From filmmaker Fisher Stevens, Leonardo DiCaprio travels the world speaking to scientists and world leaders about the dramatic effects of climate change. Learn more about the film here. The full film is currently available for streaming across a number of platforms.

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • I believe this is an important film and am grateful that National Geographic is distributing it worldwide. Much of the information conveyed is well known – by those who know of it – but the vast majority of the viewing public are unlikely to be up-to-date on any of the material presented.

    Of singular importance: this film does not shy away from heartbreaking realities, or the naming of names of those politicians and corporations that are continuing to lead the planet towards biological ruin. For decades National Geographic strove hard to remain unengaged politically, parading neutrality as the ultimate fine finish on its perpetually gorgeous pictorial spreads and “objectivity.” That poise and orientation has, over the last several years evolved into specific and pragmatic orientations and outright points-of-view which are important like never before, when delivered in such singularly informed, richly nuanced and critically important venues like “Before the Flood.”

    Leonardo DiCaprio is superb in this Everyman role. Director Fisher Stevens clearly had a challenging two years+ selecting on-camera bites from a proliferation of rich material, all shaped and well-informed by screenwriter Mark Monroe. The numerous production executives and editorial team and musicians, not to mention all those interviewed, are excellent and compelling – from NASA to the UN, from the White House to the Vatican. The cinematography is outstanding.

    No feature documentary can be all things to all people. Nothing can. And there is no such thing as a carbon free feature film. But there are true cap-and-trade artistic efforts; educational choices to minimize violence where the global critical mass is shifted, if slightly, in the right direction. Moreover, I believe DiCaprio’s commitment to finding amelioration for the world’s ecological crises and the suffering of biodiversity is self-evident and needs no hyper-discussion. His commitment to the environment is unambiguous and real and spread across the film with total authenticity, as a Jean-Paul Sartre would use the word.

    That integrity, that desperate urgency begins and closes most effectively with DiCaprio’s description of Hieronymous Bosch’s triptych portraying Paradise and Hell (“Garden of Earthly Delights,” circa 1490-1510) and what it means personally to him (DiCaprio) by way of a graphic and haunting metaphor for our times. It is a chilling and brilliant way to remind all of us that there was, and could be again, a renaissance of poetic callings for virtue and ecological revivification.

    Much credit goes to DiCaprio and Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, Producer Brett Ratner and team (there are over a dozen executive producers, producers, associate and line producers) for disseminating this poignant 90-minute film on-line, for free. Bravo!

  • Richard Wilk

    I find the film makers strangely unconscious of their own roles in the very practices they decry in the film. DeCaprio has been making news in Belize because of his purchase of an island that is part of the fragile barrier reef system, mostly under “protection” as part of a World Heritage site. A few years ago he announced plans to build a sustainable eco-lodge on the island, and his original plans featured a whole string of over-the-water cabins (some of which encroached a marine park). After objections, the plan was modified, and last week the Environmental Impact Assessment was approved by the government. The design is supposed to set “new standards” for sustainable tourism. It is also going to be wildly expensive, far out of the reach of ordinary folk. The only Belizeans who will see it are the staff and servants, and maybe some high government officials.

    Local fishermen are concerned about the loss of grounds, but the most serious question is whether a tourism-based economy is ever going to be “sustainable.” In this case, virtually all the materials and hardware for the resort will be imported. Guests will get there by powered boat or helicopter. Most of the food and liquor served will be imported. Visitors will put even more pressure on local dive and snorkeling sites, not to mention their own sports fishing. Given the kinds of guests who can afford the place, I would expect some private jets at the Belize City airport. Then there is the demonstration effect – Coppola already has two resorts in Belize, and more than 50 other islands were sold off in the last few days of the previous government’s term in office. Most of the island resorts run on diesel generators, require extensive dredging and mangrove destruction, and operate with mostly foreign manager, guides and workers.
    The whole idea of a sustainable luxury resort is an oxymoron.