1. The Lorax (2012)
Although, this is a pretty average movie, I remember getting teary while watching the opening scene for the first time. It opens up to "Thneedville" a city that's made of plastic, and the people who live in it, like it that way! They like fake things and even manufacture their trees. They "don't want to know, where the smog and trash and chemicals go". They thank the Lord for new parking lots. "Parking Lots!" The song ends by exalting people who perpetuate the problem and sell it as success. You can watch the opening scene here:
I remember getting emotional because although this is extreme, it's social commentary on many developed and developing nations.
The movie ends with the classic Dr Seuss quote, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Thumbs up for emotional connection.
2. Home (2009)
This is one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen. I first encountered it while looking at TV's in an electronic store, they were playing it as display content, so I asked what was playing and bought a copy (cool story). The entire documentary is shot from the sky and the documentary makers have made the entire documentary available for viewing on YouTube, although only up to 720p. If you can get your hands on the BluRay, I highly recommend it.
Some of the landscapes are so beautiful, they look other-earthly. The female narration and culturally diverse soundtrack is also refreshing for documentary work like this. Although the film's tone is serious, it leaves us with hope.
Thumbs up for visual impact.
3. Planet Earth (2006)
The most expensive documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, this TV series narrated by Sir David Attenborough explores 11 different biome or habitats on Earth. It gives character to the environments and those who inhabit it. It was also the first documentary from the BBC to be filmed in HD.
4. Erin Brockovich (2000)
This movie is a rare and important example of the "cross-over" environmental film. Thanks to a great script and a stunning performance by Julia Roberts, the film was a smash success and many of the millions of moviegoers who saw it were scarcely aware they were watching a piece of environmental advocacy. Why? Because the story was good. If only we could have more films about evil corporations polluting local water supplies that are this entertaining.
5. Avatar (2009) / Fern Gully (1992)
Someone put up this perfect mashup of Fern Gully & Avatar on Youtube to prove just how closely Avatar follows the Fern Gully story. Fern Gully, though you may think of it as just a kids' film, really is one of the most important environmental films ever made. It framed for a generation of kids (who are now in their 20s) the archetypal conflict between man's hunger for resources and the fragile rain forest environment. Same goes with Avatar.
6. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Somehow Al Gore made a powerpoint interesting enough to generate 50 million dollars! No matter what side you sit on about climate change, it's hard to imagine what the climate advocacy movement would be without Al Gore at the podium.
7. WALL-E (2008)
Probably one of my favourite films of all time: Amazing, visionary, hilarious and sad — Pixar storytellers managed to paint the picture of an apocalyptic future dominated by endless landscapes of garbage and completely devoid of life (save a loveable cockroach) and make it entertaining (wow that was a long sentence). It is clear that the last robot on earth, though mute, does indeed have a message. "Eeeeeva!"
Have any thoughts about this? What would be your favourite films about the environment?