You wouldn’t think it would be hard to come up with five flicks that deal with frugality, but most films that came to mind had frugal living as just a subplot to the main point of the movie. The following five picks either deal with frugality as a main theme or they offer it as a background to the story. If any of them sound interesting make sure to frugally check your library for a copy first, or search to find them online.
Immaterial John – This 2004 documentary is about how John van der Harst lives in a small apartment in Detroit on around $3,600 per year. He does not own a car but instead runs everywhere, recycles or reuses almost everything, forages for food, cuts his own hair, and on and on. He works when he wants to and devotes the rest of his time to his favorite environmental and social causes.
Off the Map – This quiet little 2003 movie is not really about frugality, but the subject does make its way through the storyline. A husband, wife and their daughter live off the grid in the desert gardening, salvaging and making do without. The plot is really what will pull you in, and it includes friendship, coming of age, crippling depression, spiritual and artistic awakening, death, and credit card fraud among other things. Maybe it doesn’t belong on this list but, hey, it’s my list!
Alone in the Wilderness – When Dick Proenneke (1916 – 2003) decided to retire in 1968 he didn’t head for a little house in Florida or Arizona (as many Iowans do) to play golf between naps. Instead he made for the mountains of Alaska, built a cabin and enjoyed the wildlife and scenery for the next 30 years. During his stay he wrote journals, took photos and shot a lot of film, which was turned into several books and a fascinating documentary.
Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa – I watched this 2007 documentary last year and found myself increasingly fascinated with the story of how a group of people that includes misfits, patriots, survivalists, addicts, runaways, war vets, environmentalists, and various kooks lived their lives and ordered their “society” living off the grid in the New Mexico desert.
Frugal – This short 2010 documentary follows Kimberly Clancy and a friend as they hunt a grocery store searching for deals with coupons galore, until they finally checkout and you see how much money they saved.