FILM ANNOTATION: THE 11TH HOUR

1. Title, director and release year?
- The 11th Hour, Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen, 2007

2. What is the central argument or narrative of the film?
- This films main argument is that the misconception that we are not a part of nature, but better than, and separate from, nature has been our downfall. We are consistently degrading the environment because we have lost all connection to it, and see it as limitless resource that can be claimed. This stems from notion that we are the superior life form on Earth, when in reality 90% of what makes us human is not even human in origin. We are composed of many things found in nature and in other organisms/animals; and yet, we have convinced our entire species that we are entitled to use nature as we see fit. We have a transparent disregard for nature and the services it provides us, which has led to global catastrophe.

3. What sustainability problems does the film draw out?
- This film focuses primarily on the cultural implications of humankind. Unlike our ancestors, we are extremely disconnected from nature. The film points the finger at our corporate America and its lack of respect for the natural world. Our species is plagued with so many misconceptions that we are blinded from seeing what nature really has to offer; some of the misconceptions mentioned include the world having seams (i.e. another nation’s air/water pollution is not our nation’s problem) and nature is subject to property rights (i.e. the forest is on my nation’s land, therefore I can do with it whatever I see fit). We are a self-important species, and this is, in fact, hastening our demise.
- Like most sustainability documentaries, this film touched on the political obstacles the sustainability movement faces. One expert stated that we have failed to drive sustainable law in practice because we do not have the authority to get it done. We have a Constitution that caters to the wealthy few, which include the very politicians that are supposed to protect us and do what is best for us. These very politicians, however, respond to money (that industries can afford to pay), not the welfare of the global environment.
- This film an excellent job of going into detail about the environmental problems we are facing. It focuses on the implications of a single degree increase in global temperature, which range from ocean stagnation and the melting of the polar ice caps to the worst case scenario of Earth resembling Venus (searing and lifeless).

4. What parts of the film did you find most persuasive and compelling? Why?
- I found the optimism towards the end of the film very compelling and even refreshing. The film fosters the need for a new way of thinking, one that is still discouraged in many learning environments and industries. The idea that this generation has the responsibility of reimagining life as we know it is amazing to me. The animations and images that accompanied this portion of the film were very compelling because it showed that these ideas are not just talk; they are slowly becoming reality and we need more of this kind of reality.

5. What parts of the film were you not compelled or convinced by?
- I was very disappointed with the gloominess of the film. From the beginning of the film, I found myself feeling depressed about the immense amounts of problems that surround the current state of the Earth and all that needs to be done to fix it (in a short amount of time). It gave off the feeling of this generation having to take on mission impossible, all while racing against a ticking time bomb. The shocking images and statistics were even borderline frightening. Had it not been for my need to write this annotation, I may not have finished it. Although I was very pleased with the way it took a turn towards the conclusion of the film, I believe its initial impression was very discouraging and depressing.

6. What additional information does this film compel you to seek out? Where do you want to dig deeper and what connections do you want to make with other issues, factors, problems, etc.?
- Towards the end of this film, I was compelled to seek out what industries are available for sustainably educated workers. Many students graduating from college now are struggling to find a decent job, let alone a job that will foster their green education and ideas. Since many industries are still denying that global warming is even legitimate, I am curious to see where such students can turn for green jobs, so we can get this sustainable evolution going.

7. What audiences does the film best address? What kind of imagination is fostered in viewers? Do you think the film is likely to change the way viewers think about and act on environmental problems?
- Due to the film’s piling on of statistics and environmental education, I would believe this film’s target audience was people who were still in doubt about global warming. I felt that, for the majority of the film, they were trying to convince me that global warming was not something to believe or not believe, rather something that was proven, scientific fact (which I accepted long ago). Therefore, this film is not quite as conducive to fostering imagination as other documentaries; however, it does an excellent job of getting viewers to look closer at our way of thinking (and how it has corrupted a perfectly working system).

8. What kinds of action or points of intervention are suggested by the film?
- This film suggests that viewers change their attitudes towards nature. It asks that we look past nature as a resource from which we make the goods we buy, but to see nature in its natural form, in all its glory. Nature is a remarkable system that we very much take for granted and exploit for what we think is better. This film asks that we rethink our way of life and use our consumer power (‘consumer vote’) to show our leaders what we want and bring about change.

9. What could have been added to this film to enhance its environmental education value?
- In my opinion, this film went into too much detail with the environmental problems. This may be advantageous if the audience is environmentally unaware; however, I found it to be very lengthy and textbook-like (but you could say I am biased). Overall, the quality of the environmental education included in the film was superb. It was simple enough for even the most unaware of audiences to understand, and perhaps even a good refresher for audiences who have lost touch with the basics of environmental education.

[posted May 3, 2010]