TOP TEN TUESDAY: Earth Day 2009 – Best Movies on Earth
Earth Day 2009 is upon us and while there are many more beneficial ways to celebrate the planet Earth, nature and the environment than watching movies, there are some worthy films available out there on the fairly vast theme that Earth Day encompasses. So, once you’ve done your recycling, gardening and whatever other Earth Day practices you may have, here’s a few films I’d like to recommend viewing while you relax from a long day’s effort to make our planet a cleaner and safer one to live on.
Planet Earth (2006) – This 11-part epic mini-series is a must see for everyone, seriously! Watch it on Blu-Ray, even better! From pole to pole, this series takes us on a truly beautiful and cinematic exploration of the planet we live on yet typically know so little about. If you have the time, this is a great way to celebrate Earth Day and be mesmerized by the wonders of nature. I know this is what I’ll be watching, for the seventh time, on Earth Day.
Blue Planet (2001) / Deep Blue (2003) – Even though it came out five years before ‘Planet Earth’ and didn’t benefit from the same technology, ‘Blue Planet’ is still an extraordinary series on life in the oceans. Given that they make up 70% of the Earth’s surface, they deserve an in depth exploration. I chose to stick ‘Deep Blue’ in here with it because, while worthwhile on it’s own merit, it acts as a kind of introductory piece to both ‘Blue Planet’ and ‘Planet Earth’. I suppose you could call it a Cliff’s Notes for the two series.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006) / The 11th Hour (2007) – I lumped these two together for a specific reason. I wouldn’t even have ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ on this list if not simply to illustrate a point. That point being it’s not a great movie at all. Subject matter aside, ‘AIT’ features Al Gore (not an electrifying speaker) standing on a stage with a digital slide show talking about how the Earth is dying. Boring! On the other hand, Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘The 11th Hour’ is an engaging documentary that involves the viewer, gives people solutions instead of just whining and understands that the human species will perish long before we could ever truly “kill” the planet. ‘AIT’ got all the hype, but 11th Hour’ deserves more recognition.
FLOW: For Love of Water (2008) – The one thing we as human being, and life in general, needs more than anything else is water. We love the stuff and in more ways than just nourishment for our bodies. ‘FLOW’ tackles the subject matter of how we use this natural resource and the possible reality that it is dwindling quicker than we can sustain it’s presence and usefulness. This is an eye-opening film and presents information significant to us all.
Garbage Warrior (2007) – What can you do with garbage? What would you do to help make the world a cleaner place to live? What would it take to accomplish this? These are the three questions addressed in this fascinating documentary about architect Michael Reynolds’ The film chronicles his fight to introduce and encourage a radically new form of sustainable housing and his struggle against the bureaucracy that restrains his dream. Definitely an enjoyable film and appealing to anyone interested in green living.
Darwin’s Nightmare (2004)Ã‚ – An amazing and telling documentary about the effects of the fishing industry in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. The Nile Perch was introduced into the lake by the industry to farm for the European market, but the predatory fish has all but wiped out the other species, leaving little for the native people to survive on. The film is disturbing and sad, but at the same time an honest look at how industry interrupts the natural order of things.
Manufactured Landscapes (2006) – This beautifully shot documentary follows photographer Edward Burtynsky as he travels the world documenting changes in the Earth’s landscapes due to industry and manufacturing. The film puts a spotlight on our effect of business and population on the planet while still somehow finding beauty in it all.
Rivers and Tides (2001) – This portrait of artist Andrew Goldsworthy is an amazing example of a person whose entire life has been influenced and affected by the beauty and power of nature and how he’s taken his creative drive and applied it back to nature without leaving a negative impact.
Microcosmos (1996) – Originally touted as a children’s movie, this up-close look at the insect world is actually quite compelling for kids of all ages. You’ve never been this close to so many bugs and been so mesmerized by the fascinating lives they live. ‘Microcosmos’ also helps to convey the important role that insects have in our lives and in the planet’s ecosystems.
Baraka (1992) – No, this isn’t another documentary about the new president. It is however, an incredibly beautiful visual tour of some of the world’s most pristine landscapes and natural wonders. The film is more of a feature-length music video for nature than a narrative film, containing no true plot other than “Wow! Earth is beautiful!” The movie is a more universally accessible and less-overwhelming experience than Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Life‘ trilogy, but those of worth seeing as well.