The 11th Hour: Narratives of Persuasion

Narrative Analysis of The 11th Hour

            The 11th Hour is a 2007 environmental documentary film focused on the current “state of the earth,” narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio (11th Hour Film). The film touches on everything from ocean stagnation and the political roadblocks preventing change to opportunities for the future. In this paper, I will present and analyze the multiple narratives presented in The 11th Hour, and how the decision to emphasize certain frames affected the overall effectiveness of this movie in trying to mobilize change.

The first narrative present in The 11th Hour is the story of the destruction of the Earth by humans. This story begins with the evolution and creation of our species, homo sapiens sapiens, and our ability to use our mind to affect our future. This ability, according to scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki, was the only way we could compete with the other animals surrounding us. Our mind has as a result taken us “out of balance with the rest of nature” (The 11th Hour). Humans began to see themselves as separate from nature: superior and able to dominate, further establishing humans as the antagonists. What happened as a result? Humans began to move away from solely using the energy being received from the sun to discovering and using the power of fossil fuels. Our “necessities” changed, and as time went on, our energy demand increased. The conflict is now reversing the consequences due to this change. We have reached a certain kind of climax where we cannot afford to spend any more time making the situation worse. The point of this narrative is to emphasize this tipping point – to make the audience recognize where we stand and what needs to be done.

Intertwined in this first narrative is another with a more direct blame. This narrative emphasizes politicians and big-money corporations as the antagonists, not only humans in general. Because of the wealth that big corporations such as Exxon have, they are able to manipulate politicians in order to get what benefits them. This authority has had the power to stop and limit important environmental legislation. A big part of this narrative is the idea of greed and selfishness, where people are only concerned about themselves and their prosperity, not necessarily the prosperity and health of our earth.

While the first main narrative presented was one focused on destruction, the second narrative that comes about is one of hope and inspiration. Instead of just seeing the problem of climate change as burden, the story that is being painted here is one of available opportunity. The solution that is presented through this narrative emphasizes the power of design. It is focused on our ability to design not only new technologies in order to influence our ability to use renewable resources as larger providers of energy but also redesigning homes and cities to preserve the state of our atmosphere and our wildlife. This includes the diversification of our transportation system, which is currently oil power-dominated.

When analyzing stories, it is important to analyze the role of the narrator. In this case, we have Oscar and Golden Globe recipient, world-renowned actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The value of having someone such as DiCaprio narrate a movie such as The 11th Hour is the ability to reach a huge audience, which is vital when the aim of the movie is to promote widespread change. DiCaprio was needed to reel the audience in, especially because the rest of the casts consists of various kinds of scientists, authors, and professors, not necessarily people that are known all around the world. DiCaprio’s role in this movie goes beyond being in the movie itself, he has now become a face of the movement – an advocate and a leader.

There are many other narratives that could have been told in The 11th Hour. The narratives that were chosen were strategic in their aim – to raise awareness and provide a solution. As shown through The 11th Hour, narratives have the power to inform, blame, and provide all at once.

 

References

“About the 11th Hour Film”. 11th  Hour Film. < http://11thhourfilm.com/>. Web.

Petersen, Lelia C., Nadia Conners. The 11TH Hour. Warner Independent Pictures. 2007.

 

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