December 23, 2015
5 Best Movies that Teach You About the Environment

Planning a staycation this holiday season? These five movies will entertain you as well as give you green education.

by Nurjannah Ekaputri
Culture
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If you live in Jakarta you are part of a fast moving and packed city with up to 12.7 million population during the day and 9.9 million people during the night. It only makes sense that we are always in a rush.  There is a lot of energy that we invest to get things done.
 
Weekend traffics are not much different – in some parts of the city even worse. Malls, where many Jakartans spend their weekend, are battle scenes for motorists vying for parking spots. Sometimes staying in to watch movies is the best option for your sanity, as well as for planet earth.
 
Why not use this down time to get some green education for yourself? I’ve narrowed down a list of movies for you, ranging from documentary, serious drama to animation that you can enjoy with your little kids. Here they are:
 
HAPPY FEET
Suitable for family and dating
 
This computer-animated musical tells a beautiful story that will not only win kids’ heart, but is also a joy and wonder for the grownups. Made in 2006, this movie is current enough for the short-spanned attention kids who find National Geographic and Animal Planet boring, yet it provides relevant framework to introduce our planet and the environment to them.



 
The movie did not only introduce the beauty of Antarctica, which most of us are unfamiliar with, but also the magnificent penguins.  The story line was simple enough for kids to follow, and it is packed with music and dancing to entertain us.
 
“Where are the fishes?” the penguins ask. And thus began their search for more fish and the culprits who created the situation.
 
The subtly delivered message is  care for your environment, because we share this planet with many other living beings.
 
Be aware, stay critical, do the right thing and dance!
 
WALL-E
Suitable for family and dating
 
This 2008 animation is one of Disney and Pixar’s finest collaborations in creating an imaginative story for the whole family to enjoy. Set 700 years in the future, it is a love story between two robots against the backdrop of a disintegrated earth.
 
Wall-E, the hero, is a sweet and courageous robot that you can’t help but like. The movie is a good contrast between dreams and reality. It will get you to think of what could become of Future Earth. The planet is depicted as plain grey and brown, not so blue and green anymore. There are piles and piles of garbage, with the only living things being Wall-E and its cockroach pet/friend. We are left wondering, “where are the humans?”
 
It also teaches us there’s no virtue in instant comfort.
 
“I don’t want to survive. I want to live,” The captain of Axion spaceship said.  Safe is good but it doesn’t teach us anything. “All we ever do was nothing”.  
 
The bottom line: humans may be weak but they are also hopeful and spirited. We live on earth as part of an ecosystem. Nothing is given.
 
As the captain said to the plant, “You need someone to take care of you, that’s all”.
 
 
ERIN BROKOVICH
Suitable for dating (though maybe not on first date)
 
We all love underdog-turned-hero success stories. This one is based on a true story of a struggling single mom who became an environmental hero in a battle against a polluting giant corporation. The actual event was dubbed the largest direct-action lawsuit in US history.”
 
The real Erin Brockovich is still alive and kicking. If you Google her: you will find plenty of links to her motivational speeches and environmental issues in legal matters. In this movie she is played by Julia Roberts, who transformed herself into a feisty, but struggling mom of two. She got a job in a law firm and became involved in a class action against a giant company on environmental issue.  Julia Roberts was fantastic,  matched beautifully by Albert Finney who played Erin’s boss Ed Masry. 
 
University of Otago, Wellington, in New Zealand quotes Erin Brockovich as the top Public Health Movie.  Thanks to her advocacy, the law was successfully used to force compensation and corporations’ practices have been subsequently changed.
 
That’s a true Green Warrior right there.
 
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Suitable for doco lovers
 
The truth (sometimes) sucks.
 
Faced with the truth we have options to deny it, ignore it, acknowledge it, or do something about it.
 
Having ended his term as US vice president, Al Gore became an ardent campaigner for the climate change issue.  He means business as the movie shows.  In "An Inconvenient Truth” Al narrated and explained what’s going on with Mother Nature.  He put the environmental issue into the context of his everyday experience, infused with personal memories of his hometown and childhood.
 
Climate change is no longer an environmental issue but also a political, economic and social issues worldwide.
 
“If we have the money, but we don’t have the planet then what is the use?”
 
This may not be your date movie or your girls’ night out movie, but it is an important movie that is worth your two hours.
 
 
AVATAR
 Suitable for First Dates
 
Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet inhabited by exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.
 
This masterpiece of James Cameron is, according to The Telegraph in 2009, “…a broader metaphor, not so intensely politicized as some would make it, but rather that's how we treat the natural world as well.”
 
Humans, wielding sophisticated technology, are depicted as the typical invaders who feel entitled to everything they can conquer at the cost of ruining the balance on the natural cycles of life.
 
The film is a feast for the eyes with great cast ensembles and a love story that will remind you of Pocahontas and her John Smith.
 
All energy in this world is only borrowed, if you can feel it and imagine, the world has its power on its own. So be kind to the world.
 
Nurjannah Ekaputri was studying to be a diplomat, but fell in love with the social industry. She works with  Yayasan Kebun Raya Indonesia (YKRI), but her passion is doing illustration.  She hopes to have her first exhibition sometime in the near future. Established in 2001, YKRI preserves and manages plant collections to educate and promote public awareness on the importance of the biodiversity conservation and the roles and functions of Botanical Gardens, of which there are 27 across Indonesia.