For a limited time, you can tour the world with Leonardo DiCaprio, free of charge. Before The Flood, an advocacy documentary that grimly examines climate change around the planet, debuted in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and opened in theaters on October 21st. But National Geographic has now released the film — hosted by DiCaprio and directed by Fisher Stevens — on YouTube for free viewing. Embeds on Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, and the National Geographic site itself are also attempting to reach a wider audience. The film will be available online until November 6th.
The timing makes the filmmakers’ intentions entirely clear: this is an attempt to raise awareness of climate change issues before the November 8th election. In a post-film Q&A at TIFF, DiCaprio spelled out that intention: “We cannot afford, at this critical moment in time, to have leaders in office that do not believe in the modern science of climate change,” he said. “We need to galvanize the world community to put in office people who are not only believers in the science, but are going to take rapid action immediately. And that’s why we wanted this film to come out before the next election, because as we’ve cited in this film, the United States is the largest contributor to this issue. We need to set the example for the rest of the world to follow.”
Neither the film nor the Q&A focused on stumping for a specific candidate. But DiCaprio is certainly aware of the 2016 presidential candidates’ well-publicized stances on climate change, which makes the references to “believers in the science” into a blatant subtweet. For the record: Donald Trump has claimed global warming was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” and that it’s “expensive bullshit” and a “hoax.” Hillary Clinton acknowledges climate-change science and has advocated clean energy, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and cooperation with the Paris Climate Accords agreement. Jill Stein has made fighting climate change a central plank of her candidacy. Gary Johnson has said that combating climate change is a waste of money, and has flippantly defended a free-market stance on multiple occasions by saying climate change is inevitable, because “In billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth.” For what it’s worth, though, DiCaprio has been a Clinton supporter, though he recently pulled out of hosting a fundraiser for her campaign at his home — according to his management, because he was too busy completing Before The Flood to participate.
The film itself, as The Verge’s Michael Zelenko pointed out in his TIFF review, is an exceedingly broad, softball look at the effects of climate change around the world. It’s also intended to be accessible and energizing, with action sequences, interviews with Elon Musk and Barack Obama, and shots of DiCaprio hand-feeding baby animals and going narwhal-watching. The film is gauged to present climate science to a general and possibly resistant audience. And it’s intended to provoke global action more than individual action. “The one thing that I grasped from this entire journey is that it has moved way beyond personal action,” DiCaprio said at TIFF. “This really involves… a conscious evolution of our species.” Specifically, it seems, a conscious evolution at the ballot box.
For now, you can watch the film on social media, at National Geographic, or right here: