At GrowthBusters we consider World Population Day (July 11) an annual opportunity to bring the topic of overpopulation into sharper focus. We have some interesting things in store for you this year in the days leading up to World Population Day.
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This year we thought we’d come up with the ultimate list of the Top Ten Population Films of all time. While I do consider myself the world’s foremost authority on population in the media (not really), I thought it would be fun to invite readers to nominate and vote for films to be on this list.
My co-producer, Lynsey, and I have put our heads together and come up with this preliminary list. But I’m sure we’ve overlooked a few gems, so please comment below with any titles you think we should add.
Please vote for your favorite below. We’ll announce the final tally right before World Population Day. (To see a movie poster in full, just click on the image.)
Children of Men (2006) Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine
The world of 2027 has fallen into chaos on the heels of an infertility defect in the population. The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. Set against a backdrop of London torn apart by violence and warring nationalistic sects, Children of Men follows a disillusioned ex-activist turned bureaucrat trying to protect a women who has become miraculously pregnant.
Available on Vudu and Amazon
Critical Mass (2012)
This documentary by Mike Freedman centers on the work of Dr. John B. Calhoun at the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. between 1958 and 1983. Calhoun experimented with rats to explore changes in behavior as they were provided unlimited food and water, but not space. This launches an exploration of human population growth.
Available on Vimeo and Youtube
GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth (2011)
I directed this documentary challenging the myths linking growth with prosperity and fulfillment. It explores how our beliefs about economic, consumption and population growth prevent rational responses to evidence we’ve outgrown the planet. I’m biased, but this film belongs on the list because of its honesty about overpopulation and exploration of the topic’s taboo. GrowthBusters includes interviews with a host leading thinkers like Paul Ehrlich, William Rees and Herman Daly. It also chronicles my own David vs. Goliath adventures in growthbusting: “My mission is to make it okay to be against growth.”
Available on Pivotshare, Amazon, and direct from producer
Idiocracy (2006) Luke Wilson
This depressing comedy depicts a world in which irresponsible people outbreed the intelligent. Centuries of this phenomenon have resulted in a dim, oversexed dystopia.
Available on Amazon
Logan’s Run (1976) Michael York, Jenny Agutter
The idyllic society of 2274 figured out how to avoid the overpopulation problem. Everyone must be terminated when they reach age 30. As you might guess, Michael York explores other options.
Available on Amazon
Mother: Caring for 7 Billion (2011)
This elegant documentary by Christophe Fauchere is a must for any list of films about overpopulation. It’s factual, sensitive, and well-made, but a little more PC than GrowthBusters. In some ways that’s a plus; in others not so much.
Currently available free at the producer’s website
Soylent Green (1973) Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Edward G. Robinson, Dick Van Patten
This cult classic starred Charlton Heston as a police detective navigating a highly overpopulated world. The imagery of an overcrowded world in this film is intense. Meat is a rare, expensive, black-market delicacy. Food is rationed, and it doesn’t look too tasty. The dead are picked up every day by what look like garbage trucks and hauled off to… well, let’s not spoil the plot. If you haven’t seen this somewhat cheesy sci-fi romp, I recommend it. With each passing day I think the world imagined in Soylent Green is less and less far-fetched.
Available on Amazon
ZPG (1972) Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin
In a very smoggy and overpopulated world sometime in the future, the Earth government has banned the birth of babies for 30 years. Substitute robot babies are supposed to satisfy the urge to raise children. This film follows a woman who succumbs to maternal instincts, gives birth and tries to hide that fact from friends and the citizens of her community. Probably a bit of a P.R. nightmare for the group, Zero Population Growth, which was quite active at the time (years later ZPG changed its name to Population Connection).
Available on Amazon and Netflix (DVD only)
Reader-Nominated. In a distant, but not so unrealistic, future where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess. Mesmerized with trinkets of Earth’s history and show tunes, WALL-E is alone on Earth except for a sprightly pet cockroach. One day, EVE, a sleek (and dangerous) reconnaissance robot, is sent to Earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with EVE. There is much truth about the human race in this animated robot love story.
Available on Amazon, iTunes and NetFlix(DVD only)
Thanks for your votes and nominations. Don’t forget you can suggest adding a film to this poll by commenting below. On July 10, the day before World Population Day, we’ll announce the final list, ranked according to your votes. The more voters we have, the more meaningful this list will be, so please ask your friends to come and vote, too!
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