There are a multitude of ways to commemorate Earth Day this year. For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, there are programmes in the vein of Plant-A-Tree and upcycling workshops available in Singapore; ventures that allow for a heightened and in-depth understanding of the current climate situation. Should you be the type who’d prefer to deepen your knowledge via virtual mediums, however, there too proves a bevy of resources to turn to—many of which comprise an entertainment component that makes it equal parts educational and enjoyable. For those at a loss of where to look, fret not, for Vogue Singapore has curated the best environmental films and documentaries to know of in recent times.
This includes Hollywood productions and critical darlings like Oscar-nominated Don’t Look Up and the iconic Wall-E; movies that delve deep into the long-lasting impact of a climate crisis that showcases the adaptability of humans. On the features front, we have also recommended the most impactful documentaries that highlight the realities of the current issues faced today, ranging from the shocking ecological impact of over-fishing to the tragedies brought about by global warming. Peruse our full round-up of best environmental films and documentaries below and be sure to share your insights upon viewing. We trust that there will be plenty.
1 / 6
Don’t Look Up
The star-studded cast doesn’t detract from the core message of the film; an allegory for climate change that astutely conveys the various politics surrounding government jobs and bureaucracy. Things kick off with a discovery by Kate Dibiasky—a Michigan State University astronomy Ph.D. candidate—who realises that a previously unknown comet will collide with earth, causing planet-wide extinction. The events that follow serve as a satirised rendition of how the government and people would react to such a situation, bolstered by stellar and emotional performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and more.
Don’t Look Up is available for viewing on Netflix.
2 / 6
Filmmaker Damon Garneau sets out to answer an age-old question in this documentary—namely, are we doing enough to resolve the issues arising from climate change? And what can be done to ensure a better future for the younger generation? Interestingly enough, this is presented in a traditional story format, with Garneau projecting a future where climate change is resolved as relayed to his four-year-old daughter, Velvet. It comprises interviews with academics, ecological experts and more, where he goes in-depth about readily-available solutions all while discussing potential problem-solving tech, products and so forth.
2040 is available for viewing on Amazon Prime.
3 / 6
Plastic pollution, ghost nets and corruption are just some of the many topics brought up in this Netflix documentary; a labour of love on the part of director, Kip Anderson, as he attempts to expose the true nature and impact of fishing. Interviews were conducted in Japan, coastal West Africa, Scotland, and such—providing a global viewpoint of the situation at hand. And while some have accused Anderson of an inaccurate presentation of facts and statistics, it remains an intriguing watch for anyone remotely curious about aquaculture.
Seaspiracy is available for viewing on Netflix.
4 / 6
The family-friendly film harbours adult themes and messaging surrounding consumerism, greed and rebirth; a grim-yet-hopeful take on earth after it becomes a garbage wasteland that renders it entirely uninhabitable. Its sole resident? Wall-E, a trash-compacting robot left to clean up the mess caused by humans. Twists and turns follow, with the ending presenting a hopeful missive as to what people are capable of should they be willing to take a chance—and the necessary steps towards change.
Wall-E is available for viewing on Disney+.
5 / 6
Released in 2012, the documentary puts its focus on American photographer, James Balog, detailing his journey to the Arctic to chronicle the impact of climate change through images only. After much trial-and-error, Balog achieves this through the setting up of time-lapse cameras across harsh Icelandic terrain, capturing a series of haunting photos that depict the changing form of glaciers in the duration of a year. And while watching the dissolution of massive ice structures does present a rather somber front, it is tempered by moments of triumph and discovery that makes for a hopeful watch.
Chasing Ice is available for viewing on Amazon Prime.
6 / 6
This epic Japanese fantasy is remembered as one of the darker—and more standout—works from animation company, Studio Ghibli, responsible for cult-classics such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro. Princess Mononoke, however, doesn’t encompass the vivid optimism of the aforementioned titles; a searing tale focused on the consequences of human greed as industrialisation efforts pick up in Japan, leading to the razing of forests and animal habitats. What happens, then, when nature spirits begin to fight back, waging a supernatural war against mankind? Bear in mind that the film comprises gory and violent scenes, making it unsuitable for children despite its animated format.
Princess Mononoke is available for viewing on Netflix.