Seaspiracy: 5 more documentaries that changed the way we see the world

Many viewers said they would never eat fish again after watching Netflix documentary

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 31 March 2021 17:05
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Seaspiracy trailer

Seaspiracy is the latest documentary to change viewers’ minds about important topics in the world.

Released on Netflix last week, the documentary explores the damage being done to marine life such as sharks, dolphins and whales by the global fishing industry.

Many viewers said that the film had persuaded them to stop eating fish altogether as a means of helping the environment, with The Independent’s Charlotte Cripps writing in her four-star review that Seaspiracy “exposes the corrupt world of the multibillion-dollar seafood industry I never knew existed”.

However, Seaspiracy is by no means the first documentary to change the way we think about things. The environment, healthy eating and the criminal justice system are all topics that have been covered over the years by moving and thought provoking documentaries.

If you enjoyed Seaspiracy, here are five more documentaries that impacted the way we see the world...

Read more:

Super Size Me (2004)

Super Size Me’s premise was simple: if one man ate three meals at McDonald’s every day, what would happen to him? This was the challenge set by Morgan Spurlock, who experienced mood swings and sexual dysfunction as unexpected side effects while taking part in the diet. But while the knowledge that junk food was bad presented wasn’t shocking, the Oscar-nominated film suggested that fast food outlets were the ones responsible for encouraging poor nutrition and were as liable as the tobacco industry when it came to the sale of addictive items. McDonald’s ended up removing the supersize option from their menu less than two months after the film’s release, although it claimed it was unrelated.

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

In 2021, true crime documentaries are a mainstay of any streaming service, podcast platform or TV network. But back in 1998, when they were few and far between, The Thin Blue Line investigated the case of Randall Dale Adams. Adams was a prisoner on death row accused of murdering a police officer; not only did the documentary reach a different conclusion to Adams’s trial, but filmmaker Errol Morris obtained an admission of his innocence from the actual murderer, David Harris. The evidence put forward by Morris was deemed so compelling that it helped overturn Adams’s conviction after wrongly spending 12 years behind bars, just days before he was due to be killed by lethal injection.

Blackfish (2013)

A pioneering and shocking film looking into the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld in Orlando, Blackfish centred around Tilikum, an orca who had killed three people. The documentary looked into the ways that being captured and living in captivity contributed to his aggression. SeaWorld refused to take part in the documentary and later announced that it had suffered $15.9m (£11.5m) losses following Blackfish’s release. In 2016, they announced that they would be ending their killer whale breeding programme and begin phasing out live performances with the animals. However, at the time of writing, their Orca Encounter show is still being staged, although the brand’s reputation has arguably never recovered.

Cowspiracy (2014)

Before there was Seaspiracy, there was Cowspiracy. This 2014 documentary takes aim at the animal agricultural industry and its impact on the environment in areas such as deforestation and global warming, concluding that meat and dairy production is the primary source of environmental destruction. While the film faced backlash, with some critics saying that it shifted blame away from the fossil fuel industry, it inspired many viewers to go vegan for good after watching.

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Documentary maker Michael Moore is known for his provocative investigative films, but perhaps his most famous is the 2002 Oscar winner Bowling for Columbine. The documentary used the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which 12 students and one teacher were murdered, as a way of looking at gun violence and mass shootings in the US. In one scene, Moore confronted Kmart execs about their sales of firearms in store, with the company later announcing that it would stop selling bullets in all of its stores.

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