Is there a better way to celebrate Earth Day than staying inside to enjoy some movies about the beauty (and sometimes horror) of nature without having to actually go outside? Here are my top five films to help you celebrate nature this Saturday;
- “Antichrist” (2009)
Lars von Trier’s fairly horrific descent into the evils of nature was met with some derision on its release. But the terrifying beauty of this film is hard to deny, from the malformed animals to the haunting bodies crawling out of tree roots. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a couple who, after the lose of their child, go to a cabin in the woods to try to recover their relationship, but nature has other plans in mind.
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)
The story of a young girl and her father dealing with a massive natural disaster in their community netted the young Quvenzhané Wallis an Oscar nomination, though the real star of the film is the gorgeous Louisiana landscape. A film like this is so largely talked about based on the performances, almost completely done by novice actors, which makes it easy to forget about the natural beauty one sees in the film, it truly is a sight to behold.
- “The Tree of Life” (2011)
Terrence Malik’s fifth feature is perhaps his most far reaching and complex, but it is also almost definitely his best. The film is both a small family drama and a telling of the complete history of the earth. If that seems daunting, it’s because it is. It’s also beautiful, moving, and powerful, a film that has to be seen to understand. From the early days of dinosaurs to the interactions of this family (led by a demanding father played by Brad Pitt), “The Tree of Life” is truly about life itself.
- “Aguirre: The Wrath of God” (1972)
Werner Herzog is perhaps the director most invested in the natural world. This was a hard one to pick, as I went back and forth between this and his stunning documentary “Grizzly Man,” but really any of his films could be included on this list. Herzog embraces nature in all its brutality, loving it despite the darkness he finds. “Aguirre” is all about that darkness, following the titular character and his parade of followers as they search for a fabled amazonian city of gold. The jungles, mountains, and rivers of South America make up the backdrop of the film, and they are breathtaking in every scene.
- Princess Mononoke (1997)
As soon as I was tasked with writing this list, I knew the first place spot would have to go to a Studio Ghibli film. All of them, for the most part, are about the beauty of nature, but “Princess Mononoke” is probably the most naturally based. “Princess Mononoke” tells the story of a girl raised by wolves and her battle against Lady Eboshi over the forest outside Eboshi’s city. This film is all about the sometimes metaphorical, sometimes literal battle between nature and development. The movie is animated beautifully by the master director Hayao Miyazaki. Earth Day is a day to celebrate the beauty of nature, in my opinion the best way to do this is with a Studio Ghibli film, and I think “Mononoke” is the one for it.