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Earth-Friendly Family Films

'The 11th Hour' (2007)

Ages: 13+

Synopsis: "The 11th Hour" opens with news footage of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes intercut with clips of insects scuttling, activists protesting, and hazmat officials swarming. Amid the commotion, journalist Kenny Ausubel considers the complex relationship between "human society and nature." It's no longer a question that we must save the environment, he says. Otherwise, "We're the ones who may not survive." Organized into sections introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio (who is also the film's producer), interviewees describe "what makes us human" -- that is, what makes us both like and unlike the other beings with whom we share the planet. They raise not only questions of responsibility but also historical situation. As psychologist James Hillman asserts, the notion that we are "separate from nature is in itself a thinking disorder." The film traces how the planet ended up in its current state and proposes some possible responses. Among them: buildings might be ecologically designed, fossil fuel companies might get on board and still turn a profit with new technologies, and individuals might use ecologically sound light bulbs. Making the crisis less abstract and gargantuan, proposals like these ask consumers to understand themselves in relation to the environment.

What Parents Should Know: Parents need to know that although this environmental documentary is very talky, tweens and teens may be interested thanks to producer/star Leonardo DiCaprio. The film addresses some complicated issues in language that may go over younger kids' heads. It also includes repeated, potentially upsetting images of environmental disasters and their aftermath, including floods (Katrina, Europe), wildfires, earthquakes, melting ice caps, endangered furry animals, and impoverished human populations. —Common Sense Media (Photo: Warner Independent)

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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