Why Hollywood Cares: Top 6 Environmental Movies

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that LA, with its carbon emissions and dense fog, couldn’t give two hoots about the environment, climate change or global warming. You’d also be forgiven for believing Hollywood studio executives are more concerned with cash-counting that climate changing.

But things are changing for the better. In an industry that is associated with bloated budgets, excessive special effects and glossy artifice, stars, directors and studios seem now more concerned than ever about the environment.

Of course, it looks good for anyone in Hollywood to boast about their eco-friendly credentials – it’s good for the image and it’s the fashionable thing to do.  But the superficial visage of style appears to be giving way to a certain degree of substance: “green” carpets at the Oscars and organic fruit for actors on set, for example. Small steps maybe, but it’s a start.

And some of that eco-consciousness is ensconcing itself in the films themselves…


1) An Inconvenient Truth

Probably the most famous environmental movie of recent times, Al Gore uses every argument and trick in the book to convince us of the impending end of the world if we don’t cut down on our deodorants and recycle our cereal boxes.

Flippancy aside, however, he does present an intelligent, thoughtful, articulate and persuasive argument as to why we’d all better smarten up when it comes to the future of planet Earth, or else face an inevitable wrath of Mother Nature. If you’ll pardon the expression, it whipped up a storm when it was released in 2006 and remains just as controversial today.


2) Koyaanisqatsi

Derived from the Hopi language phrase meaning ‘life out of balance’, Godfrey Reggio’s early meditation – or should that be assault – on the possibilities of the world and the environment was particularly prescient when it was released in 1982.

With no plot, characters or dialogue, it remains potent, visceral, affecting and totally unforgettable as it juxtaposes images of chaotic city life with the tranquil imagery of nature. Set to Philip Glass’ music, it’s the first in a trilogy, and the best.


3) Wall-E

Animation has tackled environmental themes before but probably not as well as this ingeniously-told tale from Pixar. Though it paints the picture of an apocalyptic future dominated by endless, barren, rubbish-strewn landscapes, where humans are the bad guys, the studio tried to downplay the accusation of any preachy message or environmental theme, but there’s definitely one to be had if you want to read it that way.


4) Avatar

James Cameron’s self-admittedly eco-friendly effort is a film that unashamedly wears its heart on its sleeve and picks no bones about hammering home the central theme that, no matter what weapons you throw at it, nature will always win – Avatar combined spectacular action, amazing visuals, and a noble, pertinent, contemporary ‘green’ message.


5) The Day After Tomorrow

Roland Emmerich established himself as the master of the modern disaster movie with Independence Day and terrified the world into yet another state of Armageddon-themed apoplexy with this. The world is plunged into a new Ice Age, New York is engulfed by a gargantuan tidal wave, and Jake Gyllenhaal runs for his life. And it’s all based on some kind of scientific, hypothetical fact. Apparently.


6) Gorillas in the Mist

Based on the true story of naturalist Dian Fossey’s expedition in to the Rwandan jungle to study African mountain gorillas, this is a heroic, moving and uplifting story that depicts one woman’s dedication and obsession to help protect, and ultimately save, a species. It’s truly heart-wrenching and a must-see for anyone passionate about helping not just the green environment, but the animals that live in it!


So, contrary to popular believe, film makers can dig deep into their collective consciousness and craft movies that intelligently and articulately address important global issues.

Can you think of any great environmental films?

  • Estelle Page

    Estelle Page is a UK-based interior designer with a passion for all things green. From growing her own herbs and vegetables to incorporating sustainable, eco-friendly materials into her designs for clients, she tries to lead an environmentally-friendly life without compromising on comfort or style.

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