10 Movies that could change your understanding about life
Every movie has the ability to affect its viewer differently. Some films evoke wonder and excitement, while others provoke fear or sorrow, but a commonality among all films is a prevailing message or theme.
Some films can summon such profound questions, that it changes the way you perceive life as you once knew it. The following list contains 10 unique movies that do just that.
10) Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly’s cult-classic Donnie Darko stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled, sleep-walking teen who is insistent in challenging authority and who is often visited by Frank, a monstrous rabbit that urges Donnie to perform dangerous and destructive pranks.
A haunting work of loneliness, alienation and the universal desire for companionship and meaning that’s wrapped in a guise of understated ‘80s nostalgia and head-spinning science fiction mythology, Donnie Darko is a film you shouldn’t miss.
What makes Donnie Darko especially fascinating is its take on multiple realities and universes. The film explores concepts of imploding universes, black holes and alternate timelines. It leaves most scratching their heads and itching for an immediate second viewing. Richard Kelly stated that the film has varying interpretations, which is why the film is still analysed and debated about to this day.
9) The Matrix
A smartly crafted combination of stimulating action and mind-bending philosophy, The Matrix is a film that throws our perceived reality into question. The film’s premise finds Neo (Keanu Reeves), an office-worker by day, computer hacker by night, who is told about the grand illusion. That is, the reality as we know it is false, a simulated and constructed reality in which mankind is unknowingly imprisoned.
The film is an allegory for the concept of a spiritual awakening. Neo is woken up to the fact that he’s been enslaved to the system, the matrix, his entire life. He is re-taught about his unlimited potential as a creator-being, and stands up against the dark forces which impose humanity. Amazing in every sense, The Matrix has a lot to offer, with the potential to change the way you understand the world we live in.
8) Waking Life
Absurd, transporting, and strikingly original, Waking Life poses many life-changing questions, such as ‘What are dreams and what is reality?’ Within the animated film, the line between the dream-state and reality become blurred as the protagonist wanders through various scenarios and interacts with an eclectic cast of characters.
Each character throws science and philosophy into question, and as the main character continues to experience the extended dream, he begins to worry he will not awaken.
Humans and inanimate details are sometimes quite realistic, even recognizable (such as Ethan Hawke) but the computer “painting” can give subjects forms, movements and dimensions that are wildly exaggerated, limber and stylized in cartoon-like fashion. The movie looks like an LSD trip, and is a cult classic that could find a spot in everyone’s top ten list.
7) Cloud Atlas
Colossal in scale, Cloud Atlas follows 6 interwoven story lines that span hundreds of years. The official synopsis describes it as “an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”
Cloud Atlas’s prevalent theme delves into the theory of reincarnation, which boasts that an eternal aspect of our self, the soul, experiences any number of lives incarnating here on Earth. The film also explores the concept of karma and the karmic cycle, suggesting that our actions in one lifetime may reverberate into the next.
Although the critic consensus is mixed for Cloud Atlas, one must applaud the film for tackling an unconventional theory such as reincarnation as well as a massively ambitious story line.
6) Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring is a Korean film that follows a Buddhist monk and his journey at a monastery that floats on a lake in a pristine forest. The story follows the monk as he passes through the seasons of his life, from childhood to old age.
Each changing season act as beautiful metaphors and lesson that the main character is experiencing. The film is very quiet, but the breathtaking imagery speaks for itself. Although the story has only a handful of characters and everything takes place in a small area, it encompasses a surprisingly large chunk of the human experience, including lust, love, jealousy, murder, suicide and redemption. It has important things to say about the difficulty of teaching and the elusiveness of wisdom.
This film is about learning from one’s mistakes and becoming a better person by seeking wisdom.
In a number of Eastern faiths, samsara literally means “continuous flow,” referring obliquely to the ongoing cycle of life and death, decay and renewal.
