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Case Number 13435

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The 11th Hour

Warner Bros. // 2007 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 17th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Franck Tabouring urges everybody to watch this film, no matter what their position on global warming.

The Charge

Turn mankind's darkest hour into its finest.

Opening Statement

I think it's pretty safe to say that our planet is not in its best shape, and a little help from us humans is strongly encouraged. But what exactly is endangering Earth? How did we get this far? Most importantly, what can we do? These are just a few questions you'll comes across in The 11th Hour, a documentary intended as a way to raise awareness and persuade people to take action against a possible ecological collapse. Unfortunately, the flick failed to reach out to the masses and only earned a little over $700,000 at the box office, which is clearly not enough to make a difference.

Facts of the Case

In an attempt to change the way most people perceive nature, The 11th Hour focuses mainly on the potential collapse of the ecosystem, examining in detail the several causes of the planet's much-feared ecological destruction. Featuring numerous interviews with expert scientists, professors, authors, environmentalists, and historians, the film emphasizes the current, critical state of life on Earth and calls on each and everyone of us to recognize the danger and do something about it. Global warming, droughts, extreme weather conditions, and dirty oceans are just a few examples directors Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen focus on in building their arguments. If there's one main thing we learn from this film, it's that the desperate condition of our beloved, blue planet requires immediate attention and action.

The Evidence

So what does the film really tell us? Most of what the interviewees discuss in The 11th Hour offers viewers a deeper insight into the state of nature and mankind's strong impact on the health of the planet. No matter what happens to future generations, they say, the environment is always likely to survive. From interesting definitions of life to reasons why humanity is so special, they examine a wide variety of issues tied closely to the main thematic of the film. The fact that humans are the only ones to really affect the future is one of the flick's many messages. The first major cause of concern the film addresses is that humans are not in harmony with the planet anymore. Experts point out that the people value the economy more than nature in today's world, which is why the dangers of climate change and oil are often forgotten.

Most of the scientists the filmmakers interviewed don't blow smoke about what they have to say. They clearly emphasize that whatever your position is on global warming, the planet is warming and the evidence is right there. Droughts and floods prove it's looking bad and, according to worst-case scenario theories, millions of environmental refugees seeking a home could soon become a reality. Transitions between major themes in the film are narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, who also produced the documentary. He leads from theme to another, touching on issues such as the decreasing quality of ocean water and the melting of the Arctic ice. On a different note, the film also tries to identify the forces blocking change. Some interviewees blame the government for the absence of action, but I find it hard to believe this is the only reason why people don't recycle or care enough about the environment.

Is all this any good? While The 11th Hour is a frightening overall look at the situation of the planet, it is also quite an important one. As most of the scientists point out, it's not too late to take action, but timing is crucial. The film may not necessarily change your life, but it does a great job at clearing up misunderstandings about climate change, helping every interested viewer understand the problem humans will have to face in the future if nothing will change in people's behavior toward nature. Some of the interviewees observations and comments pull you straight in and won't go of you long after the film is over. Others discuss issues most of us are probably familiar with already. Those of you who watched An Inconvenient Truth, for instance, may find some similarities in the content between the two documentaries.

Besides the rather simple interview segments, the film also comprises a horde of impressive shots of floods, clouds, and storms. The directors really emphasize the beauty of nature via dazzling footage from around the world, which not only creates welcomed transitions between the interviews, but also injects the film with variety. The 11th Hour is indeed a little long at times, but the combination of panoramic shots, illustrated graphs, and DiCaprio's narration comes in handy every time the interviews risk becoming too monotonous.

I was really impressed by the quality of the picture, especially the splendor and sharpness of the numerous shots of tropical forests, Arctic waters, and snow mountains. The audio transfer is clean as well, and the many voiceovers and interviews are loud enough and clear to understand.

As far as special features are concerned, the DVD includes five featurettes with lengthy interviews about a variety of issues closely linked to the feature film. Although some of these segments are pretty enlightening, they will probably only appeal to those deeply interested in the scientific and philosophical approach to the complexity of life and danger Earth is facing. The best piece is "Solutions We Have Right Now," which focuses on the total cost we would have to cope with to restore the world. Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, reveals some compelling ideas about what we could do to stabilize the ecosystem. Other interesting featurettes are "Nature's Operating Instructions and Solutions" and "Wonders of the World," but they all seem like dry lectures without visuals or variety.

Closing Statement

The 11th Hour takes pride in making a lot of environmental statements. Even the DVD packaging itself is one, because the disc comes wrapped in a slim case made with "100 percent certified renewable resources." All in all, the film is an interesting expose about what happened to our planet over the past years, what is bound to happen and what we can do to avoid a disaster. If you are seeking answers to these questions, this is definitely a must-see. It makes you want to think about nature more, and that's a good start. If they could somehow show this to everybody on the planet, chances are people would become more aware of what is happening to their only home in the universe.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 94
Audio: 94
Extras: 75
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• "Nature's Operating Instructions and Solutions"
• "Solutions We Have Right Now"
• "Wonder of the World"
• "Our Reactions in the Face of Environmental Collapse"
• "Religious Perspectives"


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• Official Site

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