Henry David Thoreau Movies & TV

by Lena | created - 16 Nov 2012 | updated - 12 Aug 2014 | Public

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1. Little Women (1994)

PG | 115 min | Drama, Family, Romance

87 Metascore

The March sisters live and grow in post-Civil War America.

Director: Gillian Armstrong | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes

Votes: 41,022 | Gross: $50.08M

Thoreau isn't actually in this movie. But if you want a sense of what Transcendentalist life might have been like in 1860s Concord, then this movie is for you. It's based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, a student of Thoreau's at Concord Academy, and whose father Bronson was a major player in the Transcendentalist movement.

2. Marbles with Thoreau (2009)

16 min | Short, Adventure, Family

While exploring the woods near Walden Pond, two children stumble across a mysterious abandoned cabin. They quickly discover the cabin is in fact occupied by none other than the 19th century... See full summary »

Director: Melody George | Stars: Chris Ackerman, Anders Fillman, Josie Gammell, Skyler Nelson

Votes: 5

In this short film set in 1847, two impoverished children from the Boston slums stumble upon a strange cabin in the woods near Walden Pond. Its enigmatic resident helps them to see that though they are poor in worldly goods, they are rich in the things that really matter. Guess who it is!

3. Into the Wild (2007)

R | 148 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

73 Metascore

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

Director: Sean Penn | Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden

Votes: 496,340 | Gross: $18.35M

In 1992, 24-year-old Christopher McCandless hiked into the Alaskan outback to live solo off the land. He was heavily influenced by Thoreau and hoped to accomplish in Alaska what Thoreau did on Walden Pond. This film is based on his story.

4. Henry David Thoreau: Role Model (2001)

12 min | Comedy, Documentary, Short

Comedian Ritch Duncan returns to his hometown of Concord Massachusetts to see if anything remains of Thoreau's Walden Pond.

Director: Paul Francis Sullivan | Stars: Ritch Duncan, Patrick Gallo

Ritch Duncan is a comedian from Concord, Massachusetts. In this very short (12 minute) documentary film, he travels back to Concord and visits Walden Pond to see what's left of Thoreau's cabin.

5. New Walden (1991)

Not Rated | 51 min | Fantasy

Enjoy transcendentalism. New Walden is a transcendental motion picture. An exploitation of transcendental cinema by poet, singer MERWIN. "We present the only 35mm film ever to embrace the ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Gross | Stars: Kevin Ahlstrom, Liz Arnet, Jamie Bojanowski, Joella Bowden

Filmmaker Bruce Merwin's own website calls him the "Father of Transcendental Cinema." We're not sure how many other contenders there are for that title, but his first film tackled Thoreau's experiment at Walden. The film crew camped out at Walden Pond during shooting. The film was panned, and Merwin is working on another one.

6. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959–1963)
Episode: Dobie Versus the Machine (1961)

26 min | Comedy, Family

Adrift after graduation, Dobie and Maynard seek the counsel of their elders and of professionals on what next to do with their lives.

Director: Rod Amateau | Stars: Dwayne Hickman, Frank Faylen, Bob Denver, William Schallert

Votes: 14

9. Rip Dreams (2010)

24 min | Short, Adventure, Fantasy

Wandering through the Catskills in a dream, Rip Van Winkle stumbles across three rather anachronistic strangers, fleeing west.

Director: Nat Allister | Stars: Chester Davis, Phillip X Levine, Tim O'Connor, Booker James Winter

10. Walden (I) (2011)

78 min | Comedy, Horror

Henry David Thoreau purchases a house in Los Angeles to get away from distractions and write his memoirs and reflections. Little does he know that his house is actually a portal to hell. ... See full summary »

Director: Joel Trudgeon | Stars: Alan Michaud, Tony Baker, Rhiannon Hansen, Angelina Leaf

12. Great American Authors: Since 1650 (2007– )

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary

An eight part series presenting the lives and literary output of over 60 of America's most read authors from the 17th century to the present.

Stars: Jane Kaczmarek, Libby Baker, Shauna Earp, Scott Gordon

13. Seven Angry Men (1955)

Not Rated | 90 min | Biography, History, Western

Rise, fall and execution of John Brown, fanatic abolitionist.

Director: Charles Marquis Warren | Stars: Raymond Massey, Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter, Larry Pennell

Votes: 286