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11 Why is the film Don't Look Up starring Leonardo DiCaprio causing such a stir?

Why is the film Don't Look Up starring Leonardo DiCaprio causing such a stir?


Since its release on Netflix on 24th December, Don't Look Up has been the talk of the town. Directed by Adam McKay, this feature film, a dark comedy and disaster movie combo, has triggered strong reactions on social media, particularly because of its disturbing resemblance to the current climate crisis.

Capture d'écran de la bande-annonce de Don't Look Up d'Adam Mckay Capture d'écran de la bande-annonce de Don't Look Up d'Adam Mckay
Capture d'écran de la bande-annonce de Don't Look Up d'Adam Mckay

In October 2020, more than a year before its release, Don't Look Up, the new film by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice, Ant-Man) was already much discussed. Though its completely off-the-wall plot had not gone unnoticed, it was above all its amazing cast that aroused the public's interest. Indeed, the film brings together a host of Hollywood stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet and performers Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi. The American director Adam McKay, who is used to big-budget movies featuring famous actors, has this time made a film combing dark comedy and disaster movie, about Kate Dibiasky, an astronomy student, and her professor, the astrophysicist Randall Mindy, who make the most astounding discovery: a comet, orbiting the galaxy, is heading straight for Earth. The two of them embark on a huge media tour to warn humankind of the terrible threat that is about to destroy the planet. But they are met with sarcasm, denial and inaction from politicians, the media and the general public.

Viewed over one hundred and fifty-two thousand times in the week following its release on Christmas Eve, Don't Look Up quickly caused strong reactions, particularly because of its uncanny resemblance with the current climate crisis. For many, the film illustrates the inability of political leaders, but also of individuals, to react adequately to the disaster of global warming, despite long-standing scientific warnings. In fact, only five days after the film's release, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article written by Peter Kalmus, an American climate scientist, who declared: "Don't Look Up is a satire. But as a climate scientist doing everything I can to wake people up and avoid planetary destruction, it's also the most accurate film about our society's terrifying non-response to climate breakdown I've seen." A powerful testimony relayed thousands of times on Twitter, including by Leonardo DiCaprio himself (known for being one of the actors most committed to the environment and the climate situation).

The hashtag #Dontlookup has even garnered a few hundred thousand tweets per hour since the film's release, with warnings, awareness, but also and always scathing and conspiratorial comments, comparing the plot of Don't Look Up to the current climate crisis. And yet, as recently as August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new alarming report on climate change, which concluded that disruption is affecting all regions of the world, at a very fast pace, and is escalating in an unprecedented way. This crisis is causing unavoidable consequences, such as rising air and ocean temperatures, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and a net increase in climate disasters. A worrying observation which, like the announcement of a comet hitting the Earth in Don't Look Up, is met with denial, derision or ignorance, or even personal interest on the part of certain politicians and other capitalists, such as the President of the United States Janie Orlean (played by Meryl Streep) and the tech billionaire Peter Isherwell (a character who is a clever mix between Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg) in Adam McKay's movie.



Don’t Look Up (2021) by Adam McKay, available on Netflix.