This site examines representations of nature in mainstream film, ecocinema, and media while also looking at film itself as a form of nature writing.
Writing about nature in Los Angeles, Jenny Price not only seeks to redefine nature writing but also argues it has lost its relevance. “The core trouble is that nature writers have given us endless paeans to wildness since Thoreau fled to Walden Pond, but they need to tell us far more about our everyday lives in the places we live,” she argues. “Perhaps you’re not worrying about the failures of this literary genre as a serious problem. But in my own arm-waving manifesto about L.A. and America, I will proclaim that the crisis in nature writing is one of our most pressing national cultural catastrophes” (Price). She believes nature writing has failed because it ignores the urban world in which most of us live, especially the urban world of Los Angeles, and because it disregards the products of our everyday lives now seen as necessary: from concrete to electricity.
This same problem permeates eco-films and the film industry that produces them. Films blatantly seen as environmental—documentaries and fictional films that tackle ecological issues—are discussed as “nature writing” or, as David Ingram calls them, “film vert.” Examples are Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour (2007). Films with more hidden environmental messages, however, receive short shrift in ecological film festivals or award contests. And discussions about the film industry itself and its impact on the environment are all but erased in explorations of environmental films. Onscreen, eco-films articulate environmental messages as powerful as the anti-global warming manifesto, An Inconvenient Truth; yet the environmental impact of the film industry and its Los Angeles setting is all but ignored.
Other films merely reflect changes in our culture, but we see these films as indicators of real changes in worldview and, as in the case of earlier films, a change at least in our own views as audience members. Contemporary popular environmentalist films like Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age: The Meltdown, and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) provide obvious ecological messages couched in comedy or melodrama. These films indicate a move in Hollywood toward “film vert,” as David Ingram explains in his “Preface” (vii), toward a greening of Hollywood and, as Dan Bloom puts it, Cli-fi. This site seeks to explore such films.