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Best Environmental Themed Movies of all Time

Updated on September 10, 2014
The Cove (2009)
The Cove (2009) | Source

I consider myself an environmentalist, I try to do the right thing when it comes to our planet. Although it is always a work in progress, every little effort counts. These efforts include how the media portrays and deals with a number of environmental issues. The media has been able to hide problems but also illuminate them as well. In the following few paragraphs I will discuss my favorite environmentally themed movies. These range from blockbusters to documentaries, to children films but they all bring needed awareness to environmental ethics and issues.

The Cove

The first movie on my list is one of the most recent and probably the most shocking. The documentary The Cove, released in 2009, follows the continuing efforts of Richard O'Barry to free captive dolphins. It's interesting to know that O'Barry was once a famous dolphin trainer, in fact he was the trainer of some of the most famous dolphins in the world! Yes he was the trainer to the dolphins that played in the television series Flipper. He feels that he has some responsibility in the capture of dolphins for captivity and wants to change it. His travels have taken home to a small town in Japan, where dolphins are drove into a cove and killed for their meat but also taken and sold aquariums. The documentary is brutal to watch for any animal lover, especially for someone like me who has loved dolphins since seeing Flipper, which you'll realize is ironic after viewing this film. After watching this movie you will feel outrage over what is going on and will hopefully want to help in fixing the problem. This film won an Oscar for Best Documentary film and rightfully deserved it was. This documentary is a must see, although I warn you it is NOT PLEASENT!


One of the latest blockbusters that made my list was the huge movie Avatar. This movie was released in 2009 and won three Oscars, was even nominated for best picture of the year. The movie follows the character Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) to Pandora an earth like planet that contains a valuable resource need back home. The problem is the world is occupy by the indigenous population of Na"vi, human like beings that live with nature not on top of it. The deep ecology ethics of the film with its pro nature, anti anthropogenic messages shocked me. I was expecting it to be so clever when I saw it. The parallels to today's issues are amazing. I have written more on The Environmental Topics of Avatar. A must see blockbuster that is enjoyable, fun and most importantly provides a very important message about leaving among the environment not on top of it.

Food Inc.

The other documentary I have on this list is Food, Inc. released in 2008. This film was directed by Robert Kenner and was even nominated for an Oscar for best documentary. This film covers a number of environmental issues dealing with our food. It exposes how many animals have been and are treated to provide us with food. This brings up the issue of our ethics towards other living beings on this planet and exposes the horrible abuses of these creatures. The documentary also focuses on GMO's or genetically modified foods. It exposes the company Monsanto and what they are doing with seeds for majority of the food we eat. After watching this film you maybe a little weary about what you want to eat but you will understand the issues of where our food comes from. This documentary helped to begin the reconnect to where our food comes from, too many have been disillusioned by the ease of supermarket food and don't understand the process behind the can of food or the cut meat. This film will open eyes!

Free Willy

To round out my top five environmental movies, I had to add something from my childhood. That would be the movie Free Willy from 1993, starring Jason James Richter. This film follows the adoption of a kid on the wrong track named Jessie (Richter), who evolves over time when he befriends and wants to free a whale named Willy from captivity. Not only did this film grab the attention of many children in the early 1990s, it also brought about awareness to whales and animals in captivity. The film's credits even had information on where to donate to help whales. The spotlight it thrust on the environmental issues of animal captivity had a true impact on audiences and possibly ever since. The film didn't stop there, it became a franchise and released two more films. These next two films Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995)and Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997), hit on other environmental issues impacting whales and other marine life. In the second film the issue was oil spills and the impacts on marine life. In the third film it was about the illegal activities of hunting whales. So not only did this series of movies entertain children of all ages for almost a decade, it brought up environmental issues dealing with captivity, oil spills, and whale hunting that we still deal with today. These films should be given some credit for producing the awareness they did and for giving the impacted animals a name, that being Willy. Free Willy!

The Day After Tomorrow

Another big Hollywood movie that I placed on the list, although not as big as Avatar, is the movie The Day After Tomorrow. The movie was released in 2004 starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. This special effects disaster film did have some environmental messages to it. The film follows the story of a father and son (Quaid/Gyllenhaal) and their struggles through a never before seen storm. This storm is literally freezing people in place and bridging the earth into the next ice age! The reason why the sudden ice age is due to the man made influences on the environment and the reactions to the delicate balance in the ocean and resulting climate change. Although it is considered far fetch by many, there is some science behind it and has brought some awareness to the impacts we have on our environment and climate. This movie is a very enjoyable film, even made my Movies to watch during a Blizzard list!


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    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Blawger! An Inconvenient Truth completely slipped my mind lol, thanks for the suggestion and the comment!

    • Blawger profile image

      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      This is a great hub. I totally agree with your choices but I would also add An Inconvenient Truth to the list.