10 Animal Movies to Help you Think about how we Treat them

10 Animal Movies to Help you Think about how we Treat them
Leah Padalino

Written and verified by the film critic Leah Padalino.

Last update: 20 October, 2022

Movies are a great means and a powerful weapon for showing us uncomfortable realities. So we’re going to show you 10 animal movies that are meant to make us think about how we treat them.

1. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Spirit is an animated movie by Dreamworks. The main character in it is a wild horse who has lived her whole life in freedom. That is, until she falls into human hands. They trap Spirit, sell her, and try to tame her, because they don’t care about her desire for freedom.

Even with all their efforts, Spirit is confident she doesn’t want to have any contact with humans. She wants to be free, and she’s not going to give up very easily. This story conveys a really strong fighting spirit, and makes you think about the role, or the obligation we occasionally make animals fulfill.

2. The Aristocats

Right next to the undeniable “man’s best friend,” there’s the cat. It’s the strange, furry creature that some people love and some people mistrust.  Cats are curious by nature, and they’ve been the source of endless myths and superstitions. Loved and hated throughout history, nobody is indifferent about cats, everyone has an opinion.

The Aristocats  is a story kind of like The Lady and the Tramp. But the interesting thing in The Aristocats is how caring Madame Bonfamillie, the owner of the cats, is toward them. After she gets her beloved cats back, she decides to adopt another one and create a home for strays from the city. 

This is one of those animal movies that reminds you that it’s possible to set up your own shelter. Or at the very least you can try to feed and support the cats that live on the street and encourage people to adopt.

3. Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a movie directed by Ang Lee, based on the novel of the same name. It makes you think about a million different philosophical and religious issues and questions. It’s a kind of poetic movie where a young man has to survive in a boat in the middle of the sea alongside a Bengal tiger.

It’s a wonderful story full of adventures and overcoming challenges, one where animals play a huge role. It’s hard to sum up the plot simply, so we’ll just say this: it’s an absolute must-see.

4. The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book  is an ode to nature and the purity of animals. The soundtrack to the movie is also worth a special mention, and it’s one of Disney’s best. Humans abandon little baby Mowgli, and it’s animals that end up taking care of him. This is how the movie shoes that sometimes animals can be much nobler than people.

Throughout history, there have been a lot of cases of wild children raised by animals. Along those lines, there’s the Spanish movie Among Wolves. This is a true story about a boy who spent 12 years living with them. 

The Jungle Book, along with The Lion King, is one of the animal movies that goes the most into the wild side of animal life. It’s about how they set up their hierarchies, how they interact with their environment, etc. It also makes you think about whether we should be taking these animals out of their natural habitat for our enjoyment, which is what we do with circuses and zoos.

5. Frankenweenie

Tim Burton made a short film called Frankenweenie in 1984 that was very similar to his same movie from 2012. But the short film wasn’t animated, like the feature movie is. The short version is much better than the feature, and it conveys a lot more emotion. The interesting part is that it deals with the theme of grief after losing a pet. It’s one of the most emotional animal movies there is.

The title is a clear reference to Frankenstein, and the main character’s name is even Victor. The story goes into the relationship between a boy and his dog, and the grief he goes through after it dies. Thanks to his own knowledge and his science classes, Victor manages to bring his dog back to life. 

6. 101 Dalmations

Animal skins have always been big business. Even though more and more people are refusing to wear them, they still have their fanatics. Some skins are also worth more than others. Animals like crocodiles, foxes, and bison have been some major victims of our fashion trends. Plus, a lot of the time our society is ignorant about this part of things. We don’t make much of a fuss, because they’re not as close to us as dogs or cats. That’s why we don’t see it as a big controversy when people use them to make pieces of clothing.

Think about it for a second, w ould you wear a coat made out of dog fur? Even just thinking about it probably disgusts you. How could you wear a coat made of “man’s best friend? That would be crazy! That’s basically what 101 Dalmatians is about. We all fall in love with the little dalmatian puppies that are like the main character in the movie. We also see Cruella de Vil as one of the worst kinds of villain, an animal murderer. 101 Dalmations shows us the awful truth behind those ever-so-valuable fur coats.

101 dalmatians, a great movie about animals

7. The Bear

The Bear is a French movie from 1988 that’s full of emotions. The main character in it is a little bear who loses his mother after a rockslide. This young bear strikes up a friendship with an older one who becomes like his adoptive father.

The movie shows you how these animals have to run away from all the hunters who go after them. So, just like other similar movies, humans are the main villains in this one too. The message is clear: animals have a right to their life, and the natural world deserves our respect. 

8. Ferdinand

This is one of the very recent animal movies that calls  bullfighting into question. So it’s no surprise that it sparked a huge controversy in some parts of the world, like Spain. Ferdinand doesn’t like violence. He’s a peaceful bull who just wants to live a calm life. But he’s a bullfighting bull (something humans decide for him), so if he’s brave enough he’ll have to go into the ring until he dies.

Bullfighting can start controversy just by saying the word. Some people see it as an art, and other people see it as torture. In the middle of that debate, Ferdinand brings us the eternally forgotten perspective: the animal’s. Does anyone know whether the bull wants to be there or not? Does an animal really need to suffer just so a crowd can have fun? Can we change our traditions or do they have to stay the same? This is one of those movies that will definitely spark a lot of debate, just as much because of its topic, and because the movie is meant for kids (which doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it!).

9. Bambi

Bambi is another one of the animal movies that’s about respect for nature and animals living in freedom. It’s also one that made a lot of us cry when we were little, and maybe even now. Bambi is a baby deer who lives happily in the forest with his mother. All the species in this forest live in perfect harmony, except for one.

The species that just can’t respect the peace in the forest is, of course, humankind. Just like The Bear (although this one is for an even younger audience) it’s about how animals have a right to be free.


10. Hachiko: A Dog’s Story

Of course, when you’re making a list of animal movies, you can never leave out Hachiko: A Dog’s Story. It’s an emotional movie that goes into things like animal loyalty, the friendship between humans and dogs, the endless emotions our furry friends can inspire in us, and what it means to love an animal.

Plus, the movie is also based on a true story. If you like animals, y ou’ll enjoy it right from the second it starts playing, although it might make you cry. 

“Men are the devils of the Earth, and animals are its tormented souls.

-A. Schopenhauer-

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.