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A Film List in hues of Green

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Men argue. Nature acts.”


Since the spread of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide, cities have been facing a horrid number of deaths and financial instability. When the outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, it seemed far away within the reach of Europe. No one could have predicted or expected the chaotic distress it would generate on a large scale as it branched out. Most cities on lock-down are now slowly lifting strict safety measures that were initially taken to control the pandemic, and citizens are now returning or starting to return to a seemingly normal life. Yet scientists predict that as the virus mutates, it will probably return in the colder months.

But Mother Earth could not be happier. While the death toll only kept escalating, the environment was thriving. This in itself says a lot about the impact we have on our surroundings and offers us an opportunity to re-think our world. Without dismissing the loss and tragedy caused by COVID-19, an outcome to be highlighted is the positive impact it has had on nature. Starting with the air we breathe, a direct result of the decline in traveling. With a decrease in gas emissions, which may have saved at least 77,000 lives in China, according to Earth Systems professor Marshall Burke, maybe it is time to have a lifestyle make-over.

Nature has always counted its losses. The Australian wildfires is one of many examples that have been both devastating and heart-breaking to watch on the news. It is also hard to grasp the reality of it all living in a global city, where the occasional squirrel or fox make an appearance in broad day-light (and there have been many strolling around care-free lately!) For once in a very long time, nature has finally gained the upper-hand, just as it has in these films. As a foreboding and menacing presence or as part of the film aesthetic, here is a selection of films in which plants and lush vegetation take centre-stage.

1. Being There (Director: Hal Ashby, 1979)

A gardener finds his life changed when his path crosses that of a business man, who appoints him as his trusted advisor to the surprise of his entourage.

© United Artists

2. Little Shop of Horrors (Director: Frank Oz, 1986)

A florist relies on the help of a giant man-eating plant in order to find love and success, yet his new chance at finding happiness is tested as the plant grows hungrier.

© Warner Bros.

3. The Scent of Green Papaya (Director: Trần Anh Hùng, 1993)

A servant girl observes the lives of the occupants within two different households, and becomes the object of affections of a married pianist in her adulthood.

© Président Films

4. Léon (Director: Luc Besson, 1994)

A professional and solitary hitman takes in a girl after her family is murdered by a corrupt agent, and winds up teaching her the secrets of his trade.

© Gaumont Buena Vista International

5. The Constant Gardener (Director: Fernando Meirelles, 2005)

A diplomat and widower is determined to get to the bottom of a conspiracy and solve the mystery of his wife's murder, with their love story unfolding in flashbacks.

© Focus Features

6. 12 Years a Slave (Director: Steve McQueen, 2013)

A free African-American is abducted by two con men and sold into slavery, and finds himself working on a plantation in Louisiana for twelve years before being released.

© Summit Entertainment

7. The Martian (Director: Ridley Scott, 2015)

After his team assume him dead, an astronaut must rely on his wits to find a way to signal to Earth that he is very much alive and stranded on the planet of Mars.

© 20th Century Fox

8. The Girl with All the Gifts (Director: Colm McCarthy, 2016)

A scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers embark on a journey of survival with a girl harboring special gifts, amid a world wiped out by a fungal disease.

© Warner Bros. Pictures / Saban Films

9. Call Me by Your Name (Director: Luca Guadagnino, 2017)

A teenager and a graduate student meet over the course of the summer and find themselves increasingly attracted to one another, despite their differences.

© Memento Films International

10. Annihilation (Director: Alex Garland, 2018)

A group of scientists sign up for an expedition into a mysterious and quarantined zone caused by an alien presence, where the laws of nature do not apply.

© Netflix

11. Song Lang (Leon Le, 2018)

A debt collector forms an unlikely relationship with a struggling opera performer, and their blossoming friendship soon awakens unexpected feelings in both men.

© The Film Collaborative

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