Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, The 11th Hour is a persuasive and informative documentary. It discusses the damaging impact of humankind on the planet. The movie presents the views of over 50 of the world’s leading scientists and environmental activists. these include David Suzuki, Stephen Hawking and Wangari Maathai. The opening stages of the movie depict weather-related disasters and their devastating effects on human populations and the environment.
The movie shows how initially sunlight was the earth’s sole source of energy. Humans relied on sunlight to grow crops, produce clothing and provide warmth. The sun provided an energy source that allowed humans to live in balance with nature and the environment. The movie then discusses the way in which the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels have contributed to the poisoning of the atmosphere, global warming and planetary imbalance.
The final portion of the movie focuses on how humans can work to avoid extinction.
Ecological disasters; extinction of the human race
The movie shows some violence to animals, including a man spearing a fish and a man brutally clubbing a seal to death.
Content that may disturb children
The movie includes images of ecological disasters, people in peril, and harm to animals, which children could find disturbing. For example:
- Hurricane winds blow cars about, and people run around scared and panicking.
- We see a rear view of a man’s emaciated body with his ribs and spine pressing tight against his skin.
- Fires rage through forests.
- We see mushroom cloud images of an exploding atomic bomb.
- People are trapped in or wade through floodwaters.
- Dead bodies are piled on a tray-top truck.
- Houses explode from the force of hurricane winds and the roofs of houses are blown off.
- Cars float in floodwaters.
- We see emaciated cow carcasses.
- A bloated human body floats in floodwaters.
- A polluted lake burns.
- A crocodile eats and swallows a large fish.
- We see decaying sea creatures on a beach.
- Burning oil fields send up billowing clouds of black smoke.
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the following themes:
- the extinction of the human race
- a future where planet Earth resembles the planet Venus, with temperatures as high as 482° Farenheit and with sulphuric acid for rain
- the idea that the planet is sick and it might already be too late to turn the situation around
- the way humans are destroying themselves
- climate change as the biggest danger humans have ever faced
- more than 150 million environmental refugees by the middle of the 21st century
- the instability of living systems
- 55 000 species becoming extinct each year because of humans.
Some children in this age group could also be disturbed by the scenes and themes descibed above.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
Ideas to discuss with your children
The 11th Hour is a thought-provoking documentary that explores the reasons for the world’s current state of environmental crisis. Some narration is provided by Leonardo DiCaprio, but the main commentary is by world-acclaimed scientists and environmental activists. Children under the age of 10 could find the film uninteresting and beyond their ability to comprehend.
The main messages from this movie are that the people and governments of the world must act now to alter the current environmental crisis. Otherwise, it will be too late. We need to develop an awareness of the relationship between humans and nature.
You could discuss with your children how your family can reduce use of fossil fuels and waste production while increasing use of renewable resources and methods of recycling. You could also talk about the negative effects of selfishness and consumerism.