|'Before The Flood proceeds with constant reminders that global warming has already occurred, species are already extinct, changes have already been left too long'|
The Environmental Documentary has been a burgeoning sub-genre recently which, if nothing else, is yet another sign of how deep we are into the ecological mire. Life finds a way, claimed John Hammond. Life is about to find its way completely blocked, says Leonardo DiCaprio here; the face of this Documentary, though Fisher Stevens directs.
In truth, there is little new about Before The Flood, for those who have been paying attention to the sub-genre, that isn't to do with DiCaprio. The actor proves a solid personality in front of the camera, as Stevens refuses to take the overly narrative 'I'm meeting Elon Musk to talk about large batteries' approach. Instead, the film reads as a polemical poem, DiCaprio often referencing art and literature, along with the usual expert interviews, as the editing chops him from the Arctic Circle, to India, across the US and beyond. There's plenty of humility on show and a willingness not to play the faux-expert roll. A clip of him essentially being told off by an Indian expert makes the cut.
Where DiCaprio isn't concerned, the rest of the film plays like a less powerful Racing Extinction. Many of the arguments are the same and was that a bit of reused footage? Methane being set on fire as it escapes its long period of isolation under ice? Stevens' film doesn't find the same moments of unique insight and shepherding DiCaprio from one location to the other isn't exactly the height of in-depth journalism.
What is here that is new however is the tragic acceptance that we've already failed. DiCaprio is downbeat in the intro and Before The Flood proceeds with constant reminders that global warming has already occurred, species are already extinct, changes have already been left too long.
As Racing Extinction concluded, it may not be too late, full stop, but changing to energy saving light bulbs hardly seems action enough. It's another call for major change, another call for major action, even as the agreements it documents (the ones made in Paris) are already being ignored. No wonder this is a burgeoning area of film-making, and a film that seems to repeat many of the arguments made already. Apparently, we need to hear them again.
Before The Flood was streaming on Sky platforms, courtesy of National Geographic.