AGAINST AP­A­THY

STRATE­GIC CINEMA Stills from Ice on Fire

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suryapra­tim Roy

In the Net­flix com­edy Al­ways Be My Maybe, a girl chooses to stay on in Keanu Reeves’ home in­stead of leav­ing with her boyfriend:

- I’m not go­ing to miss my chance to talk to Keanu about the com­mu­nity cen­tre. You can’t change the world with­out in­flu­en­tial peo­ple.

- So you need to know fa­mous peo­ple in order to make a dif­fer­ence?

- It helps. Look at every­thing Leonardo DiCaprio has done for cli­mate change. - What has he done for cli­mate change? - He’s work­ing on it.

In his co-pro­duced Be­fore the Flood (2016), DiCaprio was an ob­server/ investigat­ive jour­nal­ist and took on the sci­ence, pol­i­tics and eco­nomics of cli­mate change. The film had a holier-than-thou feel to it. DiCaprio was hyper-vis­i­ble and not shy to pro­vide com­men­tary, com­par­ing de­for­esta­tion to Mor­dor. Now avail­able on Hot­star, Ice on Fire, co-pro­duced and nar­rated by DiCaprio, is dif­fer­ent pre­cisely be­cause he is un­ob­tru­sive. The film seems to con­sciously avoid the usual tropes of a cli­mate change doc­u­men­tary. Ad­mit­tedly, DiCaprio does nar­rate sternly as op­er­atic mu­sic ac­com­pa­nies mov­ing glaciers and in­ter­vie­wees speak with ei­ther an Amer­i­can earnest­ness or in Euro­pean

ac­cents about sci­ence.

But then some­thing hap­pens: the things sci­en­tists say eclipse the dra­matic de­vices. What kept me hooked was nei­ther the moral­ity play nor the scep­ti­cism of it, but what I was learn­ing—sev­eral species have changed their mi­gra­tory pat­terns due to changes in sur­face tem­per­a­ture; if you feed sea­weed to cows, there’s a 90 per cent reduction in their meth­ane emis­sions; there are com­pa­nies that can store car­bon diox­ide as stone; pro­duc­ing elec­tric­ity from sea­wa­ter is vi­able; and pho­to­syn­the­sis can now be ar­ti­fi­cially con­ducted in labs.

The film takes hold de­spite the nar­ra­tor and viewer. At the very least, this is strate­gic film-mak­ing, but I’d like to think this is also an in­ter­est­ing political com­ment: squab­bles on hu­man con­tri­bu­tion or pri­or­i­ties of the cur­rent US gov­ern­ment are quite un­in­ter­est­ing. Like DiCaprio, Don­ald Trump does not make a vis­ual ap­pear­ance, but his en­dorse­ment of coal fea­tures as an au­dio track very briefly.

When the film ends with DiCaprio declar­ing it’s up to each one of us, I’m mo­men­tar­ily tempted to pick a fight on north vs south, in­di­vid­u­als vs in­dus­tries. This temp­ta­tion passes and, in­stead, I google whether Biochar is in­deed the so­lu­tion.

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