16 Green Movies and Documentaries to Watch

Are you an environmentalist and a film buff? Or a parent or teacher wanting to broach the subject of environmental problems such as pollution or deforestation? There are a lot of environmental movies out there. Here are 16 of the best green movies:

Top Green Movies
An Inconvenient Truth

Environmental Movies for Grownups

Gorillas in the Mist (1988) – Sigourney Weaver stars in this biopic about naturalist Dian Fossey. Fossey studied the endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda. While immersed in her studies, Fossey discovers the tragic toll that poaching is taking.

Erin Brockovich (2000) – This is an underdog story about Erin Brockovitch, a real-life legal clerk and activist who takes on Pacific Gas and Electric, a large power company that had contaminated groundwater in a small California town. Brockovitch is portrayed by Julia Roberts, who received a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

Avatar (2009) – James Cameron’s blockbuster smash melds together real life indigenous beliefs and attitudes about stewardship of the environment, while delivering a parable about colonialism and corporate greed. And let’s not forget the jaw-dropping special effects and blue cat-people.

The China Syndrome (1979) – A classic about the dangers of nuclear energy that debuted only 12 days before the meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant and galvanized anti-nuclear activism nationwide. It stars Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon. You can stream this movie on Netflix.

Green Documentaries

Gasland (2010) – Last year’s Oscar-nominated examination of natural gas drilling, a rapidly expanding practice in America that is largely unregulated and, through the extraction technique known as “fracking,” can pollute groundwater.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) – Al Gore’s lecture can feel a bit like an extended PowerPoint presentation, but this environmental documentary was instrumental in bringing climate change back to the forefront of international discourse. It also provides a simplified, approachable way to understand the complex, interlocking ecological systems that could make climate change a very big problem going forward. It won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) – A look at the EV1, General Motors’ prototype plug-in electrical vehicle, and the corporate interests that kept it off the market. Auto-makers are once again producing electric cars, but this film exposes viewers to the greed and vested interests that can oppose positive environmental change.

No Impact Man (2009) – An inspiring story about a family’s trials and tribulations living off-the-grid in New York City. It follows the year-long experiment undertaken by Colin Beavan and his family to live with as little environmental impact as possible. You can stream this film on Netflix.

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance (1982) – This wordless documentary is named for a Hopi word that describes life “out of balance.” Frenetic industrial scenes are paired with shots of natural environments in this wordless exploration of modern life.

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2006) – This documentary shows how Cubans banded together after their top fuel supplier, the Soviet Union, fell.

Winged Migration (2001) – Featuring breathtaking photography, this documentary follows birds in flight as they migrate around the world.

Green Films For Kids / Families

The Lorax (1972) – An animated adaptation of Dr. Suess’s classic environmental tale of about industrial pollution. The short animated film contains appealing songs, as well as characters and scenery faithful to Dr. Seuss’s singular, beloved aesthetic and wordplay.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) – Hayao Miyazaki is best known for films such as Ponyo, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. This early film tells the tale of Nausicaa, princess of an agrarian kingdom that is threatened by environmental catastrophe and impending war. Some scary monsters may be a little too intense for very small children. Most of Miyazaki’s films have been dubbed and released in the U.S. through Disney.

Ferngully – The Last Rainforest (1992) – A feature release about an enchanted valley where animals and fairies live and their struggle to battle the deforestation that threatens their home. Robin Williams and Tim Curry are some of the voice talents featured in this film.

Wall-E (2008) – This classic from Pixar takes place on an Earth deserted and covered in trash. It’s about a speechless, trash-collecting robot, named Wall-E who falls in love with another robot named Eve and becomes an unlikely hero.

March of the Penguins (2005) – Details the harrowing life-cycle of Antarctica’s emperor penguins, who brave harsh weather and predators to travel to their ancestral breeding grounds where they court one another and raise their young. It’s narrated by Morgan Freeman. You can stream this environmental documentary movie that is suitable for both kids and adults on Netflix.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Top Green Movies list. You may also want to check out our list of Top Green Television Programs.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment with your favorite green movie or documentary with and environmental theme!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for putting together this list!
    I would also urge you and your readers to check out our
    new documentary called Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time. It is the first feature documentary about the most influential environmental thinker of the past century.

Comments are closed.