The movie Avatar is just that—a cinematic creation, not reality. However, the environmental message woven throughout the films is applicable to modern civilization on Earth. In both the 2009 and 2022 films, viewers experience the world of Pandora through the lens of the Na’vi people; they feel their innate bond with the environment, witness how their world's ecosystems thrive through the equilibrium between elements, flora, and fauna, and relate to the struggles faced when a new hostile species threatens their existence and tries to exploit their natural world. The film captivates audiences with beautiful scenery and an engaging story while conveying an important message about the dualities between industry and nature, past and future, and people and technology, ultimately serving as a protest against many urgent topics in parallel with our reality.
In the animated film WALL-E, released in 2008, Earth is depicted as a contaminated wasteland, and humans have become obese from the lack of activity and are captive to devices that do everything for them. Although director Andrew Stanton denied at the time that this was an environmentalist message, viewers can easily spot its underlying commentary about the growing problems with pollution and waste on our planet. The movie tells the story of a robot who is left behind on Earth after all humans have fled to live on spaceships in outer space. The robot's name, WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), hints at the character's role as humanity's garbage collector. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that humans are not living in harmony with nature; they have devastated the planet and destroyed its ecosystems. The film calls attention to our impact on the environment and encourages viewers to take action in their own lives to protect natural resources.
3. FernGully: The Last Rainforest
In the 1992 animated film Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, environmental consciousness is meticulously woven into this whimsical tale. Crysta, a fairy that lives deep in the Australian rainforest, encounters a human for the first time when a logging company comes to clear out part of the rainforest. With its vibrant and dream-like visuals, this film is able to keep children entranced and open their eyes to humans’ negative impacts on the environment. Viewers are taught to treasure and see the nature around them as precious instead of something unimportant. Empathizing with the environment must come first to be able to alleviate anthropogenic impact, and FernGully is both creative and effective in pushing this principle.
4. The Lorax
This movie explores environmentalism through the story of a character named the Once-ler. In his youth, the Once-ler arrives upon a forest full of Truffula trees and starts to cut them down for profit. As his greed gets the better of him, the Once-ler accelerates the tree-cutting process and leaves no trees left standing by the end. As a result of the mass degradation of nature, almost all animals lose their homes and the Truffula forest is no more. This story depicts how businesses can only care about profit instead of respecting the natural environment. It also portrays what our world could eventually come to. Like how the Once-ler did not listen when the Lorax was warning him, people in real life can decide to not heed warnings about lack of sustainability. It is through unconscientious consumption that, in a matter of time, what people do not take seriously will happen.
5. Don’t Look Up
Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up deeply alludes to the climate crisis today. The two protagonists play scientists who try to warn the world of an asteroid that could cause human extinction. Throughout the movie, they are ignored by news outlets and wealthy individuals. Similar to our climate crisis, there are still many authority figures and fossil fuel industries who do not understand how close Earth is to becoming irreversibly damaged.