While there will always be films created purely for entertainment, there are so many that share meaningful and often thought-provoking messages about our planet and the consequences of the man-made damage it faces. From melting ice caps to minimalist living, below is our list of documentaries, movies and kiddies’ movies with environmental themes.
Exposing the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture through drones, hidden & handheld cameras, the feature-length film explores the morality and validity of our dominion over the animal kingdom.
Feature-length version of the documentary TV series Planet Earth (2006), following the migration paths of four animal families.
Earthlings is a 2005 American documentary film about humankind’s total dependence on animals for economic purposes.
4. More Than Honey
An in-depth look at honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia.
4. My Octopus Teacher
An incredible story about a man and his friendship with an Octopus – made in South Africa.
Earth and climate change
5. A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash
A theatrical documentary on the planet’s dwindling oil resources.
6. An Inconvenient Truth
A former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
7. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
A decade after An Inconvenient Truth (2006) brought climate change to the heart of popular culture, the follow-up shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.
8. Before the Flood
Before the Flood, presented by National Geographic, features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, traveling to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand.
9. Chasing Ice
Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet.
10. Planet Earth
David Attenborough celebrates the amazing variety of the natural world in this epic documentary series, filmed over four years across 64 different countries.
11. The 11th Hour
A look at the state of the global environment including visionary and practical solutions for restoring the planet’s ecosystems.
12. This Changes Everything
Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.
13. Tomorrow (Demain)
TOMORROW is not just a film, it is the beginning of a movement seeking to encourage local communities around the world to change the way they live for the sake of our planet.
Jeremy Irons sets out to discover the extent and effects of the global waste problem, as he travels around the world to beautiful destinations tainted by pollution.
Virunga is the incredible true story of a group of brave people risking their lives to build a better future in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten and a gripping expose of the realities of life in the Congo.
16. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.
17. GMO OMG
GMO OMG director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t gain back?
18. Food Choices
This documentary follows filmmaker Michal Siewierski as he explores the impact that food choice has on people’s health, the health of our planet and on the lives of other species sharing our world.
19. What The Health
What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.
20. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
Examining the many levels of minimalism by looking inside the lives of minimalists from various walks of life.
21. How to Change the World
In the 1970s, a group of activists who gathered to protest nuclear testing formed the iconic Greenpeace environmental organization.
22. How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change
Documentarian Josh Fox (“Gasland”) travels the globe to meet with global climate change “warriors” who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming.
23. The Game Changers
Presented by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul — a revolutionary new film about meat, protein and strength.
24. The True Cost
The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
25. Chasing Coral
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Although some are more implicit than others, the films mentioned below share deeper social and environmental meanings.
A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.
2. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.
4. Erin Brockovich
An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply.
5. The China Syndrome
A reporter finds what appears to be a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant.
6. The Day After Tomorrow
Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.
Perfect for kids
The films listed below are perfect for teaching children to be mindful of our planet as their storylines are compelling without the messages being too explicit.
1. Happy Feet
Into the world of the Emperor Penguins, who find their soulmates through song, a penguin is born who cannot sing. But he can tap dance something fierce!
2. A Fish Tale (Help I’m a Fish!)
Three children accidentally get turned into fish after drinking a potion made by an eccentric scientist. The kids end up in the sea, with one problem. They must find and drink the antidote within 48 hours, or forever remain as fish.
3. Arctic Tale
Two narratives – the life cycle of a mother walrus and her calf, and the life of a polar bear and her cubs – are used to illustrate the harsh realities of existence in the Arctic.
4. Ice Age: The Meltdown
Manny, Sid, and Diego discover that the ice age is coming to an end, and join everybody for a journey to higher ground. On the trip, they discover that Manny, in fact, is not the last of the woolly mammoths.
5. To the Arctic
A journey into the lives of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home.
6. Adventure Planet
After getting himself lost in the jungle, Sam is rescued by Jorpe, and his older sister Norva. After uncovering the truth about a government program that will destroy the ozone layer, they must find a way to save humanity and all of nature!
In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.