10 Environmental Themed Movies for Families


Have you watched any of these films for family movie night?

Discussing the deeper meaning of films with your family can make movie nights even more powerful. 

These are ten ideas for family friendly films that speak to various issues about caring for our environment, a concept kids can identify with and act upon. I think it is wise as a parent to research before watching to know if a movie will fit into your family’s unique expectations. For instance, my kids run away into the kitchen whenever anything remotely bad guyish appears. I hope to continue providing resource lists that cover many topics that will place your family in the proximity of renewal.  

1. Planet Earth, 2006, from the Discovery Channel, offers footage of landscape, animals, and the greater world with striking beauty. The world as you have never seen it before, awe-inspiring.

2. March of the Penguins, 2005, documents the annual journey of Emperor Penguins as they single file march to breeding ground. This film won best documentary film in 2005.

3. Fern Gully The Last Rainforest, 1992, follows rain forest fairies in an adventure to save their habitat. Themes of pollution and the fragility of the rain forest environment thread through the story.

4. WALL E, 2008, computer animated si-fi, follows robot WALL E and his love Eve. The movie covers the underlying theme of mass consumerism, and the humans lifestyle on Axiom that led to a disconnection from nature, a connection that is restored by the end of the film.

5. Whale Rider, 2002, a young Maori girl, Pai, fights to fulfill her destiny against her grandfather’s wishes. She earns her grandfather’s respect when she is able to coax the largest whale of a beached pod back into the ocean.

6. Fern Gully 2, 1998, the fairies return in this sequel, and leave Fern Gully to rescue young animal friends captured by poachers.

7. Lion King, 1994, Simba loses his father and is tricked into believing it was his own fault. He flees his home and his title of future king. The vivid animation and musical score opens up the world of wildlife and the concept of the circle of life to children.

8. Hoot, 2006, based on a novel. Hoot follows three teenagers as they fight to protect a burrowing owl habitat.

9. Happy Feet, 2011, enters the world of Emperor Penguins that find their mates through song. One penguin is born without the ability to sing, but he can tap dance! Happy Feet covers the topic of overfishing

10. The Lorax, 2012, an environmental tale from a book of Dr. Suess. The Lorax speaks for the trees. I posted about the film The Lorax earlier this summer.

Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins was singer and songwriter. At age 41 a car accident took his life.

Nine days before the accident, in an abandoned church, his group, A Ragamuffin Band recorded songs for a new album. The recording would go on to become The Jesus Record, produced after his parting with this world.

His songs can be heard on YouTube. A feature length film about his legacy is in progress learn more at http://richmullinsthemovie.com/

As a teenager, I would listen to this record, over and over. There was something beautiful about his words.

Rich Mullins once said in an interview,

“Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken. ”

You did not have a home. 

You were a man of no reputation. 

Nothing is beyond you. 

Jesus, write me into your story, whisper it to me, and let me know I’m yours. 

A Ragamuffin: a ragged, disreputable person.

The name Ragamuffin Band came from the excellent book, The Ragamuffin Gospel,  by Brennan Manning, also a great read.

Brennan Manning: I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

Keith Green: Rushing Wind

Keith Green: A man who placed himself in the proximity of renewal. I grew up listening the the music of Keith Green. My parents faith was shaped by his music and we listened on our record player. (Does that make me old?) I had to explain what a record player was to Ellie the other day.

Keith Green grew up singing, playing piano, and guitar. He knew the reality of drugs, mysticism, and free love.

As a young man he met and married Melody Green. He also came to know God. Keith and Melody opened their home to EVERYONE who needed a place to land.  The words of his lyrics move powerfully. His passionate presence was evident when he sat at the piano. He moved away from traditional means and took only offerings for his music and concerts. He wanted to give everyone who had ears to hear the opportunity to listen.

In 1982 he died in a small plane crash at age 28. His 3 year old son Josiah and 2 year old daughter Bethany also died in the crash. His wife Melody was left behind with Rebekah and Rachel.