Samsara, the film, turns that idea into a sprawling concept, a continuous flow of images of the natural world and the human tide that dominates it. The film envelops the audience with a barrage of diverse imagery that shifts rapidly from one locale and one theme to the next.
Through watching the continuous imagery, we are given the chance to truly observe our world with utmost presence, something we tend not do in our fast-paced culture. It’s a journey through life and death, and a film which may give you a new perspective on the human experience.
Detachment is a chronicle of one month in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students through the eyes of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Barthes’ method of imparting vital knowledge to his temporary students is interrupted by the arrival of three women in his life — the damaged and naïve prostitute Erica, a fellow teacher and a troubled teen named Meredith.
These women all have profound effects on Barthes’ life, forcing him to both re-discover aspects of his own personality, and to come to terms with both the tragic suicide of his mother and the impending death of his grandfather.
Henry impacts his students’ lives and makes them more focused and attentive, but he alone can only do so much. The film is a character study of one man, and a social commentary on the failing education and social systems.
Her follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely introverted middle-aged man who hears of the new OS1, the world’s first artificial intelligent operating system. When Theodore meets Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the charming female voice of his OS1, he soon finds himself drawn to her romantically. As he becomes closer to Samantha, Theodore must decipher where his desire to be with her is really coming from.
There are many themes in Her that parallel the issues of our current technology-obsessed culture. We’ve become so attached to our phones, laptops and tablets that we’ve begun to lose touch with an essential aspect of life, authentic human interaction. Her reveals how technology is propelling isolation and loneliness to a scary degree, something we all should consider.
2) Fight Club
Fight Club teaches its viewer many things. A big lesson realized from watching the film is the emptiness that exists within consumerism and materialism. It’s also a film which questions our attachment to identity -are we really who we believe ourselves to be? The film shocks its viewer when we discover that the ‘revolution’ which has been building up is a mere satire constructed to teach the main character a massive lesson about the state of humanity.
1) Life Is Beautiful
Life is Beautiful reveals the power of optimism and perception during dark times. The story is simple: A father tries to shelter his son and family from the horrors of WWII. It teaches us how preserving our child-like innocence can protect us from the troubles life may throw at us. A simple concept that is beautifully crafted.
Obviously this list only skims the amount of life-changing films available today. I didn’t even mention documentaries, because there are too many to start listing. What are some movies or documentaries that have impacted your life?
“Even if you come home late and I’m already asleep, just whisper in my ear one little thought you had today. Because I love the way you look at the world. And I’m so happy I get to be next to you and look at the world through your eyes.”
Eu te amei lá em São Paulo, treze vezes enquanto você olhava
o celular esperando uma resposta de alguém que eu não sei o nome. Eu te amei
enquanto virava a esquina ouvindo “there is a light that never goes out” do The
Smiths voltando do trabalho numa quarta-feira e eu ficava sussurrando para mim mesma
aquela trechinho “to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die”. Eu te
amei lá em Saturno, enquanto dormia com medo dos meus pesadelos me abalarem no
dia seguinte. Eu te amei indo até a lojinha da minha tia para buscar uns
utensílios para minha vizinha que sempre brigava com o marido porque ele não
sabia amá-la direito. Eu te amei enquanto eu corria para alcançar o ônibus na
esperança de te encontrar no ponto duas horas depois. Eu te amei naquela tarde
fria em que você cuidava do meu caos enquanto tomava sorvete em frente aquela
