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Streaming Video Guides

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

Narrated by Celebrities

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.

American Umpire

This thought-provoking documentary about U.S. foreign policy chronicles how the United States became the world's policeman and questions how long the U.S. must continue to play this role. Narrated by Jim Lehrer, formerly of The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and written by award-winning historian Elizabeth Cobbs, the film explores the history of American military intervention and the future of America's military commitment abroad. After detailing the principles that guided U.S. foreign policy for 150 years and the sea change that followed WWII, the latter half of the one-hour documentary examines America's contemporary role on the international stage. The film concludes by asking whether it's time to rethink our current policies, scale down military spending, and bring our allies back into the game as fellow umpires. American Umpire combines archival footage with candid interviews from former secretaries of state George Shultz, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice; General Jim Mattis and Lt. General Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Nobel Prize winner Michael Spence; Pulitzer Prize winner David Kennedy; and eight scholars from around the world.  Narrated by Jom Lehrer.

Before the Flood

How much time do we have before our ecosystem collapses? Fronted by Academy Award®-winning actor, environmental activist and UN Messenger of Peace, Leonard DiCaprio, this landmark new film presents an informative and engaging account of how society can prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the globe.

The Big Picture: The General Marshall Story

Produced by the U.S. Army, this segment in The Big Picture series spans a critical half-century and is a pictorial record of General George C. Marshall's role as a public servant, placing him in the ranks of the great American patriots. Narrated by Walter Cronkite and introduced by Master Sergeant Stuart Queen, this engaging historical film features footage provided by the National Archives and Records Administration to appeal to young and old alike. This documentary follows Marshall's story and his brilliant military career to his role as statesman, diplomat, and peacemaker winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.  Narrated by Walter Cronkite.

Breaking the Taboo: Have We Lost the War on Drugs?

The war on drugs has been raging for more than 40 years. Over a trillion dollars has been spent, millions of people imprisoned, and countless thousands killed. And the result? Drugs are cheaper and more prevalent than ever before, and in a growing number of countries drug cartels are a major threat to national security. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this documentary examines the UN-sanctioned war on drugs, charting its origins and its devastating impact on countries such as the U.S., Colombia, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil.

The C Word

Cancer is not a laughing matter, but the archaic way people are beating it is. With a dose of good humor, heart, and a touch of rock'n'roll, this documentary reveals the forces that are keeping people sick and dares to ask: if up to 70% of cancer deaths are preventable, what are people waiting for? Narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Dirt!: The Movie

Featuring live action and animation, this movie examines the history and current state of the living organic matter that we come from and will later return to. Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis. 

Discover Hetch Hetchy With Harrison Ford

In 1890 the Hetch Hetchy Valley was preserved as the most beautiful natural feature in the northern half of Yosemite National Park. Like its renowned twin, Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy was carved by glaciers and is ringed by sheer granite cliffs and waterfalls. Tragically, this national treasure was dammed and flooded under 300 feet (100 meters) of water for use as a reservoir in 1923.

A Fierce Green Fire

Divided into five "acts", the film is an exploration of the environmental movement--grassroots and global activism--spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. Narrated by Meryl Streep.

Food Chains

In this exposé, an intrepid group of Florida farmworkers battles to defeat the $4 trillion global supermarket industry through their Fair Food program, which partners with growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States. A powerful true story of one small group of workers overcoming corporate greed to end slavery and abuse in America's fields. Narrated by Forest Whitacker. 


ituated at the confluence of major currents, the Galapagos Islands are not tropical – in fact they are cold. Reefs were only discovered here in 1975. With the help of a local guide, the team battles rough seas and cold water. They discover some flourishing reefs at Darwin Island and, further south, a natural laboratory to test the future of what reefs might expect in just a few decades. Narrated by Tilda Swinton. 

Girl Rising

View a groundbreaking film, which tells the stories of nine extraordinary girls from nine countries, written by nine celebrated writers and narrated by nine renowned actors. Viewers will see a showcase of strength from the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Narrated by Meryl Streep. 

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral On a Moving Train

This acclaimed film looks at the amazing life of the renowned historian, activist and author. Following his early days as a shipyard labor organizer and bombardier in World War II, Zinn became an academic rebel and leader of civil disobedience in a time of institutionalized racism and war. His influential writings shine light on and bring voice to factory workers, immigrant laborers, African Americans, Native Americans and the working poor. Featuring rare archival materials and interviews with Zinn and colleagues such as Noam Chomsky, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train captures the essence of this extraordinary man who was a catalyst for progressive change for more than 60 years. Narrated by Matt Damon • Featuring music by Pearl Jam, Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg.

