The animal rights movement is alive and well. In the age of climate action, animal advocacy is as crucial as ever. For decades, screenwriters and movie companies have produced gripping films that have led thousands of people across the globe to join their local animal advocacy group.
Movies have always been a potent campaign tool to reveal and highlight suffering and inspire action for disadvantaged groups. When it comes to animal rights, both children and adults have been captivated by moving tales on the silver screen.
This article lists the top 10 animal welfare movies that will likely inspire you to join organizations such as the Humane Society of New York or your local animal advocacy group. Five movies are suitable for kids, while the remainder are hard-hitting animal rights documentaries.
Free Willy (1993)
Thirty years after its release, Free Willy is a classic, depicting the tale of Willy, the orca captive at an amusement park who befriends an orphaned boy. A touching story of friendship between two misfits, Free Willy powerfully highlights the plight of animals in captivity for profitable human entertainment.
Critically acclaimed, the 1995 film Babe does a great job of humanizing farm animals. A family of dogs adopts Babe, the orphaned piglet, and teaches the baby pig to do the work of a sheepdog. The movie touches on the cruelty of meat production and likely turns moviegoers off sausages.
Chicken Run (2000)
If you don’t lay eggs on this English farm, you end up on the farmer’s dinner plate. Chicken Run by the makers of Wallace and Gromit depicts the great escape plot with a flock of chickens who have other ideas. From an animal rights point of view, the movie does a great job of highlighting the cruelty of commercial egg and chicken production.
Finding Nemo (2003)
The box office hit Finding Nemo tells the tale of a father’s quest to rescue his son from captivity. Nemo the clownfish has been ‘fish-napped’ into captivity, leaving his dad Marlin no choice but to risk his life to free him. The movie is a poignant reminder that fish have feelings and have the right to live freely in the ocean.
Marmaduke drives home an important message, inspiring people to adopt rescue animals rather than purchase purebred dogs. The Great Dane Marmaduke, Carlos, his best friend the cat and a pack of snobbish purebreds learn that pedigree isn’t all that matters, and friendship triumphs.
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Earthlings exposes human reliance and exploitation of animals across multiple industries, including clothing, entertainment, food, pets and scientific research. Each of these industries heads up a chapter in this documentary, exposing cruelty to animals, blatant neglect and disrespect for animals and their welfare. Using hidden cameras, the makers of Earthlings shot footage at factories, farms, pet stores and animal testing laboratories. The documentary makes an impassioned plea for a vegan lifestyle as it likens the ill-treatment of animals to racism.
Food Inc. (2008)
Food Inc. is a must-watch documentary on commercial food production in all its unsavory facets, including genetic modification, ill-treatment of animals and workers and the horrendous conditions animals endure at meat factories. The movie exposes the fact that large food producers are willing to forgo ethical and health concerns to increase profits and features unadulterated images of slaughterhouses and chicken batteries.
A.L.F. Behind the Mask: The Story of the People Who Risk Everything to Save Animals (2008)
Making the documentary about the activities of the Animal Liberation Front, gathering footage of direct action and interviews and putting it together in a documentary took almost three years. The documentary highlights how far activists are willing to go to fight for animal rights.
Maximum Tolerated Dose (2012)
MTD exposes animal testing procedures, where animals are administered increasing dosages until death to provide guidelines and parameters for human use. The scientists conducting these experiments navigate a thin ethical line between animal and human welfare. Maximum Tolerated Dose, the first feature-length movie by Decipher Films, combines investigative work, footage mashups and poignant reflection on the little-discussed issue of animal suffering.
The Superior Human? (2012)
This documentary challenges the common thinking that humans are superior beings while exploring the blatant human bias.
These movies and documentaries drum home the importance of animal rights and welfare while
inspiring those who watch them to take personal action. You may come away from watching them somewhat horrified as they pose hard questions about consumerism and profiteering that no one can escape.