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Movie Review: Don't Look Up - Büşra Öztürk


A recent movie, Don't Look Up, has been discussed and written umpteen since it emphasizes the climate change problem metaphorically. I would like to confer the counterpart of the metaphor in the movie and convey the ultimate message would like to be given to the audience from my perspective. Adam McKay, the director of the film, who generally likes to make movies about the noteworthy events of today in a suggestive way, covers global warming in this film. The main reason the movie is on the agenda is that it reflects in a satiric manner the insensitiveness and inadequacy of the actions taken towards climate change and global warming.


Before proceeding to the movie's content, it would be great to mention its remarkable feature, that is, the leading role belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio. This is because of his fame and because he has been an outspoken environmental advocate as a Messenger of Peace of the United Nations. He has many pioneering actions on fighting climate change throughout his career, and the preponderance one is that he established a foundation in 1998 to protect the Earth’s last wild places and fragile key species, implementing solutions to build a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world. Based on his role of being an environmental activist, he summarizes the purpose of the movie brilliantly in one sentence as ”If we are not voting for leaders or supporting everything that has to do with climate mitigation, we are going to have a fate very similar to the characters in the movie.”

The movie begins with a Ph.D. student discovering a comet. While calculating the path of the comet with his consultant astronomer, they find that it is actually heading towards the Earth and will strike after six months and 14 days. As soon as they learn that the impact of this star the size of Mount Everest will be powerful enough to wipe out all humans and living life from the Earth, they try to warn the authorities that they are facing such a major threat. Unfortunately, while they are trying to alarm everyone in order to prevent such a big disaster that is certain to happen in 6 months, they are not taken seriously sufficiently. The new phones, celebrity dramas receive more attention than the ending of the world since the media is terribly incompetent in informing the public. When they finally admit to destructing the comet, a CEO who is impactful as much as the president comes up with an idea to make a profit from the materials on the comet, and they wait until the comet reaches near to the world. However, the profit plan does not work as they expected, and the movie comes to an end as the world ends up.


The comet in the movie is actually a metaphor for all the problems that threaten the world, but it specifically points to the biggest of these threats, which is climate change. A similar situation in the movie actually happened in 2018, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was published, in which not only two scientists but also 2000 scientists cited more than 6,000 scientific research as evidence. In this report, they stated that the world would be irreversibly warmed in 12 years. In addition, according to the measurements in scientific reports, the last decade was the hottest ten years among the 140-year history, and each recent year is saved as a new record since it exceeds the temperature of the previous year. The common known outcomes of an increase in global temperature are disastrous happenings such as heatwaves, droughts, extreme precipitation, fire, etc., and we have begun to experience most of them, unfortunately.


The point that the movie has not reflected well is that demonstrating degeneration in politics is the reason for our failure to take action for climate change. According to the movie, a comet can be destroyed with one political decision. However, climate change can not be simply destroyed with one policy or one political move. While the solution is for the comet is destruction, the solution for climate change is the complete reinvention of our sociopolitical structure. Nevertheless, the movie is right that climate change will be a race we will lose unless sooner we take action. Although many countries have prospective plans to mitigate the climate crisis, we also need urgent policies that should be designed to change today's circumstances and save the world, commencing immediately as the ultimate message of the movie of articulating the urgency of climate change.