Best Films about the Natural World to stream at home

20 Apr 2020 BY Steven Ryder in Film Features

7 mins
Lu Over the Wall
Lu Over the Wall

Given the unusual situation that many of us find ourselves living in at the moment, it might be easy to forget that there is a whole wide world out there ripe for exploring. Wednesday 22 April marks the international celebration of Earth Day and what better time than to commemorate our planet and show worldwide appreciation of all that it has to offer. 

We've put together a collection of films - five for primary audiences, five for secondary - that we believe will serve as passionate and exciting reminders of planet Earth and how much work we have ahead of us to preserve our wonderful home. 

There are plenty more films that explore this subject, but we have opted to highlight titles which are often under-represented and - crucially - that are available to stream from the comfort of your own home. We've listed which streaming platforms the titles are available on - including, where possible, any expiry dates - as well as links to any accompanying resources or other materials to help young people get the most out of their viewing experience. 

The selected films are also a brilliant source of inspiration for our new Nature in your Neighbourhood filmmaking competition!

Note: While most streaming platforms require a paid subscription, or one-off rental fee, many offer a free trial that you can make use of. In addition, our recommendations will always include some titles on free-to-watch platforms.

Note: The information about films on streaming services is aimed at people at home only, and not for any film clubs still running in schools. Licencing conditions do not permit the access of streaming platforms from a school setting.

If you want to find out the complete details of where any given title is available to watch or purchase, please visit FindAnyFilm.com.

Primary (Ages 5 - 11)

The Eagle Huntress

If there was ever a film to remind us of the vast possibilities around the world, The Eagle Huntress is it, providing both a story and an environment that could be described as breath-taking. Aishol-pan is a 13-year-old Kazakh girl who is training to become the first female eagle-huntress in her family's history, despite being rejected by a traditionalist older generation that rejects her.

Wall-E

Pixar's sci-fi tale of a lonely little robot who is dedicated to cleaning up a rubbish-covered Earth in the far future has become one of the most well-regarded Disney films of recent years. Taking a look at the possibilities of what may happen if we don't begin to take care of our planet, Wall-E is a great starting point for audiences of any age to begin thinking about conservation.

Over the Hedge

The ongoing effect that human progress is having on wildlife habitats around the world is a subject becoming increasingly more complicated the world over. This animated comedy from the makers of Shrek is a light look at wildlife survival as a group of forest animals awake from hibernation only to discover that a gigantic hedge has been planted in the middle of their home in order to make way for a housing complex.

Ponyo

Like many of the great Studio Ghibli films, Ponyo is a sweet, fantastical tale with an important undercurrent of environmentalism at its core. When a 5-year-old boy discovers a fish-princess who longs to become a human, a gentle friendship begins to form and soon they are travelling to an ocean-world, showcasing the magic of another realm that isn't just a dumping ground for human waste.

African Cats

There's nothing like a nature documentary to remind you of the majesty of the animal kingdom and it doesn't get much more magnificent than African Cats, which follows two species of big cat as they grow up in the African wilderness. As educational as it is visually impressive, these parallel stories of a cheetah and a lion cub are both equally absorbing.

Secondary (11 - 16+)

Lu Over the Wall

Straddling the line between children's fantasy and the adult world perfectly, Lu Over the Wall is a vibrant and colourful slice of anime fun with a strong message of community and collaboration at its core. When Kai, a shy teenager, moves to a small fishing village to Tokyo, he meets a fun-loving mermaid called Lu and the two must soon band together to ensure the survival of their respective worlds.

Deepwater Horizon

A disaster film that goes into great detail to present the risk that offshore oil drilling poses for the planet, Deepwater Horizon is based on a real-life incident in 2010 that occurred off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Layered, but thrilling in its explosiveness, this is a deeply complex film that also earns its place as an action epic.

An Inconvenient Truth

The documentary that stunned the world when it was first released might now be considered one of the pioneers of the environmental movement. Senator Al Gore uses his position of power to open up a discussion around the negative effects that pollution and human apathy is having on the world, providing the most convincing of arguments on why we need to act quickly in order to turn things around.

Princess Mononoke

From the mind of visionary director Hayao Miyazaki comes this more adult-oriented fantasy tale about a forest full of spirits who are all struggling to adapt to the unstoppable force of human progress. With the harmony of nature, the spiritual realm and humans breaking down, village warrior Ashitaka begins an unforgettable and dangerous adventure to find a solution to his infection and to save the world around him.

Erin Brockovich

A film which deals with the personal struggles that individuals encounter when doing what they believe is right, Erin Brockovich follows a single mother who finds herself fighting against a corrupt utilities company when she discovers their practices are making people severely ill. With an award-winning performance from Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich is an inspiring and enrapturing film that has stood the test of time.

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Steven Ryder, Curation Officer

Steven has an MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation from the National Film and Television School. He has previously worked for various exhibitors around England and currently freelances as a film critic/podcaster.

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