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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"THE 11th HOUR"

When it was released last year, The 11th Hour was somewhat unfairly dubbed ďthat other global warming documentary,Ē coming as it did on the heels of the Oscar-winning Al Gore-centered An Inconvenient Truth. In fairness, this is factually just as informative a film, with producer Leonardo DiCaprio appearing on screen to moderate the wide array of environmental topics being discussed. Available on DVD April 8 Ė in packaging made with 100% certified renewable resources, no less - The 11th Hour deserves to be seen by anyone who is even remotely interested in protecting our world.

The concept of the film, as verbalized by one of its many interview subjects, is that time is running out; the environmental crises facing our planet have become serious enough that if we donít act now, the results will be potentially catastrophic. You may think you already know this. You may have seen pictures of the melting icecaps and heard about the dangers of carbon emissions. Unlike An Inconvenient Truth, which acted as a crash course in environmental hazards, The 11th Hour assumes you walk in with some knowledge. The documentary therefore provides us not with one professorial stand-in like Al Gore, but with a series of experts who examine the problem from a variety of angles.

We hear testimony as to how our cultureís day-to-day lifestyle impacts the environment, how the earthís ecosystems respond, and speculation as to what might happen if things donít change, pronto. All this is highly enlightening, but my favorite section of the film is the final third, which spotlights some of the things that are already being done. When you hear about all the damage thatís being done to our ecosystem, itís easy to feel hopeless or pessimistic. The last section of The 11th Hour shows us scientists who are coming up with creative ways of working on the problem, including the construction of environmentally beneficial skyscrapers. Thereís also a CGI depiction of how a dance club could theoretically be powered by the movement its patrons, via special sensors under the floor that harness their energy.

If The 11th Hour is less entertaining than An Inconvenient Truth, itís only because it lacks a central figure as charismatic and self-deprecating as Al Gore to guide us. (DiCaprio appears only intermittently.) Still, the film has assembled experts, such as Stephen Hawking, Mikhail Gorbachev, and David Suzuki, who are as informative as they are well-spoken. I also felt like I learned something from watching the DVD which, in the case of the environmental movement, is what itís all about.

( out of four)

DVD Features:

The 11th Hour is available on DVD in widescreen format. As mentioned above, the packaging is 100% eco-friendly. Best of all is the price: in order to get this disc into as many hands as possible, Warner Home Video is selling it for the suggested retail price of just $4.99. Thatís right Ė a brand new feature film on DVD for less than five bucks.

The disc also comes with over an hour of additional interviews with leading experts, each of whom detail ideas for saving the planet. These segments are titled:

  • Natureís Operating Instructions & Solutions
  • Solutions We Have Right Now
  • Wonder of the World
  • Our Reactions in Face of Environmental Collapse
  • Religious Perspectives

    The five featurettes are all lengthy and heavily loaded with technical/scientific talk. They will be of most interest to viewers with an already substantial knowledge of environmental issues.

    The 11th Hour is certainly a topical film, and hopefully the low purchase price will encourage people to see it and start making some important changes in their lives, for the good of our planet.

    The 11th Hour is rated PG for some mild disturbing images and thematic elements. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.

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