Meaningful films

January 25, 2012

Dear Students.  Just to get used to this blog and to get to know each other a bit, please write a little about what you would consider the most meaningful or moving film you’ve seen.  Like me, some of you may have a lot to choose from. So, you can either mention several or narrow it down to a few.  Let me give you an example.  In 2010, I saw the film Of Gods and Men, based on the true story of a group of monks living in Algeria in the midst of a civil war.  They purposefully decide to stay so they can continue working in the community amongst the people they love.  They are an important part of the community in terms of counseling people, doing communal gardening, celebrating important events in people’s lives, and providing worship services.  They go about their daily rituals, and they refuse to take sides in the war.  They speak out against both the rebels and the army, which then decides to stop protecting them.  At the end, most are marched off by a rebel group and they were eventually executed.  One escaped by hiding under his bed.  The story came from him.  It’s a beautiful film of courage, faith, and commitment and responding to violence with peace and love.  That’s why I found it so relevant and moving.



  1. One of the most moving films I have seen in the last few years that sticks out to me is Freedom Writers. The movie is about a teacher who starts teaching at an inner city school where white is the minority. The class she teaches is for students who struggle with English (the class, not the language). She has been given little funding and told to just give up on the students because they are never going to succeed in life. Even though she is told by the school board and by members of the community, even her own husband, that these students are a waste of time, she still gives her best effort to help these kids and get them on the right track. She gives a lot of her time and even her own funds to give these students an opportunity that no one else would. I think the reason this resonated with me so much is because it was based on a true story. At the end of the movie, they showed a picture of the real class that the characters of the students and teacher were based on. It was amazing to me that someone would invest that much of their time and energy into kids they don’t know, just to see them succeed. Since I am in the major of English Education myself, it was a movie that really sat with me and was also inspirational for me in my own journey to become a teacher and help the same type of struggling students.

  2. Hello, I am Tara Brodish. I would have to say that one of the most meaningful movies to me is Mr. Holland’s Opus. Even before I chose to study Education, Mr.Holland’s transformation from a musician to a music educator was a magical experience to witness. Besides the educational aspect the movie offers, the way the film’s plot and storyline follows through time periods that not only show what was happening in America historically, but also musically adds layers of meaning to the film as a whole, or at least to me! The eras and movements in American history and culture is something that I cannot physically experience, so it adds to the film’s uniqueness. The characters are very real and as a viewer, I feel compassion for every single one. As I continue to replay this movie for friends or family to share its creative qualities, I find even more ways to enjoy it myself.

  3. recently i viewed several movies which i felt were notable in this discussion. First, i viewed the Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. This movie tastefully combined the journey of a man in a post apocalyptic world and the story of religion. Throughout the movie we see reoccurring themes of the importance of a belief system and how they are abused. This movie was able to portray a positive view of religions without necessarily shoving it in your face as, i feel, is done all to often. Do to the tactful and complex nature of the movie, i would give the production a solid A on a normal grading scale. The second movie i viewed was the new “the girl with the dragon tattoo.” Pulled along to the movies by my girlfriend a really had no idea what to expect. There are two very brutal rape scenes in the movie which, to me, were repulsive. Aside from this i did enjoy the actual story and the complex structure of the plot. While there was a main story, the movie was filled with plenty of subplots as the characters learned more about their own personal identities by moving toward solving the crime. Not usually big on the crime/mystery genre but i would give this movie a B over all.

  4. I watched the film ‘Snowtown’ around a month ago and found it to be powerfully disturbing. The movie is based on the true story of one of Australia’s worst serial killers, but the scariest thing about the film is not the violence or the murders. The most disquieting aspect of the film is watching the protagonist (a boy of sixteen or thereabouts) slowly manipulated by the murderer. You watch uncomfortably as he gains the boys trust and friendship. It moves at a steady pace but remains engaging and eerie all throughout, very creepy.

