Liberated: Animal Rights Inspired Films

Animal rights issues are rarely explored in film. When they are, they have a powerful impact on audiences of all ages. You don't have to be an animal rights activist to appreciate the themes, however, they will surely leave an impressionable impact on you. NOTE: Not all of these films are suitable for young children, and don't be fooled by their childish, cartoon appeal. Some of these films are quite disturbing and confronting for even adult viewers.
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1.
The Plague Dogs (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Two dogs escape from a laboratory and are hunted as possible carriers of the bubonic plague. (103 mins.)
Director: Martin Rosen
“ This is perhaps one of the most powerful, fictional animal-testing film ever made. Although it's an animation, it is definitely NOT suitable for young children, and some adults will find it disturbing and unsettling. The story follows the journey of Rowf and Snitter, two dogs who have escaped from a horrendous animal-testing facility, and embark on an unforgiving escapade. It does contain some violence, however, that is not what makes this film shocking. It is the unrelenting and realistic nature of animal-testing and survival that make this film truly memorable. Your opinions on animal-testing do not matter, "The Plague Dogs" explores a matter-of-fact account of what vivisection involves. A truly powerful and remarkable film; wholeheartedly recommended! ” - Marjanni
 
2.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
Elle Woods heads to Washington D.C. to join the staff of a congresswoman in order to pass a bill to ban animal testing. (95 mins.)
“ Takes a more "child-friendly" approach to animal testing. No experiments are shown, however, the overall feeling towards it is negative. The ending is completely unrealistic, as the audience is left feeling that animal testing has been ended; hooray! In reality, there's no chance of this. ” - Marjanni
 
3.
The Shaggy Dog (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
A man tries to live a normal life despite the fact that he sometimes turns into a sheepdog. (98 mins.)
Director: Brian Robbins
“ Like the above, the film approaches the topic of vivisection less intensely than "The Plague Dogs". It is a bit more stark than Legally Blonde 2, but no experiments are shown, rather alluded to. ” - Marjanni
 
4.
Paulie (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Paulie, a talking parrot, recounts his travels looking for his original owner to a Russian janitor who helps him to the end of his journey. (91 mins.)
Director: John Roberts
“ Another kids film that touches on animal testing. No experiment scenes are shown, but like Legally Blonde 2, the overall atmosphere is upsetting. ” - Marjanni
 
5.
Food, Inc. (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry. (94 mins.)
Director: Robert Kenner
“ Any documentary style film on this list shows ACTUAL scenes of animal cruelty. Food Inc is an educational expose on the food industry, exploring all kinds of themes, not all are about the welfare of animals. Depicts actual footage from inside slaughterhouses, which are quite but not overly graphic. Not recommended for children, unless you think they can handle it without turning vegetarian. Beautifully constructed film. ” - Marjanni
 
6.
I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A candid and introspective look at the extreme beliefs and motives of Ingrid Newkirk, the British-born co-founder and driving force behind People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world's largest animal-rights organization. (72 mins.)
Director: Matthew Galkin
“ If it's a story about PETA, that should really say it all. Whatever your views are about animal rights and PETA in general, it is still quite an interesting film. It details how PETA became, well, PETA as we know it. It does show some pretty disturbing footage of animal cruelty, ranging from animals being skinned alive on fur farms to slaughterhouse footage. Not recommended for children. An intriguing documentary that may just change your mind about animal rights. ” - Marjanni
 
7.
Chicken Run (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
When a cockerel apparently flies into a chicken farm, the chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners. (84 mins.)
“ A well-rounded wholesome kids flick. In regards to animal rights, it depicts the dismal existence of egg-laying hens, however, it is done in a way that will not upset children. Any parent considering this for their kids' viewing should not be concerned. ” - Marjanni
 
8.
101 Dalmatians (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A woman kidnaps puppies to kill them for their fur, but various animals then gang up against her and get their revenge in slapstick fashion. (103 mins.)
Director: Stephen Herek
“ This iconic Disney film 'delicately' explores the nature of the fur industry. Of course we don't see any scenes of puppies being skinned, however, the subject matter is depicted in a way that young children may find upsetting. The animals are 'hoped' to be skinned, bashed on the head, and poisoned, but a happy ending prevails. A good film in a sense it explores the cruel world of fur; a topic that is usually not touched upon in mainstream film. ” - Marjanni
 
9.
Fluke (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
After a man dies in a car crash, he is reincarnated as a dog and attempts to reconnect with his family. (96 mins.)
Director: Carlo Carlei
“ What is it with kids movies and animal testing? Anyway 'Fluke' is pretty appropriate for children, although it may have a 'Bambi' effect, if you know what I mean. Explores the nature of vivisection, not in grapchic detail however. Still may be upsetting to young children, and the overall tone is sad. ” - Marjanni
 
10.
Free Willy (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
When a boy learns that a beloved killer whale is to be killed by the aquarium owners, the boy risks everything to free the whale. (112 mins.)
Director: Simon Wincer
 
