Looking for something new to watch? There’s a whole breadth of TV shows and films that are based around the environment. From looking at climate issues to showing the diversity of life on the planet, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Brave Blue World: Racing to Solve Our Water Crisis
Brave Blue World is a 2019 documentary narrated by Liam Neeson, featuring interviews with entrepreneurs, scientists and humanitarians. The aim of the documentary is to change how people think about water, by exploring how technology and innovation can help to supply clean water and to help solve the water crisis. Currently, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 people don’t have access to clean water, and 1 in 5 don’t have safe, sanitary toilets. Brave Blue World shows that we have enough water to solve these problems, we just need to know how to use it correctly.
A Plastic Ocean
A Plastic Ocean follows a team of scientists and researchers as they explore the extent of our problem with plastic pollution. Some of its findings on how plastic is infiltrating ecosystems are truly shocking – for example, the team finds a seabird that died with 234 pieces of plastic inside of it.
It also looks at how microplastics can enter our own digestive systems, and how some South Pacific islands are slowly becoming overrun with plastic waste to the point where people are burning it as fuel for cooking. This documentary does contain some disturbing images but will undeniably change the way you think about plastic.
You might not expect a Disney Pixar film to be on a list about green things to watch, but WALL-E takes a stand against our throwaway culture. A rise in consumerism causes the planet to be overwhelmed with waste, forcing all humans to be evacuated into space to allow the planet to heal. This film shows that even after a global catastrophe, the Earth can fight back to produce and sustain life.
WALL-E won numerous awards including the 2009 Academy Award and Golden Globe for best animated film. In 2021, WALL-E was added into the National Film Registry for being culturally and socially significant.
Don’t Look Up
Don’t Look Up is the latest Netflix hit that is taking the world by storm. While it shows scientists attempting to warn people about an oncoming meteor, the whole film is a metaphor for how we’re currently reacting to the climate crisis.
It set a record for most hours watched in a single week on Netflix and is currently the streaming site’s second-most popular film.
My Octopus Teacher
In 2020, My Octopus Teacher became a viral sensation, and it documented a filmmaker’s developing relationship with a female octopus as she showed him how she lives, hunts, and survives. The film shows how animals can teach us more about the fragility of life, as well as how we need to protect wildlife and their habitats.
My Octopus Teacher went on to win awards including the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary and has been well received by people all around the world.
“I think that people are resonating with parts of the story that are universal to almost every person on Earth; love and friendship and connection and hope.”– Pippa Erlich, director.
David Attenborough documentaries
It would be impossible to discuss environmental films and documentaries without mentioning Sir David Attenborough. In the last two decades, Attenborough has written, directed, produced, narrated, or presented over 80 different projects about the natural world – including recent documentaries with hard-hitting messages about the climate crisis. Here are some of his must-watches:
Our Planet was a 2019 collaboration between Netflix and WWF , about human impact on the environment and the resilience of nature. It follows a similar format to other Attenborough documentaries, with each episode looking at a different habitat and the plants and creatures that live there.
Planet Earth started on BBC One in 2006, with a second series airing in 2016. At the time it was the most expensive nature documentary series the BBC produced, due to the high-tech filming techniques used.
It highlights different territories in the wild and looks at the land itself rather than just the animals that live there. One episode even looks at animals living in cities, showing how wildlife adapts (or struggles to adapt) to urban environments.
The third series is due to air in 2022, so now is the perfect time to see what came before.
The main feature of this influential series isn’t plastic pollution, but is instead marine life from different habitats, and how these creatures survive.
Frozen Planet aired in 2011, with a second series due to be released this year. The format is slightly different from the other series, as it just visits one habitat through different seasons. As well as spectacular landscapes and wildlife, we see how humans exist in this challenging habitat – from following an Inuit tribe on a hunt, to exploring the impact of tourism. The final episode’s focus is the impact of climate change and how the melting sea ice impacts not just the animals that live there, but the whole planet.
Green Planet is the newest David Attenborough documentary series and it started on BBC One on January 9th. Making use of innovative technology, the growth and development of different plant species from around the world is shown in ground-breaking detail.