We all know that the word “green” has come to mean the eco-friendly use of renewable resources. But how many films that include the word “green” in their title actually promote these ideals?
The Green Mile (1999) Tom Hanks plays a death row prison guard who befriends “gentle giant” black inmate John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) who has magical healing powers. His ability to heal a urinary tract infection and resurrect a dead mouse is very eco-friendly. The amount of voltage used to electrocute prisoners — not so much.
Green Card (1990) Andie MacDowell plays a horticulturist / environmentalistwho creates urban gardens and parks. To rent her dream apartment, she marries a Frenchman (Gerard Depardieu) who needs a green card. Comic deceptions and romantic hi-jinks ensue. The heroine’s profession, and the fact that Depardieu showers only occasionally, make this a very eco-friendly film.
The Corn is Green (1945) Bette Davis stars as a schoolmarm in a Welsh coal mining town, determined against all odds to raise her promising pupil (John Dall) out of poverty and into Oxford. The theme of giving back to the community is inherently green. That whole coal mining thing? Uh, no.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Female bonding abounds in this warm-hearted, Southern-fried saga of friendship, pregnancy, kidnapping and murder. The book’s lesbian love affair was merely implied in the film, but the film’s punch-line (missing dead body becomes barbecue) shows a fine use of recycling.
How Green Was My Valley (1941) This Oscar-winning classic details the trials and tribulations of a close-knit Welsh coal mining family who contend with forbidden love, a labor strike and the coming of age of its young narrator (Roddy McDowall). The dangers of mining remind us that there’s no such thing as “clean coal.”
Soylent Green (1973) Charlton Heston stars in this dystopian vision of 2022, when real food is scarce and the overpopulated masses subsist on Soylent Green, a small green wafer, supposedly made of “high-energy plankton.” This is an eco-friendly cautionary tale with a great climactic punch-line: “Soylent Green is people!” The ultimate renewable resource.