Imag(in)ing the Anthropocene
Nature Films and/as Creation Tales
Keywords:Nature and wildlife film and television, film and religion, popular culture, Anthropocene, rewilding, mass media and environment
The popular association of nature films with scientific objectivity and secular environmentalism obscures how these films also deploy mythological, etiological, and cosmogonic symbols, themes, and narratives to create worlds that appeal to audiences. From Disney’s Nature’s Half Acre to March of the Penguins, nature films have employed technical artifice to show nature ‘as it is’, and at the same time operated as a means of storytelling about Creation as a sublime order suffused with meaning and purpose. But in these films, humans largely remained outside the ‘natural’ field of reference. At the threshold of the Anthropocene, in which concerns about human responsibility for degraded planetary conditions are highlighted, new films like Racing Extinction and the Earth—A New Wild series have explored the potential of creating alternative imaginary and visual worlds of nature that include humans, to support the generation of renewed moral purpose for addressing the global ecological crisis.
Aldridge, Meryl, and Robert Dingwall. 2003. ‘Teleology on Television? Implicit Models of Evolution in Broadcast Wildlife and Nature Programmes’, European Journal of Communication 18.4: 435-53. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323103184001.
Algar, James (dir.). 1951. Nature’s Half Acre (Disney’s True Life Adventures; Walt Disney Corporation).
Armbruster, Karla. 1998. ‘Creating the World We Must Save: The Paradox of Television Nature Documentaries’, in Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells (eds.), Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and Literature (London: Zed Books): 218-38.
Bagust, Phil. 2008. ‘“Screen Natures”: Special Effects and Edutainment in “New” Hybrid Wildlife Documentary’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22.2: 213-26. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10304310701861564.
Bousé, Derek. 2000. Wildlife Films (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812205848.
Calder, Gillian. 2009. ‘Penguins and Polyamory: Using Law and Film to Explore the Essence of Marriage in Canadian Law’, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 21.1: 55-89. Doi: https://doi.org/10.3138/cjwl.21.1.55.
Chris, Cynthia. 2006. Watching Wildlife (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).
Clark, Timothy. 2015. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (London: Bloomsbury).
Crowther, Barbara. 1994. ‘Toward a Feminist Critique of Television Natural History Programmes’, in Penny Florence and Dee Reynold (eds.), Feminist Subjects, Multimedia: Cultural Methodologies (Manchester: Manchester University Press): 183-90.
Discovery Channel. 2015. ‘Racing Extinction Press Notes’. Online: http://racingextinction.com/the-?lm/#press-kitA.
Dyas, Matthew (dir.). 2015. Earth—A New Wild (Passion Pictures).
Greisen, Steve (dir.). 2013. The Master Designer—The Song (Exploration Films).
Greisen, Steve (dir.). n.d. ‘The Master Designer—Guest’ (Southwest Radio Ministries). Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev8_zkVFDPc.
Hansen, Anders (ed.). 1993. The Mass Media and Environmental Issues (Leicester: Leicester University Press).
Holland, Jennifer. 2016. ‘Pandas Get to Know Their Wild Side’, National Geographic, August. Online: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/giant-pandas-wild-animals-national-parks/.
Horak, Jan-Christopher. 2006. ‘Wildlife Documentaries: From Classical Forms to Reality TV’, Film History 18 (2006): 459-75. Doi: https://doi.org/10.2979/FIL.2006.18.4.459.
Jacquet, Luc (dir.). 2005. March of the Penguins (National Geographic Feature Films and Warner Independent Pictures).
Lorimer, Jamie. 2015. Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation After Nature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). Doi: https://doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816681075.001.0001.
MacDonald, Scott. 2006. ‘Up Close and Political: Three Short Ruminations on Ideology in the Nature Film’, Film Quarterly 59.3: 4-21. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2006.59.3.4.
Malamud, Randy. 2009. ‘Animals on Film: The Ethics of the Human Gaze’. Online: http://www.english.gsu.edu/people.php?req=malamud.
Marris, Emma. 2015. ‘Humility in the Anthropocene’, in Ben Minteer and Stephen Pine (eds.), After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press): 41-49.
Miller, Jonathan. 2005. ‘March of the Conservatives: Penguin Film as Political Fodder’, New York Times, September 13. Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/13/science/13peng.html.
Mills, Brett. 2010. ‘Television Wildlife Documentaries and Animals’ Rights to Privacy’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 24.4: 193-202. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10304310903362726.
Mitman, Greg. 1999. Reel Nature: America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).
Palmer, Steven. 2010. Shooting in the Wild: An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press).
Palmer, Steven. 2015. Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker: The Challenges of Staying Honest in an Industry Where Ratings are King (Blue?eld, WV: Blue?eld Publishing).
Plate, S. Brent. 2017. Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World (New York: Columbia University Press, 2nd edn).
Psihoyos, Louie (dir.). 2015. Racing Extinction (Discovery Channel).
Revkin, Andrew. 2015. ‘PBS Series Explores a “New Wild” Sustained, Instead of Wrecked, by People’, New York Times, February 4. Online: https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/pbs-series-explores-a-new-wild-sustained-instead-of-wrecked-by-people/.
Rust, Stephen, Salma Monani, and Sean Cubitt (eds.). 2012. Ecocinema Theory and Practice (New York: Routledge). Doi: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203106051.
Sanjayan, M. 2015. ‘Why I Made EARTH a New Wild’. Online: https://blog.conservation.org/2015/02/why-i-made-earth-a-new-wild/.
Soulé, Michael, and Reed Noss. 1998. ‘Rewilding and Biodiversity: Complementary Goals for Continental Conservation’, Wild Earth 8.3: 19-28.
Vivanco, Luis. 2002. ‘Seeing Green: Knowing and Saving the Environment on Film’, American Anthropologist 104.4: 1195-204. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.2002.104.4.1195.
Vivanco, Luis. 2012. ‘Penguins are Good to Think With: Wildlife Films, the Imaginary Shaping of Nature, and Environmental Politics’, in Stephen Rust, Salma Monani, and Sean Cubitt (eds.), Ecocinema Theory and Practice (New York: Routledge): 109-27.
Weisman, Alan. 2013. ‘Anthropocenic Creation Tale’, Earth Island Journal 28.1: 53.
Wilson, Alexander. 1992. The Culture of Nature: North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell).
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.