Happy Earth Week! In honor of the occasion, we present our favorite big screen, green-themed films. Some of the environmental messages are more subtle than others, but they're all there. Read this, watch some of the movies, then go plant a tree.
2013's Epic introduces us to the "Leafmen," miniature protectors of the forest. But of course, for every little Leafman intent on protecting the fragile ecosystem there is a monstrous "Boggan" who wants to destroy it. Thrown into the epic battle of good v. evil (preservation v. deforestation) is human Mary Katherine, who unwittingly shrinks herself down to Leafman size and decides to take up arms on the side of Mother Nature.
Revolution not only sheds light on crucial environmental topics and how we can save the planet, but also shows how past world events have taught us what we need to do to save the future. Revolution is not just about the environment—it’s a film about hope and inspiration. It’s a call-to-action with an uplifting message that tells us it’s possible to alleviate the damage already done.
Under the Sea 3D (2009)
Narrated by Jim Carrey, Under the Sea 3D navigates the deep blue sea waters off the coastal regions of Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific, all of which suffer the impact of global warming.
Arctic Tale (2007)
Arctic Tale tells the story of a polar bear and her cubs and a mother walrus and her calf, all trying to survive the harsh conditions in the Artic. The touching, heart-wrenching film is narrated by Queen Latifah.
Battle for Terra (2007)
The kid-friendly, animated action film Battle for Terra is not only about friendship and family life, but about survival, too, as it cleverly interweaves the importance of our Earth's natural resources.
Cool It (2010)
Released in 2010, the documentary Cool It starring Bjorn Lomborg explores alternative approaches to help combat our current global warming crisis. The film's tag line sums it up: "A light bulb won't solve global warming. This guy's bright ideas just might."
Wind power might be cheap but it comes at a heavy cost. The docu-drama Windfall highlights a small town in upstate New York that struggles with the construction of windmills. Feeling betrayed by a multi-national corporation who offered to revitalize their economy, residents must now fight to regain peace in their community.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Abrupt global warming wreaks havoc via weather-related disasters around the world in Roland Emmerich's special effects-laden The Day After Tomorrow. New York gets hit with a tidal wave, followed by hundreds of feet of snow. A climatologist (Dennis Quaid) tries to reach his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his friends as temperatures drop to fatal levels and the world enters a new ice age.
The Last Mountain (2011)
Director Bill Haney examines the coal mining industry in The Last Mountain, a film about an attempt to preserve the last Appalachian mountain in the U.S. The film introduces a passionate man on a mission, Bobby Kennedy Jr., who is determined to save Coal River Mountain and expose the economic power of the fossil fuel industry and its twisted democracy.
The Lorax (2012)
The Lorax, an adaptation of the Dr. Seuss children's book, tells about the plight of the environment as it concerns a land of magnificent creatures that could have only been envisioned by Theodor Seuss Geisel.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
An Inconvenient Truth, the granddaddy of environmental message movies, won the '06 Academy Award for Best Documentary, and more importantly, it's a fascinating, timely, relevant film about the issue of global warming, presided over by former vice president Al Gore. Directed by vet docu-filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.
The Cove (2009)
The Cove, the winner of 2009's Academy Award for Best Documentary is this mysterious, alluring and tragic look into the inner workings of Japan's dolphin-hunting culture. The film is compelling and absorbing, and is a first-rate call to action for changes within the Japanese fishing industry.
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Erin Brockovich is the story of a single mother (Julia Roberts) who becomes a legal assistant and discovers that a multi-billion dollar California power company has poisoned a small town's water supply. Despite her lack of experience and unprofessional manners, she helps the town's suffering residents by starting one of the biggest class action lawsuits in American history.
Revenge of the Electric Car (2011)
Debuting in April 2011 on the festival circuit is this follow-up to 2006's Who Killed the Electric Car. Chris Paine once again directs a movie about the fight to bring the electric car to the world market, at a time when alternative sources of energy are absolutely critical. Narrated by long-time environmental activist Tim Robbins.
In the distant future, we could all look like obese, motorized, wheelchair-bound humans floating around in space if we continue to trash Earth. Instead of pounding that message over our heads, Pixar went for a more subtle approach and focused on the poignant story of lonely robot WALL-E cleaning up the humans' mess, and his adventures as he falls in love with a more technologically advanced droid seeking plant life on the planet.
