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.

7 thoughts on “Green movies”

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  2. Another ‘activist documentary’ – Before the Flood, narrated by Leo DiCaprio. The Guardian’s review describes it as “a heartfelt, decent, educational documentary about the most important issue of our time – climate change – presented by A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, who proves his own commitment to the cause. … A serious, substantial piece of work.”
    See it (free!) via the official movie site,

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