11.
Babe (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Babe, a pig raised by sheepdogs, learns to herd sheep with a little help from Farmer Hoggett. (91 mins.)
Director: Chris Noonan
 
12.
Earthlings (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. (95 mins.)
Director: Shaun Monson
 
13.
Sharkwater (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An investigation of sharks' importance to ecosystems and humankind's mass destruction of shark species worldwide. (89 mins.)
Director: Rob Stewart
 
14.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A substance, designed to help the brain repair itself, gives rise to a super-intelligent chimp who leads an ape uprising. (105 mins.)
Director: Rupert Wyatt
 
15.
Project X (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
An Air Force pilot joins a top secret military experiment involving chimps, but begins to suspect there might be something more to the mysterious "Project X". (108 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
 
16.
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
To save her ill son, a field mouse must seek the aid of a colony of rats, with whom she has a deeper link than she ever suspected. (82 mins.)
Director: Don Bluth
 
17.
Watership Down (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home. (91 mins.)
Director: Martin Rosen
 
18.
Rio (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
When Blu, a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, meets the fiercely independent Jewel, he takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams. (96 mins.)
Director: Carlos Saldanha
 
19.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The animals try to fly back to New York City, but crash-land on an African wildlife refuge, where Alex is reunited with his parents. (89 mins.)
 
20.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The magical inhabitants of a rainforest fight to save their home, which is threatened by logging and a polluting force of destruction called Hexxus. (76 mins.)
Director: Bill Kroyer
 
21.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
After being rescued and brought to an island, a man discovers that its inhabitants are experimental animals being turned into strange-looking humans, all of it the work of a visionary doctor. (96 mins.)
 
22.
Old Yeller (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A teenage boy grows to love a stray yellow dog while helping his mother and younger brother run their Texas homestead while their father is away on a cattle drive. First thought to be good-for-nothing mutt, Old Yeller is soon beloved by all. (83 mins.)
 
23.
Shiloh (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Marty Preston, a small-town Southern boy, must rescue a young beagle from abusive owner and recluse Judd Travers. (93 mins.)
Director: Dale Rosenbloom
 
24.
The Cove (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health. (92 mins.)
Director: Louie Psihoyos
 
25.
March of the Penguins (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family. (80 mins.)
Director: Luc Jacquet
 
26.
Pelts: Politics of the Fur Trade (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(57 mins.)
Director: Nigel Markham
“ Excellent film that explores the true reality of the fur trade with some graphic scenes. Not recommended for the kiddies; stick to 101 Dalmatians for that. If you wore fur before watching this, your morality will be drastically changed. Enough said. ” - Marjanni
 
27.
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. (129 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
 
28.
Your Mommy Kills Animals! (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
An in-depth look at the animal rights movement and the FBI's recent declaration calling them the number one domestic terrorist threat to the United States. (105 mins.)
Director: Curt Johnson
 
29.
Big Miracle (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
In small-town Alaska, a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend - a Greenpeace volunteer - on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. (107 mins.)
Director: Ken Kwapis
 
30.
Felidae (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A cat must investigate brutal murders of other cats in a neighborhood he has moved into with his owner. (82 mins.)
Director: Michael Schaack
 
31.
Animal Farm (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A successful farmyard revolution by the resident animals vs. the farmer goes horribly wrong as the victors create a new tyranny among themselves. (72 mins.)
 
32.
Bold Native (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Charlie Cranehill, an animal liberator wanted for domestic terrorism, emerges from the underground to coordinate a nationwide action as his estranged CEO father tries to find him before the FBI does. (105 mins.)
 
33.
The Roots of Heaven (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In Fort Lamy, French Equitorial Africa, idealist Morel launches a one-man campaign to preserve the African elephant from extinction... (126 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
34.
The Ghosts in Our Machine (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A cinematic documentary that illuminates the lives of individual animals living within and rescued from the machine of our modern world. (93 mins.)
Director: Liz Marshall
 
35.
Death on a Factory Farm (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Death on a Factory Farm follows the undercover investigation of Wiles Hog Farm by the animal rights group: The Humane Farming Association (HFA)... (83 mins.)
 
36.
The Animals Film (1981 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The film offers a comprehensive examination of the exploitation of animals in modern society. (136 mins.)
 
37.
The Superior Human? (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A documentary that systematically challenges the common human belief that humans are superior to other life forms... (73 mins.)
 
38.
Defenders of the Wild: Rangers of Nepal (1993 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
A film profile of the park rangers in Bardia National Park who have to protect the mountain kingdom's river dolphins...
 
39.
Blackfish (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales. (83 mins.)
 
40.
Giving Thanks (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
"Giving Thanks" (2007) redefines the traditional animal welfare film through one woman's unconventional journey with a Thanksgiving turkey... (47 mins.)
 
41.
Farmed and Dangerous (2013 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X