You can listen to many of his recordings on youtube. The ministry of his wife Melody to continue his music is found at the Last Days Ministries

http://www.lastdaysministries.org/ A feature length film about the life of Keith Green is also being created.

He called people to live their faith passionately. Read his call from the words of the song Asleep in the Light.

  • All the people are sinking down
  • How can they be so numb?
  • We close our eyes
  • We lay back
  • We turn away
  • All of Heaven weeps
  • We run like Jonah
  • Sleeping in the dark
  • How can you be so dead? When you’ve been so well fed?
His music challenges complacency. 

Rushing wind blows through this temple

blowing out the dust within;

come and breathe your breath upon me;

I’ve been born again. 

No Compromise is the life story of Keith Green.

If You Love the Lord is a collection of his very powerful devotions.

Born into Brothels and Sari Bari

Documentary filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kaufman made the film Born into Brothels.

They set out to photograph in Sonaghi, Calcutta in India.  There contains a Red Light District where prostitution is not a choice, where sometimes three generations of woman work in the brothels. In doing so, they formed relationships with the children of the prostitutes. Eight children were given cameras and taught photography. The film brings to light a thinly veiled world to where there seems no escape.

In a review Robert Ebert describes the photographs, “Their pictures capture life and a kind of beauty and squalor that depend on one another.”

Striking is even the thought that children are born into brothels. For so many, this is the reality they walk in daily. There are no exit signs.

There are many ways to support the end of sex trafficking and exploitation of woman and children.

Over time, I will share many. Today, I will share one called Sari Bari. http://www.saribari.com/

Sari Bari provides a place of safe employment for exploited woman and those who are vulnerable to trafficking. The name comes from sari- the clothing Indian women wear and bari- meaning house or home in Bengali.

The website features the beautiful sari products these woman hand craft.  You can also read about the woman who made them in their profiles section.

Beyond purchasing gifts through Sari Bari, there are many other ways to become involved.

  • Sponsor a woman into freedom
  • Host a Sari Bari Event
  • Be an advocate
  • Follow their blog and newsletters on ways to support their work

He Knows My Name

I met her at a Wednesday night Bible study. She sat swaying back and forth next to the beloved lady that led the group. Penetrating dark eyes, framed with deep black shoulder-length hair, fastened to my own. Her lips spread into a smile that could lighten the darkest of gathering storm clouds.

I have a maker                                                                                                                                   

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in his hand

Her life began in Korea. The orphanage she called home until eight years of age remains vivid in her mind.  The unkindness she sometimes endured there affixes to her identity. She flew over the ocean to an adoptive family with a friend she had grown up alongside. Her mind does not move with the cadence of most around her.

I have a Father

He calls me his own

He’ll never leave me

No matter where I go

As a grown up woman she lives in an upstairs apartment with her beloved cat. She wears, in remembrance, a thin birthstone ring displayed on her left ring finger for another cat that had to leave her.  People sometimes think it’s a wedding ring, she explains, and that thought makes her smile. When she is lonely her cat stays close beside her.  Thai food, pop, and friends bring her happiness.

He knows my Name

He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls

And he hears me when I call

In church she often sits, swaying back and forth to the seconds that pass. Occasionally she will pass a note over the back of a pew or leave in search of a Styrofoam cup of coffee. She always aims enthusiastic waves in my direction throughout the service.  Often, she only sits during the worship time, not rising to join in the singing.  The worship band begins the song He knows my name. Suddenly she rises up with wide eyes fixed somewhere above. She reaches for the hand of the person closest to her. Her eyes glisten and she smiles, captivated by every word. After church she draws up tight alongside me. I ask her if she liked that song. She offers her light-up-the-dark smile and her hand pats the spot her heart lies underneath her chest.

He knows my Name

A song so simple as to only say he knows my name.

Someone who knows every facet of her heart and thinks she is an amazing creation. That is enough to sustain a life.

He knows her name and he knows our names.