I watched Avatar at the cinema recently and there was a clear eco message. Director James Cameron has been confirming this in interviews. It got me thinking, what other eco films are out there, and which are the best ones? Here’s my film review of the Top 5 Eco Films of all time!
1. Avatar! Imaginative, thought provoking and ahead of its time. A standard formulaic rom-com is simply not in the same league. Director James Cameron has been waiting for technology to catch up with him so that he can make this film. Beings on another planet have ‘bio-electrical’ connections to each other and the planet itself. Individuals have connecting ‘cables’ to further the bonds, with Cameron striking a tone that says this is scientifically feasible rather than religious. A reference to paganism reminds us that people on Earth have believed in similar connections for thousands of years. Evil humans come along and threaten these wonderful beings, wanting to tear up their community for a bit of mining. Not exactly pro deforestation. It begs humanity to save ancient forests that may have secrets currently “beyond our imagination”. Avatar also critiques the displacement of indigenous tribes, and takes a jab at the second Iraq war.
2. An Inconvenient Truth. This documentary film earned Al Gore a Nobel Prize. The film has no element of fiction. My favourite moment is when he gets in the crane. Gore has a simple line graph the size of your living room wall showing two lines, demonstrating that temperature has reacted to CO2 levels in the atmosphere for thousands of years. He then reveals how the CO2 line suddenly rockets upwards for the last 100years. Gore climbs into a crane to be elevated to the top of the CO2 line. He then looks down and points out that the temperature line is following him upwards. Brilliant.
3. The Day After Tomorrow. Straight out of a textbook, the science behind this film is absolutely spot on. The sub plot of the father crossing the continental United States to save his son is a bit ridiculous. However, congratulations to the script writers for doing their research. Britain should be as cold as Moscow given its latitude. Only the warm ocean current called the Gulf Stream keeps us warmer. Block it with fresh water from the melted North Pole and we might plunge into a runaway ice age. The film popularised the valid scientific theory that a runaway Greenhouse effect does not necessarily mean the world will stay warmer, but can trigger a positive feedback loop of snow in the northern latitudes, that reflects sunlight and warmth back out into space. Global warming ends with us freezing our pants on. Today, then hot, then cold. Hence the day after tomorrow.
4. Medicine Man. Humanity has discovered only about 1.5million of the expected 100million species on Earth. In 2008 scientists discovered a species of immortal jellyfish, and are desperate to learn how to imitate the process for humans. The 1992 film Medicine Man predicted this kind of thing would happen. Sean Connery discovers a cure for cancer in the Amazon, at first thinking it’s in a rare plant, then realising it’s within a rare ant. He’s in a race against time against the loggers. As we all are.
5. The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear. This 1991 comedy has, perhaps surprisingly, been referred to in serious UK Government discussions on climate change. In the film the American President plans to be advised on the future energy strategy by Dr Meinheimer, who is expected to announce a strategy focussed on renewable energy. Renewable energy technology exists, but the fossil fuel giants don’t want to lose profits, sounds familiar? So they make an evil clone of Dr Meinheimer, who tries to announce the continuation of fossil fuels instead. Frank Drebin intervenes in the film. Maybe we need someone like Frank Drebin in real life.
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