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From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Finding Kid-Friendly Movies Friendly
to Nature and Wildlife
Are there any movies with positive environmental messages that would be appropriate for kids?
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
From 1979’s The China Syndrome to 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, numerous films with controversial environmental themes have enticed grown-ups to theatres over the past few decades. But the pickings are a little slimmer when it comes to green flicks for kids.
That said, nothing beats the 1972 film version of Dr Seuss’ The Lorax, where a cartoon industrialist (aren’t they all?) ignores the voice of nature and pays the price. Another animated can’t-miss is 1992’s Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, in which forest pixies save a lumberjack from crazed mechanized clear-cutting bulldozers. If your little ones like that one, you can rent them the sequel, Ferngully 2.
While other animated films may not address environmental themes so directly, many generate empathy toward nature and wildlife. King among these would be Finding Nemo, the animated blockbuster starring a fish. Disney’s 1992 The Little Mermaid also gets high marks for sending positive messages about undersea life. Meanwhile, A Bug’s Life and Antz, both originally released in 1998, paint insects and their ecosystems in a favorable if cartoony light.
Perhaps on a scale better for kids, 1995’s Balto based on a true story but rendered in stunning animation tells the heart-warming tale of how an Alaskan sled dog helps save the village of Nome from diphtheria. And the highest-grossing animated film of the 20th century, The Lion King, puts the wild life of Africa’s Serengeti into a majestic format that kids love to take in over and over and over again.
Meanwhile, the original Free Willy from 1993 gets kudos for teaching kids about some weighty themes, but along those same lines, it might be best for older children. Similarly, The Secret of Nimh and Plague Dogs, both from 1982, and 1978’s Watership Down are great environmental movies, but might best be saved for older kids who can deal with more complex issues and emotions.
Those looking for more details on environmental movies for kids and adults alike would enjoy reading David Ingram’s book Green Screen: Environmentalism and Hollywood Cinema. The book is organized by environmental theme and provides critical reviews of hundreds of movies accordingly. Another good resource is the Internet Movie Database, which offers information and user reviews on just about every movie ever released.
For more information:
• Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com.