Climate films are mainstream or independent films that include significant references to human-caused climate change. Climate may be the central theme or one of several themes. Narrative climate films tell a fictional story involving climate change. Documentary climate films tell a creative nonfiction story involving climate change.
Narrative Climate Films
- Beasts of the Southern Wild. Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
- Don’t Look Up. Two astronomers go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. The comet serves as an allegory for the climate crisis. [Treesong’s Review of Don’t Look Up]
- Snowpiercer. In a future where a failed climate change experiment has killed all life except for the survivors who boarded the Snowpiercer (a train that travels around the globe), a new class system emerges.
- The Day After Tomorrow. Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.
Documentary Climate Films
- Merchants of Doubt. A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.
- An Inconvenient Truth. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
Improving Climate Representation in Film
Good Energy is a nonprofit story consultancy for the age of climate change. They aim to make it as easy as possible to portray the climate emergency on-screen in entertaining and artful ways, in any storyline, across every genre.
Good Energy offers an open-source Playbook for Screenwriting in the Age of Climate Change: a digital guide to portraying climate change on-screen, including story inspiration, cheat sheets, character profiles, solutions, and projections into the future.
Good Energy and the USC Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project produced A Glaring Absence, a groundbreaking report that analyzed 37,453 TV and movie scripts from 2016-2020. Their findings confirm what we all suspected: there is a glaring absence of climate change in scripted media.