“Before the Flood” Review: Why Leonardo DiCaprio’s Documentary Is A Must Watch

‘Before The Flood’ is one actor making the perfect use of star-power.

The movie begins on a very appealing note. The Garden of Earthly Delights is one painting which I have always admired after Malevich’s Black Square. Bosch’s masterpiece shows the horrors of greed. The second panel of the painting captures destruction of people by nature’s most hideous forms. DiCaprio sends a strong message  – if we destroy the earth, earth will find gruesome (or far more gruesome) ways to destroy us.

To an art lover, this was an absolute delight. Bosch’s pieces are very cryptic. In this one, minor details have as much information and meaning as Bruegel’s The Fall of The Rebel Angels. Maybe this was another way of conveying that we have to look at the “small things” like changing our lifestyle or reducing beef consumption to achieve harmony.

Okay, enough with the bragging. On to the point.

It wins…

Frankly, we have had enough classes in school on alternative sources of energy. The only place that “education” could travel was the examination room, in the answer sheets.

This is an era where we possibly have the largest number of organisations dedicated towards climate change, and yet we haven’t been able to change anything. DiCaprio’s journey starts from this point, and goes on to discuss about the failures of subsequent policies we have followed as a community on the earth.

Before the Flood, then becomes an investigative piece of cinema. It attempts to find reasons for this collective defeat.

before the flood

What one finds very interesting in the movie, and that really happens within the first thirty minutes of it, is that it discusses different debates on climate change that prevail in different countries.

India is not placed under this universal umbrella of carbon footprint and carbon taxes. Sunita Narain’s views on the carbon emissions in India are far different from what any UN leader would ever have thought. Micronesia faces a different threat, which the documentary brilliantly records.

Acceptance of the United States as the single largest contributor towards pollution is similar of the tone one of my favourite documentaries, Fire In the Blood, in which it was accepted that the US government’s regulation on medicines led to the death of 30 million people in the African subcontinent. Truthful criticism is often absent in many documentaries but

Truthful criticism is often absent in many documentaries but Before the Flood breaks away from that propagandist genre that declares the Third World as the root cause of all world problems, especially climate.

Before the Flood also explores how religious leaders can contribute very positively towards climate change.

before the flood

It was also interesting to notice how Leonardo drew the sensitivity he has towards climate change today during shooting of The Revenant. Though not much explored, but it makes a riveting story, on how experiences can shape opinions for the good.

…but it also fails.

However, what disappoints one is since the title of the documentary is based on the Biblical myth of Genesis, it would have been had it incorporated how local indigenous communities are being made to face the brunt of this climate change; being blamed as the major contributors of it, but in reality, their myths propagate environmental conservation. If the movie plays around myths – the myth of Genesis or the “myth” of climate change –

If the movie plays around myths – the myth of Genesis or the “myth” of climate change – absence of this kind of exploration of indigenous communities makes the documentary look rather incomplete in its beauty.

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(Indigenous people are only 4% of the world’s population but look after traditional territories that cover as much as 20% of the earth’s surface.)

In all, it is a great movie to introduce anyone to the one problem that will affect us all, indiscriminately.

You can watch it for free and in its entirety here:


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