When one hears the name Leonardo DiCaprio, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s his acclaimed role in Titanic, or dramatic performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, or even his dedicated efforts in The Revenant. Or, could it be his devotion to speaking on current and increasingly threatening global issues?
Before the Flood, an investigative documentary delving into the murky reality of climate change, follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he speaks with scientific experts, activists, and world officials on the most effective ways to acknowledge and combat this international epidemic. He not only volunteers himself as the face of the documentary but the producer as well. Released in 2016, DiCaprio puts himself at the forefront of this immersive film, grasping at the chance to be seen as much more than a Hollywood actor, but a true champion for a revolutionary cause – a cause that some argue is the most prevalent danger confronting our world today.
His head-first dive into the conversation on climate is not a temporary break from acting or an alternative way to draw attention to his already distinguished image, as many critics have accused. Rather, DiCaprio has worked strenuously to integrate himself into the environmentalists’ narrative. In the monumental moment of his first Academy Award win for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant, DiCaprio utilized his platform to step up as an activist and inform the A-list audience, as well as those watching at home, of an issue of extreme relevance: climate change. He eloquently noted, “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity.”
Before the Flood allows viewers to gain well-rounded insight into the many facets contributing to shifts in atmospheric temperatures. Following a powerful introductory video – complete with a montage of heart-wrenching nature clips – DiCaprio commences the documentary by accepting the position of Messenger of Peace for the Climate at a meeting of the United Nations. This notable achievement sets up the stage for the film in a convincing manner, clearly giving credit to the actor’s name.
The camera follows DiCaprio through a packed itinerary complete with visits to over eleven different regions of the planet. Most notably, DiCaprio allows the audience to gain an inside look into the source of atmospheric greenhouse gases; he journeys to the Tar Sands of Canada, “where Suncor Energy produces 350,000 gallons of synthetic crude oil.” There, DiCaprio speaks with the Senior Vice President of the company on the dangerous reality of oil production and how the world’s fixation with fossil fuels is leading to a continuously increasing demand for petroleum. He emphasizes how, as humanity develops a greater dependency on fossil fuels to power almost every aspect of their daily lives, greenhouse gases are becoming more concentrated within the Earth’s atmosphere. As the film progresses, DiCaprio travels to the melting glaciers of the Arctic Circle, Florida’s floods, China’s smoggy skies, the developing nation of India, the coral reefs of the Caribbean, and the deforestation occurring in Indonesia among his other impactful visits.
Before the Flood brings a pressing issue to light, undoubtedly with the help of actor Leonardo DiCaprio; his ability to reign in the public eye and direct it towards the issue of climate change through his prominent role in this documentary should not be ignored. While many are quick to judge the intentions of this internationally famous star, consider the impact of his face in a movement that needs extensive support from all members of society and from all corners of the Earth. This documentary has been broadcasted to over 60 million viewers around the globe, breaking records as it exceeded one billion minutes viewed throughout digital streaming sites. Furthermore, the strenuous work that went into creating Before the Flood has not gone unnoticed. The film has received impressive recognition, with awards such as Official Selection for the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, and Official Selection for the BFI London Film Festival in 2016.
Again, let us acknowledge the decision to place Leonardo DiCaprio at the forefront of this documentary and at the frontline of the fight to end climate change. In Before the Flood, DiCaprio is not playing a stowaway on a ship, or an illicit businessman, or an endangered frontiersman; he is truly not playing any part at all, rather showing the world a glimpse into his genuine persona that goes beyond the culture of Hollywood.
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