Earth Day and Earth Month are excellent opportunities to learn more about the planet to appreciate the natural world around us. And movies are a great way to help us do just that.
From cartoons that introduce kids to the wonders of nature, to more serious adult films that explore nuanced relationships between people and the natural world, to documentaries that can teach everyone a little something, here are the best movies to watch during Earth Day and Month.
“Wall-E” became an immediate animated classic, highlighting — in Pixar’s signature lighthearted way — the dangers of our runaway throwaway society for the planet. The adorable robot protagonist has a deep admiration for life, helping his human creators (and viewers) regain their appreciation, all without too much dialogue at all.
Julia Roberts made “Erin Brockovich” iconic, inspiring moviegoers with her fierce portrayal of one woman’s quest for environmental justice. It’s easy to root for the single mother as she takes on corporate energy in a battle over groundwater contamination and the families impacted.
It may be about a faraway planet, but James Cameron’s “Avatar” is all about nature’s fight against militarized, mechanized destruction. Plus there’s enough action and explosions to keep anyone engaged.
An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore’s influential documentary holds up, unfortunately, years after its original release. It’s just as impactful as ever.
The Day After Tomorrow
If “An Inconvenient Truth” didn’t make you want to fix the world, “The Day After Tomorrow” might just scare you into climate action. The disaster flick follows an A-list cast as they try to survive a climate disaster, and it paints a dark picture of a future in which humans do little to fight climate change.
It may have been snubbed at the awards, but “Dark Waters” still hits. Similar to “Erin Brockovich,” though considerably more serious, it tells the story of a lone lawyer fighting against corporate greed and pollution. It’s tense and compelling at every step.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Big farming is increasingly seen as one of the industries driving climate change, and the documentary “Cowspiracy” goes straight to the heart of the destructive practices that threaten our world and hold up our food system.
I Heart Huckabees
The basic plot of “I Heart Huckabees” revolves around a dispute between environmentalists and a big box store, but the drama quickly broadens to include existential questions about competing views on the meaning of life — all wrapped up in a cheeky comedy package with an all-star cast.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
A lesser known but equally beloved animated film about defending nature and all its wonders, “FernGully” is a great alternative for any family that is tired of “Bambi.”