Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top Eco-Doom Movies!

Mel Gibson, Al Gore, and Kevin Costner cracked at least this one Top 10 list.

But wait, where’s Bruce Dern? We wuz robbed!

It’s that time of year where everyone releases their top 10 lists, and the Mother Nature Network,, a new Internet news site created by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, has just released its top 10 eco-disaster movies of all time.

As a big fan of eco-doom movies, I couldn’t resist.

Their list includes Mel Gibson’s apocalyptic 1979 Mad Max, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and two flops, Kevin Costner’s Waterworld and Keanu Reeves’ The Day the Earth Stood Still. The really cool The Day After Tomorrow made the list—it should—and here's a surprise: Darwin’s Nightmare, a 2004 documentary about the ecological devastation of Tanzania’s Lake Victoria.

But four animated films make the list, including Wall-E, Happy Feet, Ice Age: the Meltdown, and Madagascar: Escape to Africa. Wall-E belongs, but Happy Feet? The overfishing subplot, while surprising, was just that, a subplot.

Truth belongs—it’s the most important environmental movie ever. So does Waterworld, an underrated ecological adventure. Max Max is great, especially in today’s end-of-oil-era times.

But where’s 1972’s Silent Running, one of the first and still best ecological sci-fi movies? Starring an impossibly young Bruce Dern as a botanist in space, he’s part of a crew caring for a series of satellite domes containing all of Earth’s plant life, as the planet itself is uninhabitable. The botanists are keeping the plants alive waiting for the day when they can return and replant. But budget cuts call for the end of the program, and the plants are to be jettisoned, which Dern, whose character’s name is Freeman, finds unconscionable. Great, underrated movie that played a HUGE role in at least this young environmentalist’s imagination. And I don’t think I’m alone.

I’d also add the magnificent 1982 Koyaanisqatsi with Philip Glass’ haunting soundtrack, and John Boorman’s rainforest-drenched The Emerald Forest (1985), with one of my favorite movie endings ever.
By the way, the Mother Nature News network is designed as “a one-stop resource and an everyman's eco-guide offering original programs, articles, blogs, videos, and how-to guides along with breaking news stories.” Compare to another similar outlet, the Environmental News Network,
And Happy New Year.