20 April 2008 | vovazhd
An inspiring documentary with an important cautionary message
I went into The 11th Hour expecting a straightforward, didactic documentary summarizing the current threats from global warming. If not for a momentary interest on the subject, I would have probably passed it up altogether. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was extremely nuanced, being an insightful and scientific investigation on mankind's role in global warming.
Rather than spurting out random facts and events (like most documentaries), The 11th Hour uses a wide range of viewpoints to build a conceptual foundation that explains the general scientific impression of global warming. Some of the ideas may end up being wrong, but all of them are at least plausible. The different speakers include Paul Hawken, Wangari Maathai, Mikhail Gorbachev, and (my favorite) Stephen Hawking. There are many different ideas communicated, but they are all based on the same underlying principle. The structure of the documentary is very dialog heavy, which can feel overwhelming at times but is guaranteed to bring forth new knowledge to viewers.
The main ideas are nothing new for most people educated on environmental news, but the speakers submit some profound new ways of looking at them. A common theme was relating Earth's existence to the human civilization's existence. If we continue to progress global warming, the planet might be able to heal itself eventually, but only once humans are gone. One thing I found especially interesting was the consideration of the economic value of nature, which ended up being roughly two times greater than the world's industrial wealth.
My only significant complaint is that the film is often rough in style, organization, and editing. The images sometimes feel out of place or even distracting from the message. Occasionally, the images rapidly jump between completely different environments, which can be hard to process. To be sure, most of the cinematography was excellent, but it just wasn't put together in the best way. Overall, it could have been more focused.
The 11th Hour is an insightful and inspiring documentary on one of the most important topics to date. It provides a balanced and comprehensive conceptual overview on the human role in global warming, but also expects viewers to take this knowledge out of the theater and implement it into their own lives. It is extremely educational experience.