An Inconvenient ’11th Hour’ in which the Truth is told

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

Hollywood loves remakes. Every year we’re fed at least a dozen movies that we’ve seen before (this year we can look forward to remakes of “3:10 to Yuma” and “Swiss Family Robinson,” among others). But now it seems that Hollywood is so starved for material that it’s branching out in its quest to redo what’s already been done.

Now it’s remaking documentaries.

Fresh off the success of the environmentally conscious Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” Leonardo DiCaprio takes his stab at saving the planet in his new “we’re all gonna die”-style documentary, “The 11th Hour.” Featuring much of the same rhetoric, statistics and imagery as “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The 11th Hour” masquerades as a doppelganger.

In a strange way, though, I suppose it is kind of appropriate that Hollywood is recycling films about?well?recycling.

There are a few differences between the two films — most of which are for the better. “The 11th Hour,” despite presenting nearly all the same environmental arguments as “An Inconvenient Truth,” positions itself in a less exaggerated way. Yes, there are plenty of shocking environmental images in “The 11th Hour” (eat club, you extremely cute baby seal!), but in contrast to “Truth,” the film tries to appeal to our sense of humanity instead of our sense of fear. By replacing Gore — a shrieking doomsayer — with the more moderate, less-panicked statements of respected scientists and world leaders (including Stephen Hawking and Mikhail Gorbachev), the film has the potential to speak to a much wider audience and draw less heat to itself than “Truth.”

Sure, “The 11th Hour” still goes for the heartstrings — unashamedly opening with violent industrial images set to a mournful siren song. And it spews out unsupported facts and numbers by the truckload (I’m not sure, but I’d bet this film contains more uses of the word “percent” than any other film in history). But the film feels very sincere (if a little condescending) in its efforts to convince us of our impact on the planet. “We consume too much, and don’t care enough,” is the “The 11th Hour’s” main claim. And, as if to prove the point, no fewer than five bored-looking teenagers walked out during the screening I attended.

However, in spite of its best efforts to be friendly with its audience, “The 11th Hour” can’t quite hide an underlying disdain for the human race — occasionally sniping at overpopulation, the government (can’t miss the “wanted” poster with President Bush’s face on it) and civilization in general.

While watching the “The 11th Hour,” I couldn’t shake the feeling that a few of the scientists and experts presenting their opinions covertly hated humanity (and our environmental impact) with the fire of a thousand suns — and if they could they’d sterilize me, the people sitting behind me and everyone out in the lobby, too.

Filled with plenty of spiritualistic Earth worship, “The 11th Hour” still manages to deviate from standard environmental stances, arguing less that we are killing nature and more that we are killing ourselves.

“It’s the quality of human life that we’re concerned about,” says one scientist. “The planet will probably survive.”

Reasonable enough.

Now make sure you do your part and throw this newspaper in the recycling bin when you’re done with it.

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