While local rep theaters are out of commission, we’ll be putting together weekly watchlists of films readily available to stream. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we’ve assembled a list of five nature-centric films that take you around the world—from the forests of Portland to the waters of New Zealand.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Set in Portland’s Forest Park, this highly acclaimed drama from Debra Granik centers on a father and his 13-year-old daughter who have been living off the grid for years in the urban-adjacent woods. The film is based on a true story and impressively grounded—the only improbable aspect is that the duo isn’t constantly running into teens smoking weed out of soda cans. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Hulu, Kanopy, Philo, Sling TV, Starz, Vudu, YouTube.
Whale Rider (2003)
When Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), the 12-year-old daughter of a Maori chief, expresses interest in inheriting her father’s position, her traditionalist grandfather insists that only a boy can lead, even though her powerful relationship with whales and the ocean is undeniable. Castle-Hughes’ tenacious performance in this family drama earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hoopla, iTunes, Kanopy, IMDb TV, Pluto TV, Tubi, Roku, Vudu, YouTube.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
In this beloved Studio Ghibli classic, a young prince is cursed by a demon and embarks on a journey through the forests of Muromachi-era Japan to find a cure. Before long, he finds himself in the middle of an environmental conflict between a mining company and the forest gods, which includes a giant wolf voiced by Gillian Anderson. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, HBO Max, Vudu, YouTube.
With no dialogue, narration or rigid narrative structure, this experimental film begins with organic images of nature, then mutates into synthetic depictions of urban development and technology, all set to an iconic score by Philip Glass. Drawing inspiration from its title, the Hopi word for “life out of balance,” Koyaanisqatsi serves as a reminder of where we came from and where we’re heading. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hoopla, iTunes, Tubi, Vudu.
Grizzly Man (2005)
Werner Herzog’s documentary centers on bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, who spent 13 summers living among the grizzlies in Alaska until one of them mauled him and his girlfriend to death in 2003. Drawing on more than 100 hours of Treadwell’s own footage, Herzog paints a fascinating portrait of an eccentric figure. Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Hoopla, iTunes, Tubi, Vudu, YouTube.