Film has become a major source of entertainment in American Culture. Because of this, filmmakers have used film as a way to express messages of morality to a wide range of the population, one of these messages being the state of the environment. By analyzing the films, “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” as well as “Erin Brokovitch”, humankind has been given two roles; Mankind is Nature’s savior as well as Nature’s executioner.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
FernGully: The last Rainforest , an Australian-American film directed by Bill Koyer in 1992. It’s purpose was to teach younger generations as well as current generations about deforestation. As the plot begins to start, human beings, who have created the machines necessary to destroy the forests for personal gain, are shown as the villains of Nature.
Crysta is the magical protector of the forest and her homeland, FernGully
(FernGully: The Last Rain Forest)
The film begins with a curious fairy named Crysta, who starts to go farther than her home in FernGully to venture near the rainforest near Mount Warning. She believes that humans dwell on the mountain. Her motherly figure and elder sprite Magi, tells her that humans were extinct after their enemy, Hexxus, reined over the forest many years ago. Crysta will be in charge of the well being of the forest and her homeland, FernGully, when she is done with her training under Magi’s careful watch. She represents Nature’s protector in the story. Her adventure of the Rainforest, set in the forests surrounding Mt. Warning in Australia, gives Bill Koyer an opportunity to make his audience sympathize with the destruction of Nature.
To keep the genre of children’s fantasy, the most direct way Bill Koyer and team could express the dangers of humanity’s destruction to the rainforest were through song. Batty Koda, a character creation voiced by Robin Williams, is an escaped bat from a laboratory that uses animal test subjects. His rap recalls all the experiments he was forced to endure for human gain
(FernGully: The Last Rainforest)
This song gives us, the audience, the animal’s point of view of the receiving end of the experiments. After Batty’s rap, the film keeps Batty as a companion to Crysta as she goes towards the destroyed area of the forest.
Witnessing the destruction of the forest as the human made machine, known to the humans as a tree leveler, cuts and chips away the tree. In this time, we, as the audience, meet Zak, the human protagonist of the film.
Zak is an ambitious teenager who works for the company that is destroying the forest. (FernGully: The Last Rainforest)
Crysta accidently shrinks Zak to the size of a fairy from trying to save him from a fallen tree. She takes him on a journey through the forest to her homeland, FernGully, where the elder, Magi, could possibly restore him to his rightful size. In this direction, Bill Koyer makes Zak the representation of human naiveté towards the destruction that surrounds him.
As Zak starts to see Nature in another point of view, it leads into the revelation of Hexxus, the main villain of the story. A dark magic, Hexus feeds off of pollution of the world. Similar to Batty’s rap, Bill Koyer directs another song describing Hexxus’s intentions, voiced by Tim Curry.
Reaching FernGully, Crysta and Zak are met with the other fairies. During this time, Zak becomes more and more sympathetic towards Nature and empathizes with the other fairies. Bill Koyer creates this idea for the audiences by showing Crysta teach Zak that even though trees can’t scream, they feel pain.
(FernGully:The Last Rainforest)
When Hexus arrives with the machine to FernGully, Zak is forced to reveal to Crysta that he was always apart of the machine that is cutting down the forest. Devastated, Crysta runs away with the other fairies to try to defend their home. Zak goes from the representation of human naiveté to the representation of Nature’s destroyer. Then in a turn of events, Zak becomes the hero as he aids Crysta and the other fairies by turning off the machine, stopping Hexxus’s power.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest may be just fantasy for children, but the moral of the film is real. Humans were the villains from the start, but they weren’t the defined villains. Hexus in the story signifies human greed and consumerism, and Zach represents the naiveté of humans who later change their significance to Nature’s hero.
Redirecting the idea of fantasy, the film industry expresses Environmentalism by the film Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh in 2000. Based on a true story, Erin Brockovich (portrayed by Julia Roberts) brings the firm she works a case of where human rights are overlooked by a major company, PG&E. PG&E contaminates the water of Hinkley Township by putting hexavalent chromium in the water from their power plants. Erin Brokovich, a single mother with no education or experience, brings the injustice to light, setting the moral back into reality from the fantasy world of FernGully.
Julia Roberts portrays Erin Brockovich, a woman with no experience who took the powerful PG&E to court. (Erin Brockovich, 2000)
In this setting, the villain isn’t hidden behind a magical creature status, like FernGully, but a human corporation, PG&E, that reap the benefits of Nature and take advantage of the Hinkley residents. PG&E Water takes advantage of the Hinkley residents low-status, making them sign contracts, liberating the company from any health related problems due to the water. Erin investigates the area as well as locating all records of the contamination that PG&E deliberately overlooked in the water.
(Erin Brockovich, 2000)
When Erin, the protagonist, raises awareness to the law firm she works for, the company, PG&E, tries to make several offers to put the dispute to rest. In this society, money is influential. PG&E start to notice that Erin and her firm are uncovering evidence that directly links their actions to the medical problems of the families in Hinkley Township.
(Erin Brockovich, 2000)
As Erin continues to bring more bad light onto the company PG&E Water, the company hires more lawyers to try and stop Erin and her firm from helping the Hinkley residents to sue the company for the all the medical problems caused by the contaminated water.
(Erin Brockovich, 2000)
When the clients go from 60 families to 600 families, Erin and the firm join another firm to the case to have better leverage over the billion-dollar company. In this instance, Erin discovers that she continues to struggle in the firm because of her uneducated background.
(Erin Brockovich, 2000)
Letting one judge determine whether PG&E should be held responsible for the contaminated water, it gives the audience the impression of the current state of Nature. When there is only one Nature, once it’s destroyed, it stays destroyed. When the Nature surrounding the Hinkley community was affected, the people were affected.
The film Erin Brockovich was based on a true story of the events of Erin Brockovich and Pacific Gas and Electrical Company of California. (google.com)
The Film Erin Brockovich holds more of a persuasive argument that there are severe consequences from the destruction of Nature because there is more persuasion that Humanity is Nature’s worst villain. In Erin Brockovich, the villains of Nature have no face, unlike FernGully, because the director, Steven Soderbergh, can make us, the audience, internalize that Mankind is the villain. With no image to direct our attention, we, as the audience, make the mental image of humanity to be the villain.
When humanity destroy Nature, we destroy the world we live in. once we use the natural resources, they are gone forever, just like there is no ozone after it burns up. In this case, films can teach mankind that we have two roles as the villain and as the savior.
Erin Brockovich and FernGully: The Last Rainforest are two different movies from two different genres. FernGully: The Last Rainforest directs it’s attention towards children, as Erin Brockovich targets older generations about the same message. Taking advantage of and destroying nature is wrong. When Nature is destroyed, (such as in FernGully) it affects the welfare of the world. When Nature is taken advantage of (such as in Erin Brockovich) it affects Mankind surrounding the area. Due to the negligence of Mankind, the world is becoming less healthy and it affects every living organism, including humanity, who live on it.
Humankind is the group that uses the most natural resources of the world. As we continue to use them with disregard for the consequences of using them, we forget how harmful we are to Nature. Film writes us the message of how evil to Nature we can be, but to persuade us, as a whole, to become Nature’s savior.
Analyzing the films, FernGully: The Last Rain forest, and Erin Brockovich, gives humanity two opposing roles. Mankind destroys nature and Mankind also saves it. For what purpose does serve knowing humanity have two roles? It’s important to know that we, as an audience, recognize these roles because they relay an important message. Humanity is the only hero of Nature because humanity is the only villain.