Human Planet

Earth, water, wind, and fire according to tradition, these four pieces make up the complex puzzle of our world. In the spirit of that tradition, is there a fifth component, one so close and disturbingly powerful that we choose to overlook it? This program reverses the concept that nature shapes human destiny and instead focuses on the impact our species has had, and will continue to have, on the Earth's geological cycles. Perhaps surprisingly, the effects of human activity are not completely negative, even though today our footprint is bigger than ever and has the potential to do extreme, even irrevocable harm. The question viewers are left with is this-how will be use our influence over nature, now that we know its extent? Narrated by John Hurt. 

I Am Not Your Negro

An Oscar-nominated documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends--Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. 

Into the Abyss

This episode looks at the realignment of the European powers and the emergence of the alliance system in the years following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. It examines the key role played by royalty in smoothing the path to the Anglo-Russian entente of 1907 and at the part played by the kaiser's erratic, unstable personality in the growing isolation of Germany in the years leading up to 1914. It explores the role played by each of the three monarchs in the frantic, desperate days of July and August 1914. Narrated by Werner Herzog.

Life of a Universe

Drawing inspiration from the southern sky as he travels around Australia, renowned physicist and television personality Professor Brian Cox ponders the big questions about the universe. Exploring how the universe began, how it could end and when, Brian examines the work of eminent Australian based astrophysicists Katie Mack and Brian Schmidt and speaks to acclaimed cosmological luminaries such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, and more.

NOVA: The Pluto Files

Since its discovery in 1930, the ninth planet - Pluto - has held a warm place in the public imagination. So, when the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium stopped calling Pluto a planet, a great controversy ensued. Hayden Planetarium's Director Neil deGrasse Tyson found himself at the center of a firestorm led by angry, Pluto-loving elementary school students. But why has a cold, distant rock captured so many hearts? This episode of NOVA joins Tyson as he recounts the amazing story of Pluto's discovery and the captivating science that surrounds this former planet, including the possibility of finding more Pluto-like celestial bodies in the mysterious Kuiper belt, an area of icy rocks at the edge of the solar system. From the scientists trying to re-classify Pluto to die-hard Pluto-philes, Tyson meets a fascinating cast of characters with just one thing in common: strong opinions about Pluto. Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Planet Earth

This program will explore the composition of Earth, including the characteristics of the Earth’s surface, life on Earth, and the planet's many kinds of plants, animals, and fish. Narrated by Sigourney Weaver. 

Statue of Liberty

For more than 100 years, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of hope and a refuge for generations of immigrants. In this lyrical, compelling and provocative portrait of the statue, Ken Burns explores both the history of America's premier symbol and the meaning of liberty itself. Featuring rare archival photographs, paintings and drawings, readings from actual diaries, letters and newspapers of the day, the fascinating story of this universally admired monument is told.  Narrated by David McCullough 

The Times of Harvey Milk

A true twentieth-century trailblazer, Harvey Milk was an outspoken human rights activist and one of the first openly gay U.S. politicians elected to public office; even after his assassination in 1978, he continues to inspire disenfranchised people around the world. The Oscar-winning The times of Harvey Milk, directed by Robert Epstein and produced by Richard Schmiechen, was as groundbreaking as its subject. One of the first feature documentaries to address gay life in America, it's a work of advocacy itself, bringing Milk's message of hope and equality to a wider audience. This exhilarating trove of original documentary material and archival footage is as much a vivid portrait of a time and place (San Francisco's historic Castro District in the seventies) as a testament to the legacy of a political visionary. 

Toxic Sludge is Good for You

Tracks the development of the public relations (PR) industry from early efforts to win popular American support for World War I to the role of crisis management in controlling damage to corporate images. The video analyzes the tools public relations professionals use to shift our perceptions, including as an example the coordinated PR campaign to slip genetically engineered food past public scrutiny. Features commentary by PR Watch founder John Stauber, author of the book of the same name, as well as by cultural scholars Mark Crispin Miller and Stuart Ewen.Narrated by Amy Goodman.

Vanishing of the Bees

This documentary, narrated by Ellen Page, takes a piercing investigative look at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee. The film examines our current agricultural landscape and celebrates the ancient and sacred connection between man and the honeybee. The story highlights the positive changes that have resulted due to the tragic phenomenon known as "Colony Collapse Disorder." To empower the audience, the documentary provides viewers with tangible solutions they can apply to their everyday lives. 

Walking With Beasts: New Dawn

The dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, but what on earth happened next? This first episode of the sequel to Walking with Dinosaurs, drops in on our planet 49 million years ago to find it has fully recovered from the extinction and is covered in a mysterious forest. This is a time that the world has almost forgotten: Germany was a hot, sweaty jungle, birds ruled the Earth and preyed on miniature horses, and the ancestors of the whales walked on land.