truly trying to make a change, then wouldn’t they want to reach the people who don’t know or care about climate change? It would make more sense to release it on a national news network like ABC or even better, Fox. In my opinion, that would have really spread the word.
The underlying purpose, or message of this documentary was that each and every decision we make directly impacts the global environment. Whether it’s our purchases at the grocery store, the lights we use in our homes, or the cars we drive, just about anything we do to this planet will have an effect on its life. This film was made with the goal of educating everyone on the truth of climate change so we can collectively make a change. What it kept saying was that if a change wasn’t made, we are basically toast. And they reinforced this idea by referencing and interviewing all kinds of renowned scientists, politicians, and scholars. For instance, Al Gore, one of the most outgoing climate change advocators, was referenced in the movie several times. Barack Obama was even interviewed in the film, along with many scientists and scholars who all supported the notion that global warming is killing our planet. Another key figure they chose to highlight in the doc was The Pope, he even said that “we need to take action against global warming.” What they did was get countless credible people to support their message and highlight the ideas that they wanted. This strongly appeals to the viewer’s logos and ethos because they are providing us with facts and ideas coming from individuals who are extremely credible in their fields. To get at our pathos they did a lot of guilt tripping (in my opinion). I heard a lot of stuff about how horrible we are for ruining our planet and why we’ve done such a poor job. Another jab at our pathos was fear, the documentary did a good job of making us feel scared about the future of Earth, which could make the viewer take a stand against climate change.
As far as Point of View goes, I was not pleased with the film. While the message was impactful and maybe even factual, the fact that a Hollywood actor is delivering it to me completely takes all credibility away. Even though Leo is the UN Messenger of Peace (a position he has been asked to step down from due to scandal) I didn’t like the fact that he was the middle man to reach the masses on this high level issue. This is a guy who has a massive carbon footprint, from his plentiful jet rides and luxurious cars and goods, so why is he the one preaching to me about cutting back on my impact on the environment?!?
I give this documentary 2 stars, and the only reason it had 2 is because it was entertaining and the cinematics/visuals were surreal. I take away 3 stars because a documentary like this is meant to make a change, but their delivery medium (DiCaprio- aka Hollywood hot shot, aka not a scientist/scholar) did not get the job done for me. When DiCaprio stops ruining our ozone with his fancy jet (hypocrisy), I’ll think about my impact on climate change.