At last, a mainstream feature film about climate change has been released – and it’s a comedy!
Don’t Look Up is a science fiction film in which two American astronomers discover that a comet is about to hit Earth and destroy humanity in exactly six months and 14 days.
Watch this film if you possibly can. It will make you laugh and probably also make you cry. But it highlights brilliantly the most burning issue of our day.
Don’t Look Up was released in selected cinemas in December and has since been streaming on Netflix, where it set a new record for the most viewing hours in a single week
The impact of the comet is an allegory for the impending impact of the climate crisis and the film a satire on the failure of those with influence to take action. The American President, with mid-term elections coming up, decides to ‘Sit tight and assess’, two chat-show hosts ask the astronomers to ‘Keep it light, fun …………. ‘, and give them far less air space than the love life of a pop star appearing on the same show. Only when the comet is visible to the naked eye, just a few days before impact, does anyone take it seriously and a missile is launched to deflect it, only to be turned round when the comet is found to contain trillions of dollars’ worth of rare-earth elements. A subsequent attempt to break it into smaller pieces fails and, even then, a major concern is whether the Superbowl will take place that year!
As the comet gets nearer, the deniers have a field day with their campaign ‘Don’t Look Up’ to prevent the public from seeing the truth that’s now staring them in the face.
The film is written and directed by Adam McKay, who has expressed his surprise that more films about the climate crisis have not been made. It is studded with Hollywood stars who all give brilliant performances; Leonardo di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence play the two astronomers, Meryl Streep is the President, Cate Blanchett is one of the chat-show hosts, Mark Rylance gives the performance of a lifetime as a tech magnate and Ariana Grande has a delightful cameo as the pop singer with the sensational love life.
The whole film is imbued with a dark gallows humour which plays an important part in getting its message across. Some critics found it lacked subtlety but scientists have reviewed it very favourably. It has been named one of the top ten of 2021 by the National board of Review, received four nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and six, including Best Picture, at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Is humanity saved in the end? You’ll have to see the film to find out. Suffice it to say that after all the closing credits, the President’s son emerges from a pile of post-impact rubble, calling for his mother, taking a selfie and calling out ‘Don’t forget to like and subscribe’. It appears that, come what may, some people remain reluctant to change their behaviour.