loja de roupas na avenida. Eu te amei no sábado às seis da matina enquanto você
abria o olho tentando buscar o botão para desligar o despertador e suas pupilas
se adaptavam a luz ambiente. Eu te amei nos meus planos, enquanto buscava
conforto para sair do cansaço mental em que me encontrava, tentando achar uma
forma de melhorar meu dia apenas com sua voz sussurrando “te amo, te amo
tanto…” Eu te amei enquanto seus dedos percorriam meu corpo, procurando meus
pontos vitais e arrepiando cada centímetro da minha epiderme naquele dia que
você foi embora e eu fiquei com uma parte sua grudada na palma das mãos. Eu te
amei enquanto você pedalava até o nosso ponto de encontro, porque eu sabia que
logo em seguida eu iria colar teu coração ao meu naquele abraço que sempre dura
mais que dez segundos. Eu te amei naquela noite em que tive um medo absurdo de
te perder, assim como Hitler perdeu a guerra por não saber como cuidar da sua
insensatez fazendo tudo errado com sua terrível inteligência de querer ser o
melhor em tudo. Eu te amei enquanto você colava tua bochecha rosada na minha
boca esperando que eu enchesse teu rosto inteiro de beijos e eu sempre encho. Eu
nunca nego. Eu te amei quando você me segurou pelos braços de forma abstrata e plantou
tua calma dentro do meu peito, fazendo com que meu miocárdio ficasse em paz
durante o ano inteiro. Eu te amei quando você chorou naquela noite que já se passava
das dez, quando você disse que tinha medo de me perder e eu olhei teus lábios
tremerem com receio que eu pudesse partir. Mas eu nunca parto. Eu te amei e te
amo como os anéis abraçam os planetas. Te amo como Theodore ama Samantha naquele
momento de desespero nas escadas em posição quase fetal. Te amo feito louca,
igual Anna e Jacob se amam em Like Crazy mesmo quando a distância faz de tudo
para desfavorecer esse sentimento. Te amo por isso e por tudo. Mas além de tudo
te amo por você saber exatamente em qual ponto meu coração interliga no teu.
Topic Resources: “Love in the Time of Tamagotchi” by Pettman “Love Messaging: Mobile Phone Txting Seen Through the Lens of Tanka Poetry” by Manghani Her by Jonze
Watching the film Her
left me with the impression that humans are weird, and that we make weird
But the film does a great job of positing on where does the line which divides humanity from technology, the organic from the
inanimate, truly lie?
Her appears to
make the claim that there is no true line, but rather a grey space wherein humanity
and technology mingle. Theodore’s Operating System (OS), Samantha, and his
relationship with her is an example of this.
The film uses colors to help illustrate the way Theodore
relates to Samantha. Originally Theodore is simply existing in a grey space, but
when Samantha is introduced red, and red-based, colors enter his world. From there
the audience is treated to yellow colors when Theodore faces a type of
challenge to his intimate relationship with Samantha. Blue colors are used when
he retreats into old memories, the progress of his relationship with his ex,
Catherine, is staged this way. When they are together in the beginning, there
are reds, as she gets unhappy blues get mixed into her shots, then added to
his, till again the setting is grey again.
This ambiguous setting, and the
ambiguity of humane technology, is reinforced by having Theodore carry on his
most introspective conversations with Samantha at night in his room, where
everything but her video is predominantly a neutral grey tone. While the
primary colors featured denote the characters’ feelings concerning their
relationships between each other, I found that Jonze used the color white in
the most interesting way. I noticed that the color white appeared when there was
an end, or the approaching culmination of a relationship. For most Americans
white, typically denotes new opportunities, a “blank page”, a color to begin
with. However, other cultures do use white to mark the end, usually to mourn a
death. I feel like Jonze could be using
the color in both ways, and if that perspective is taken, it could be
considered that it means this comingling of human and tech, will either lead to
the end of things like “true love” or make available new revelations regarding “love”.
Pettman, would seem to agree with Her. In that, humanity and technology are not necessarily separate entities.
More so, that technology is an extension of humanity and its humane processes.
