I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood lately and wondering why I turned out the way I did when it comes to caring a lot about the planet. This led me to wonder if there was anything I watched a lot as a kid that may have contributed to my drive to protect the resources we rely on. The first three were movies I saw when I was growing up, but the last three Studio Ghibli films I didn’t see until I was much older.
Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest
Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest has easily one of the most obvious warning messages about the current treatment of the planet by showing deforestation encroaching on the territory of fairies who had previously thought humans went extinct. In addition to the normal mismanagement and pollution of resources, the humans also cut down a tree that was housing a demon of destruction who tries to accelerate the devastation process. This movie shows how people can learn to appreciate nature and how mindless consumption does real damage to the planet and our ability to live safety on it.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
I’m pretty sure the movie Spirit is the reason my #1 celebrity crush is Matt Damon. Not only that, but it really demonstrates the importance of respecting all life and not exploiting it in the name of progress. The plot follows a wild horse in the Cimarron herd and his newfound partnership with a native American from the Lakota tribe, despite having apprehension about being around humans. They then proceed to learn to work together when people who work for the railroad building efforts capture them and attempt to break their spirits. It’s a great story about friendship, but also respecting nature and other beings.
I bring up Tarzan because it demonstrates one of the ways humans have interacted with the natural world by separating themselves and using other creatures as a source of income. We’ve also tended to demonize animals that are living peacefully in the wild and used that as an excuse to try to tame them. By living more in tune with these animals and their habitat, we’re more likely to live peacefully and preserve biological diversity and resources. Plus, who doesn’t love to hear Phil Collins sing some songs for Disney?
The Wild Thornberry’s is a really fun watch when it comes to observing interesting characters traverse the plains of Africa and working with park rangers who protect the animals from poachers.
Princess Mononoke is a dark film that sparks some really interesting conversations. It touches on the benefits of development and progress for women and the disabled but shows how that growth can go too far and end up harming everyone. In this movie, that comes in the form of animals fighting back and attempting to stomp out human existence.
My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is a great lighthearted Studio Ghibli film about a family that movies out to the Japanese countryside and the children’s experiences with forrest spirits who take them on adventures.
Those are my top six films I recommend watching in regards to environmental sustainability! I’m sure there are more out there, but here are just a few to get started. Let me know if you have any other favorites about the environment in the comment section below.