Human, a new movie by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the creator of Earth from Above and Home (see this post, July 2012) has just released a new documentary, Human, which explores the human condition through a sequence of personal testimonies interwoven with aerial views of the world. As such, it has similarities with his 6 Billion Others (2009).

Screenshot from Vol 1 of "Human"
Screenshot from Volume 1 of “Human”

You can read about it at Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB, although it was so new at the time of writing that neither had much to say about it. A positive review of it here concludes:

“Thanks to the unconditional and exceptional support of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, French TV France 2 and Google, this project produced by the GoodPlanet Foundation, will be accessible to the widest possible audience throughout the world. On September 12, Human Day, there will be a screening at the United Nations and it will be screened at the Venice Film Festival. Google will make the film available through dedicated YouTube channels with content in English, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and French. These channels will offer three 90-minute films, forming a natural extension of the HUMAN project.”

The three parts of the (extended) movie are here: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, while the movie’s home page and trailer can be found here.

A few more green movies

Additions to the lists of green movies I posted a couple of years ago, under the same headings I used then:

Inspirational ‘art’ documentaries

Samsara 2012 (Rotten Tomatoes) (Internet Movie Database) (Wikipedia) Samsara reunites director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson, whose award-winning films Baraka and Chronos were acclaimed for combining visual and musical artistry. Samsara is similar; the “Critics Consensus” on RT is that Samsara is a tad heavy-handed in its message but that its overwhelmingly beautiful imagery more than compensates for any narrative shortcomings.

(Note that there is an older movie of the same name, released about 2001 and telling the story of a Tibetan monk who renounces his vows to marry an attractive peasant girl. It’s a beautiful movie but not a green one; read about it on RT if you want to know more.)

Ashes and Snow 2005 (IMDB), a film by Gregory Colbert, uses both still and movie cameras to explore extraordinary interactions between humans and animals. The 60-minute feature “is a poetic narrative rather than a documentary and aims to lift the natural and artificial barriers between humans and other species”.

Activist documentaries

The Majestic Plastic Bag – a mockumentary 2010 (IMDb) A very different take on a serious issue, The Majestic Plastic Bag is a professionally produced short about the “life cycle” of the plastic bag. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, it gives us the chance to smile and then pause for thought about how we are contributing to the great Pacific garbage patch every time we use a plastic bag. Go to Youtube and sit back – it’s only four minutes long.

Amnesty has recently compiled a list of excellent movies with human rights themes – ten in their main list and more in the comments. Those I have seen give me confidence in saying that all of them will be worth watching – though seeing all of them in a short period may be inadvisable.

Green movies

This list of green movies – movies with environmental themes – is a spin-off from an article about fiction with environmental themes, Green and Good, which I wrote for Viewpoint on books for young adults earlier this year (Vol 20, Nr 2, Winter 2012).

The movies I found fall neatly into four groups: drama/entertainment, activist documentaries, nature documentaries and (for want of a better term) inspirational ‘art’ documentaries. This post covers the first two categories; the others are here.
I haven’t said much about any of the movies but have linked to their pages on two great movie review sites, Rotten Tomatoes (RT) and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).


Silent Running 1972 (RT) (IMDb) Saving the last of Earth’s plants in an interplanetary ark.

Soylent Green 1973 (IMDb) (RT) Dystopian police procedural set in an overcrowded, resource-poor future.

Dune 1984 (RT) (IMDb) Ecology was a central theme of Dune in its original conception, the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, although it was less important to most of the rest of the series and nearly invisible in the movie, TV series and computer games spawned from it. Wikipedia/Dune franchise provides the best way to navigate the maze of Dune books, movies and games. Star Wars, incidentally, took a lot of ideas from Dune (without admitting to doing so) but the ‘green’ elements were lost in transit.

The Day after Tomorrow 2004 (RT) (IMDb) is a very bad movie and one that got its science ludicrously wrong, but it has to be included here because of its catastrophic-climate-change plot.

Avatar 2009 (RT) (IMDb) borrowed heavily from some very good old SF books (without admitting to it) and dumbed them down in the process but the visual effects are great and its heart is still in roughly the right place.

Activist Documentaries

An Inconvenient Truth 2006, concurrently with the book (RT) (IMDb)

Gasland 2010 (RT) (IMDb) Fracking for CSG in the USA. One of the scariest nonfiction movies I have ever seen, and should be compulsory viewing in CSG exploration areas in Australia.

Who Killed the Electric Car 2006 (IMDb) (RT) General Motors’ sleek EV1 (the electric car whose demise it laments) now looks more like a false start than a unique opportunity lost, but there are several lessons to be learned from the movie.

Bag It 2010 (IMDb) The perils of plastic. Entertaining and instructive.

The Cove 2008 (IMDb) (RT) Dolphin slaughter in Japan; confrontational on the ground and in the viewing.

The Hungry Tide 2011 (home page)  Sea-level rise and its effects on low-lying Pacific islands as seen through the eyes of residents. I wrote about it at greater length here.

More please: please send me your suggestions and I will add them to the list.