2010's documentary GasLand focuses on communities in the U.S. that have been impacted by natural gas drilling, and more specifically, a method known as hydraulic fracturing. The results are anything but pretty, but still must-see viewing.
Culled from his own 11-year journey, director Josh Tickell tells a positive story in Fuel about how we can replace every drop of oil with alternative solutions that include green jobs and other methods to keep our money at home. It's a fun, provocative, pragmatic film about solutions that are within our grasp.
Crude Impact (2006)
Crude Impact explores the interconnections between our varied and different cultures, and the future implications of our reliance on fossil fuels. Locales include the West African delta, the Amazon rainforest, Shanghai and more areas affected by the current state of industrialization.
No Impact Man (2009)
What would it be like to live one year having zero sustainable impact on the environment? The 2009 documentary No Impact Man follows Colin Beavan and his family as they attempt to do just that...if it can motivate any of us to even live a few similar days in their foosteps, then their mission's accomplished.
Medicine Man (1992)
Sean Connery with a ponytail notwithstanding, the environmental action adventure Medicine Man from director John McTiernan does feature some alluring locations in the Amazon rainforest, and well-intended messages about the balance between civilization and nature, and the benefits that our natural environment provides for science and medicine.
Comprised almost entirely of aerial shots of planet Earth, the amazing documentary Home provides a look at the diversity of life across our world, the impact that humanity is having on the ecological balance and the ways in which all living organisms are interconnected.
The Disneynature documentary Earth is a companion piece to the equally gorgeous Planet Earth project from the BBC, and portrays the life of various wild creatures and habitats across the globe -- polar bears, humpback whales, elephants and more are shown in their natural environments. The film also highlights the threats to these species and their survival due to the rapid changes in our current global conditions.
Food, Inc. (2008)
The documentary Food, Inc. from Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner takes a closer look at corporate farming in the U.S., and exposes the unhealthy dangers to animals and employees. A riveting, illuminating and terrifying look at how food is manufactured for mass consumption.
Of course Pocahontas is on our list! Not only is conservation a major theme in the film, but one of the central characters is a talking tree named Mother Willow. "How high will a sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you'll never know," Pocahontas sings to John Smith in an attempt to educate the European invaders on the wonder of mother nature. You really just don't get much greener than that.
African Cats (2011)
Samuel L. Jackson narrates the captivating African Cats about the animals that inhabit the savannah, from the cubs of a cheetah to the wildebeest they prey on. With much of the animals' space encroached upon by the increasing human population, the film also raises awareness of the important role national parks play in preserving wild life.
Born to Be Wild 3D (2011)
Disney explores the bond between humans and animals in Born to Be Wild, as the film documents caregivers raising orphaned elephants and orangutans. Teams rescue, rehabilitate and return the endangered species to the wild. The caregivers display great affection as they bathe the animals, play with them and attend to them as if they were their own children.
A Far Off Place (1993)
After her family is brutally massacred at the hands of poachers hellbent on killing the elephants on her family's wildlife preserve for their ivory, Nonni (a young Reese Witherspoon) must travel through the Kalahari desert to find help with the poachers hot on her trail. A Far Off Place depicts stunning African landscapes, wildlife survival tactics, and will make you seriously despise poachers more than you (hopefully) already do.
Astro Boy (2009)
Living in a Utopian city built above a polluted and desolate Earth, Astro Boy tells the heartwarming story of a powerful young robot searching for his place in the world. Issues of sustainability, overpopulation and the balance of the ecosystem are all explored, showcasing that even the most accomplished man-made advances still do not hold a flame to the wonder of the natural world, which must be cherished and protected.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a both a childhood staple and, obviously, the inspiration for James Cameron's Avatar. When a member of the logging company slashing and burning lush FernGully gets shrunk down by the pixies protecting the greenery, he becomes instrumental in helping the forest defeat Hexxus, an ancient evil spirit of destruction who wants to watch FernGully burn.
When humans suck Earth's resources dry, they head to flourishing planet Pandora, although the 10-foot Na'vi won't let them kill their Mother Nature without a fight. Avatar's luscious CG greenery, landscape and myriad creatures were an IMAX 3D spectacle that took 14 years for James Cameron to bring to the big screen.
Once you've watched some of these movies, think you'll be ready to go green? Click through for more ideas to our sister site, Green Is Universal.