Student’s Corner

5 Disney Movies with Environmental Messages

Movies are a great way to spend time with family and friends, but did you know there are many fictional movies with significant meanings? While not based on actual experiences of a particular individual, some movies highlight environmental problems. Disney is known for its family-friendly films that are enjoyed by all. Here are a few of my favorite movies and how they relate to sustainability. Which of these have you watched?


This hit from 2008 takes place 700 years in the future when Earth has turned into a deserted, trash-covered ghost town. WALL-E is the last sentient being on the planet, as all humans have fled to giant spaceships. One day, one of the ships comes to Earth, bringing along robot EVE with whom WALL-E falls in love. They eventually return to space and convince humans they must return to Earth. The movie urges viewers to realize how their actions are affecting the environment. 

2. Bambi

This classic movie from 1942 follows a young deer, Bambi, and his friends who live in a forest threatened by hunters. When Bambi is still a fawn, his mother is killed by one of those hunters, and must grow up without her. Bambi’s love, Faline, is later attacked by hunting dogs as the forest goes up in flames. This movie focuses on deforestation and hunting animals. 

3. Finding Nemo

This 2003 film tells the story of Nemo, a clownfish, and his overprotective father Marlin. Nemo is captured and taken to Sydney. While the main message of the film was centered on conservation and the tragedy of taking wild coral fish from their homes and placing them in fish tanks, the film also teaches viewers a lot about the beauty of the ocean and its coral reefs. 

4. Pocahontas

This movie features Pocahontas, a Native American, who falls in love with John Smith, an English settler. She shows him her culture and spiritual relationship with nature. Although John Smith offers Pocahontas to return to his home, Pocahontas decides to stay among her own tribe, teaching that the natural world is not there to be harnessed by the civilizing effects of humans. 

5. Tarzan

This movie tells the story of Tarzan, a baby raised by gorillas after his parents were attacked by a tiger. A group of humans arrives to dig for gold when they encounter Tarzan and the gorillas. Tarzan saves the gorillas from Clayton, a hunter who wants to capture them. The movie’s message is that human impact on the environment is destructive, especially when the efforts are to exploit the natural world for commercial gain.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to movies with impactful messages. For more movie ideas, be sure to check out our Twitter page for our #SundayReading posts. 

Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022