It became clear to me how powerful films can be both as political instruments and as cultural influencers after hearing about how The 11th Hour saved an old rain forest. So I enlisted the expertise of Harold Linde, an environmentalist and media expert, to compile a list of the best environmental films ever made. Some people will disagree with the selection and others with the ranking of the items (in order of importance). Any disagreements or counter-arguments should be expressed in the comments section below.
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So, here we go…. For your Netflix queue, I hope this has given you some new ideas
10. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
Koyaanisqatsi, which means “life out of balance” in the Hopi language, was the subject of this film, which was directed by Godfrey Reggio and scored by Philip Glass. It combines breathtaking images of nature with the frenetic activity of a modern metropolis to create an arresting visual effect. The film is a contemplative look at our surroundings, both natural and man-made. When you’re not in the zone, it can be tedious.
9. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
There are two camps of opinion on whether or not this film had a significant impact on the environmental movement. It made a strong argument for human-caused global warming, but it also caused a rift in the country’s views on the issue. While Al Gore’s influence on environmental activism is undeniable, it’s difficult to envision what it would be like without him. For the first time, the documentary genre was given a chance to get its hands on $50 million in funding by a Powerpoint presentation.
8. The Day after Tomorrow (2004)
New York City is rocked by a sudden polar meltdown in this disaster movie, which is the perfect complement to Al Gore’s climate slideshow. A variety of crucial concerns are raised by the ultimate “what-if” epic, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal. How far are you willing to go? Is it worth it?
7. Whale Rider (2003) & Winged Migration (2001)
A documentary and a fiction film tied for seventh place in this year’s Best Documentary category for their ability to show us a level of closeness with the animal kingdom never previously seen on film. Whale Rider depicts the narrative of a girl who is destined to break out of her Maori tribe’s cultural constraints by becoming the chief of her clan. Flying with a flock can be simulated via Winged Migration (which makes use of trained birds, planes, and gliders).
6. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
This YouTube mashup of Fern Gully and Avatar proves how closely Avatar follows the Fern Gully storyline. Even if you think of it as a frivolous children’s film, Fern Gully has a lot to teach us about the dangers of pollution. Archetypal struggle between human want for resources and delicate rain forest environment was depicted for a generation of children (who are now in their twenties). Nature, of course, triumphs in the end.
5. Avatar (2009)
In just over two weeks, James Cameron’s 3-D epic has broken the $1 billion mark, setting a new record. Some have characterized Harold Linde’s excellent essay as environmental propaganda, but I think it’s really terrific.
4. Chinatown (1974) & Soylent Green (1973)
A generation’s anguish about a threatened environment and the sinister elements that put us all in jeopardy was summed up in these two iconic murder mysteries.
3. China Syndrome (1979)
Three Mile Island’s meltdown just 12 days after the debut of the first inconvenient film, China Syndrome, galvanized anti-nuclear protesters in America.
2. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Because it is a rare and important example of the “cross-over” environmental picture, I ranked this crowd-pleaser at number two. Because of the brilliant writing and Julia Robert’s flawless performance, the picture was a smashing success, and many moviegoers were unaware that they were viewing an environmental propaganda piece. Why? As a result of the fantastic plot. More films about evil corporations polluting local water supplies would be great if they could be made with the same level of amusement.
1. Wall-E (2008)
Walt Disney managed to depict a post-apocalyptic future devoid of life (save for a cute cockroach) and yet make it amusing with WALL-E, our top pick. It’s fantastic, visionary, humorous, and heartbreaking all at the same time. In spite of the fact that Pixar tried to downplay the environmental message in the media, it is evident that the last robot on Earth, even though mute, does in fact have a message to convey.