The Environmental Video Collection educates viewers |


The Environmental Video Collection educates viewers

The Environmental Video Collection educates viewers -- ''The Green Wall,'' ''Threat,'' and ''Cane Toads'' attempt to spread the message of environmentalism

Environmentalism is anything but an endangered species in Hollywood movies these days, from The Naked Gun 2 1/2 to The Medicine Man, the upcoming Sean Connery feature about Brazil’s rain forest. Viewers seeking a broader patch of green, however, can turn to an alternative resource: the Environmental Video Collection, a catalog of 39 tapes and sets embracing recycled classics and several titles never before released on video. A sampling of the best:

Loosely based on the childhood experiences of writer-director Armando Robles Godoy, this deeply emotional Peruvian feature recounts a city family’s bureaucratic battle to stake out a jungle claim and their difficulties living amid unforgiving nature. More than 20 years later, this award-winning film still leaves you slack-jawed and emotionally spent. B+

Few suffered more from the Chernobyl fallout than the Lapps of northern Scandinavia, where radioactivity from the 1986 Soviet nuclear explosion drifted northward to decimate the reindeer and fish stocks that made up the native economy. Among the most bitter facts of all, as this elegiac documentary attests, is that the primitive Lapps are deeply respectful of nature and use no electricity themselves. B

Imported in 1935 to fight a destructive beetle, softball-size cane toads now constitute a bizarre man-made environmental disaster in northern Australia: They eat everything, fend off predators with a natural poison, and are such persistent breeders that a male toad is here observed attempting for eight hours to mate with a female that has been dead for several days. A whimsical educational documentary of rare wit and passion. A

Desk jockeys who dream of chucking it all have a role model in erstwhile Wall Street exec Rob Perkins. He took a 700-mile, nine-week canoe trip through the Canadian wilderness, carrying a camcorder to capture his encounters with brute nature and his thoughts on a ”voyage of understanding (where) my only true friend is my shadow.” A-

Done up as various endangered species (the Texas kangaroo rat is especially charming), members of Britain’s Royal Ballet perform in eight sprightly pieces composed by Simon Jeffes and choreographed by David Bintley. The 45-minute production melds art and social sensitivity in a way that is often attempted but seldom succeeds. B+