Earth Day falls on April 22, and it’s a day meant to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth.
Here are some movie suggestions for you and your friends to watch and commemorate the day, and maybe learn how you can help.
A couple provide a bigger picture of what’s happening, while others focus n specific problems and issues.
It’s not all documentaries either, as we’ve put a few animated feature films on the list.
'An Inconvenient Truth' (2006)
Former US Vice-President Al Gore’s documentary has been the subject of much criticism, but there’s no denying that it gives a good introduction to climate change and global warming. Besides providing an overview, the main message of the film is how a joint effort to preserve the environment can deter climate change, and that if we continue on our current path, things are definitely not looking good for future generations.
'The 11th Hour' (2007)
Produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary examines the state of the world like 'An Inconvenient Truth', and provides some practical ideas on how to solve them. It suggests that if there’s the will, we could turn the world around from catastrophe, and make it ‘our finest hour’.
'The Story of Stuff'
Available on the web at http://www.storyofstuff.com/, this 20 minute short animated piece narrated by Annie Leonard makes you think hard about all those things you buy. Is it all necessary? Where does it all end up? It makes one consider the problem of rampant consumerism, and should make you think twice when you want to buy that bag or junk those jeans. They’ve followed it up with other short films on other environmental issues, such as 'The Story of Cap & Trade' and 'The Story of Bottled Water', which are also highly recommended.
'The Cove' (2009)
Winner of Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards, this film shows what happens at a mysterious cove in Japan where an annual killing of dolphins takes place. It’s structured like a heist movie, with the filmmakers bringing a team and plenty of high-tech equipment together, as this environmental real-life version of 'Ocean’s 11' led by dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, obtains some shocking and disturbing footage.
'Food Inc.' (2009)
Also nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars, this documentary explores the issues and politics of food and what goes in it. This harrowing documentary explores how the demand for meat has changed how we keep poultry and livestock, and also how companies have lobbied and won concessions to continue making food the way they do. It includes interviews with authors Eric Schlosser ('Fast Food Nation') and Michael Pollan ('The Omnivore’s Dilemma'). May make you want to avoid that fast food joint after viewing.
What if Earth turned out to be just a giant garbage dump? In this Pixar animated film, a lonely waste-collecting robot tries to clean up mankind’s mess, but finds companionship from a sleek robot who also becomes a love interest. Earth was thrashed by a company called Buy and Large (BnL) megacorp, and the little robot turns out to be humanity’s best hope at restoring the world to a natural state.
'Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind' (1984)
Long before any US animation company looked at environmental issues, master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki was already tackling them. His first film with Studio Ghibli, Nausicaa, featured a world devastated by environmental ruin and populated by strange creatures, including giant beetles known as the Ohmu. The charismatic and kind young princess Nausicaa holds the key to survival for humanity in this harsh new environment.
'Ferngully: The Last Rainforest' (1992)
This Australian animated film features a sprite in the last tropical rainforest. She falls for a forester who threatens to cut down the forest, and shrinks him down to her size so he can get an understanding of the environment that he is about to destroy. The pair fall in love and band together to save the rainforest from destruction.
Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated as ‘a blessing, or as the breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds.’ This non-narrative film, made in 1992 by Ron Fricke, uses themes to evoke emotions through pure cinema, and explores humanity’s relationship to the world. It’s a true look at Earth and those who live upon it. Also in the same vein is the trilogy of films 'Koyaanisqatsi', 'Powaqqatsi' and 'Naqoyqatsi', directed by Godfrey Reggio, which use time-lapse and slow-motion cinematography for another intriguing look at the world we live in.
'Winged Migration' (2001)
This beautiful documentary shows the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents. Cameras were literally attached to the wings of birds, so that one can follow them as they fly. It’s an eye-popping spectacle that should give new insight into our feathered friends and might make you think twice when you complain about long commutes.