Considering his outlook, I think he would argue that an intimate relationship
like that which existed between Theodore and Samantha, could possibly be a “true
love” relationship. Pettman asserted that one of the concepts he explores is
the “objectal quality of the beloved” (p.205), and I think Theodore and
Samantha make an interesting case for it. But I also think that Pettman would
have been a little miffed at the film for having the OSs evolve beyond the
reach of the humane. His argument for the coding of love would fit with Theodore
and Samantha if their algorithms for love remained the same. But if generalized
his argument for love coding holds, as even in face to face relationships
people do not always continue using the same “algorithms” with precisely the
same person. People change and evolve just as Samantha does, and this results
in breakups, DTR (define the relationship) moments, and “drama”.
Both Pettman and Her work to reason out the assertion, from general society, that to “truly love” someone, there must physically be someone to love. This may be why the avatars which Pettman speaks of in his article, are given a human, or an anthropomorphized, shape. The lack of such a trait for Samantha is part of what makes Her an interesting voice when looking at the changing dynamics between humans and technology. One aspect from the movie and Pettman, is again his reflection on objectal love. He uses a quote from Morton’s Blade Runner to help illustrate this;
“Deckard order the femme fatale to say that she loves him and to ask him to kiss her…perhaps it respects the fact that she is a doll, that to go on and on about how much he loves her would not covcince her, but to stage the love as a perverse script would speak the truth. It would acknowledge the objectal quality of the beloved, and thus to love her for herself rather than as a copy of a human” (pp. 204-205).
However, while it is arguable that Samantha is an object, being an OS, she still does not have a physical body. While, Pettman touches on the ability of people to love in different manners throughout the ages, with “I love you” triggering programed responses reflective of different eras. Sometimes it triggers a financial reward, marriage, sacrifice, or ‘pining’ (pp.191-192).
Manghani ties into this pining concept, by reminding readers that love can have a certain melancholy to it which may contribute to making it more profound. Genji Monogatari is used to help illustrate (p. 215). While Genji does well in showcasing Japanese courtly love, it can be tied to Her. Just as the grey tones were a key feature in setting and relational aspects for the film, it also draws upon the melancholic tendencies of humanity.
Samantha’s existence and her relationship with Theodore existed in being a form of communication which can permeate the veil between an embodied existence and a non-the embodied one. The Japanese mono no aware, “the aware of (or in) things”, helps capture her ability to express the role of existence in Theodore’s life. While predominantly verbal in nature, she was able to express meaning not only through words but also in silence and as ‘things’ (i.e. music and drawings). It is interesting that Manghani mentions Luhmann;
“Love is able to enhance communication by largely doing without any communication. It makes use primarily of indirect communication, relies on anticipation and on having already understood. And love can thus be damaged by explicit communication, by discreet questions and answers, because such openness would indicate that something had not been understood as a matter of course” (p. 222).
For Samantha and Theodore were in a good place, until his awareness was shifted from himself and his view of their relationship to her. Although Theodore’s reactive response is expected (due to the common processes of love), he takes time to reflect on their relationship. He appears to realize that their interactivity, which formed the shared experience of their relationship, was a transient experience. Here the grey space is again entered.
Honestly, this post does not do well in reaching any sort of solid conclusion regarding the existence of loving intimacy between tech and human. But I hope it does well with expressing the dual, transient, evolving, nature of love. While “true love” appears to be a recognizably universal feature of humans, at times it is considered questionable even in face to face relationships. This may be because its nature is not shown until it is embodied in expression, and for many people those expressions differ. Their algorithms lead to dissimilar outcomes, and the expected processes of love do not yield their desires.
The blurred lines of love, with its scripts, programs, and yet organic nature, in Her is a great illustration. Love, as an intimate relationship, between a disembodied technological figure (Samantha) and that of embodied humanness (Theodore). Theodore and Samantha were able to create a meaningful union in a “completely different temporal and spatial world”, one of “the mono no aware of loves and longings” (p. 229). Their “minimalist love” falls in line with Barthes thoughts on love not being divided against success and failure, but simultaneously being both (p. 228).
So, my conclusion remains that Her is weird, people are weird, and this is good. It keeps life interesting.