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The SolarUK Film Guide

December 29, 2009

Christmas is a time to recline in front of the telly and enjoy a film.

How about a film engrossing enough to take your mind off family squabbles and hangovers, but which also has an environmental message to think about afterwards?

Our film guide might even make further appearances on this blog in the New Year, but here are three to start off with.  We are not including film versions of famous novels, except where the film has become better known than the book.  Unfortunately this counts out the rather touching Watership Down.   (Still, at least we’ve had an excuse to mention this rabbit-populated animation).


The China Syndrome (1979)

A thriller about safety coverups at a nuclear power station.  Thirty years after its release, it’s not showing its age, the themes of corporate greed and corruption being just as relevant as the nuclear energy debate.

The Emerald Forest (1985)

An American Engineer is working on a construction project in the rainforest when his young son is kidnapped by a little-known tribe. 

For an aspiring actor it must be quite handy having an established movie business figure for a dad, and Charlie Boorman, now better known for his TV motorcycling adventures, took on the role of the boy (found in the forest after a ten year search) in this John Boorman-directed drama highlighting the  conflict between nature and the ‘civilised’ world. 

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Taking global warming to its far-fetched conclusion, it’s a more a case of global freezing as the world plunges into a new Ice Age.  A disaster movie rather than a realistic picture of what will happen if carbon emissions aren’t curbed: but in a two hour film climate change has to happen very quickly.  A slightly colder than normal winter in New York wouldn’t be very exciting, would it?


And now to three more films.  Glancing at the choices, you might wonder what they have to do with environmental matters.  But just think about them through the prism of current ecological concerns, and a hidden green message reveals itself, unintentional though it was on the part of the scriptwriter.

Brief Encounter (1945)

Public transport, and railway waiting rooms in particular, make romance possible.  If the Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson characters had taken to their respective cars, they would never have had those platform encounters that led to romance.

Mary Poppins (1964). 

In this classic family film, which is getting a BBC airing this week, the magical nanny shows her young charges that a more fun-filled life is possible, eventually working her charms on the banker father: by the end he is quite happy to have left his corporate life behind and is enjoying the down-to-earth pleasures of spending time with his children flying kites.   

The Wicker Man (1973)

Under the stewardship of Lord Summerisle, the Scottish island in this scary film is clearly aiming for self-sufficiency, with its ‘back to nature’ (and to paganism) approach to crop growing.  The visiting police constable is given tinned food for his pub supper – a result of crop failure – which hints at a very commendable sensibility to the impact of seasons, the weather and the environment on our food production (which we easily forget, used as we are to year-round availability in supermarkets).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet permalink
    January 5, 2010 3:01 pm

    Having read the article on Christmas films, it has made me want to read “The Emerald Isle” and “Wicker Man”. The synopsis of both is good but probably not the original intention of the writer. Keep writing.

  2. solarukweblog permalink*
    January 5, 2010 3:13 pm

    Thank you for your comment. If you are planning on watching The Wicker Man, make sure it’s the original 70s version, and not the recent remake (which apparently isn’t very good).

  3. Jemma J permalink
    January 6, 2010 11:23 am

    Okay, not really a ‘classic’ but Happy Feet (2006) is an animated children’s film that is not only a toe-tapping musical but also touches upon other more serious issues, i.e. that of the impact of over-fishing the seas… In the cold land of Antarctica, the Emperor Penguins each declare their true love with a special heartsong of their own that expresses their very being. However, the misfit penguin Mumble cannot sing, but instead has an extraordinary talent to tap dance with almost magical energy and expression. Nevertheless, the deeply conformist leadership of the colony fearfully blames the young penguin’s unorthodox ways for the lean fishing that threatens them all. Defiant in the face of unjust rejection, Mumble and his true friends set out to find the real cause of the famine. Through the motley crew’s trials and perils, Mumble learns many things about his frozen world, not the least of which being that his toe tapping talent may be what he needs to save his people.

  4. solarukweblog permalink*
    January 10, 2010 4:24 pm

    Your synopsis of Happy Feet is enough to make anyone want to settle down with a DVD on this overcast, snowy Sunday afternoon and watch a tale of penguin life in a place even colder than so-called ‘Arctic Britain’. A cup of tea and a chocolate will have to do for the moment.

  5. January 20, 2010 2:55 pm

    Ha hah ha!Love it!

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