  5. A film that will always be held in high esteem for me is Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. I remember when it came out there was so much buzz about it. There were good and bad views on it because it showed such a realistic portrayal of the crucifixion of Christ. I feel like there is no other film made that shows such an accurate dipiction of the pain suffered. Mel Gibson’s purpose of the movie was to show the passion of Christ, His love for the world to lay down his life and go through such gruesome torture and that is exactly what Gibson did. There were criticisms about the gore and how the focus was so much on bloody torture, but that was exactly what the focus was supposed to be, so that those graphic scenes would become real to the watcher and so that the audience would grasp the true passion it took in order to suffer in that horrible way. The movie is so unique in the way that it is completely in subtitles which one would think would make the movie harder to follow but on the contrary I felt that the subtitles added to the seriousness and drama of the film and it flowed so easily. I cry everytime I see the film although I don’t watch it often because it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to watch, but thats the whole point!

  6. The concept of comedy and humor is something that I developed a deep admiration for at a young age. I would watch VHS copies of “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Mask” until I knew most of the dialogue. These films even led me to start performing improvisational comedy on a weekly basis, which I still do. However, around the age of 17, I started becoming more aware of the world I live in. The more I learned about politics, science and the numerous conflicts that our species engages in, the more I turned to films that reflect society, or act out hypothetical slippery slopes where danger is clear and present. In short, the most meaningful films, to me, are the ones that present high stakes.

    Arguably, it started with “Children of Men”. If memory serves, “Children” takes place in London, 2027. No child has been born in more than 18 years. An ex-political activist is charged with the lofty task of escorting a pregnant woman to an enclave of scientists who may be able to repopulate the world. While this scenario seems outrageous, the way in which the British government and citizens responded is anything but. Depression runs rampant as society as a whole ages. Cosmetic surgery is encouraged, and the government openly issues suicide kits for those who cannot stand the harsh reality. It is easy to assume that we in 2012 would condemn this, but I also think that the comforts we’re familiar with prevent us from relating to that situation.

    Along those same lines is “V for Vendetta”, that shows largely the same conditions. “V” is actually an adaptation of a graphic novel written by Alan Moore, who said in an interview that, “… Stories of dystopian futures (works of sci-fi) do not show what will be, but what’s going on in the world today.” Wars over trivial resources engulf the globe. Immigration is discouraged, as is ethnic diversity. And the government engaged in conspiracies until the population swapped off their rights for security. I agree with Moore’s statement, which is why I also feel that films of this nature are the most meaningful: The are more than works of art, they are watchdogs in their own right.

  7. I think the most moving film I saw was Boy in The Striped Pajamas and that was two years ago. I have seen a lot of moving movies but this story really made me think about it and kept me up the night after I watched it. It is about the holocaust and a German boy who was the son of a Nazi who lived on the other side of a death camp and became best friends with a Jewish boy at the camp. The thing that made it so emotional was the use of the two little boys dying at the end. It showed the horror of the holocaust and how adults should have been acting like children in the way they love despite prejudices and are able to be incredibly brave. The innocence and the friendship of the boys made this movie haunting. I think that the movie was very thought provoking and it would make anyone cry. I thought that it showed the way people can look past horror which is right outside of their window and ignore the consequences of their actions. This idea is very prevalent today because there are still hate crimes and horrors going on in the world and I think everyone could learn to be kinder and just care about things beyond themselves and what is familiar.

  8. Hi, this is Brittany Madera. It seems that most of the movies that I love were books that I loved first, so it doesn’t seem fair to mention films such as A Clockwork Orange or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Some of the non-book films that have always “stuck with me” are Schindler’s List and American History X. I also think Forrest Gump is particularly meaningful in a strange way.

    Although I know not all meaningful films have to deal with death and prejudice, I think that Schindler’s List and American History X are relevant both in today’s world and while looking at the past. It might sound disingenuous coming from a little white girl, but I think that these shed light on racism in an understandable yet moving manner. Absolutely everyone needs to see both films at least once. What really sets them apart, maybe, is the absolute “human-ness” of the characters. They’re not just preachy films about racism. They are films about the human situation, including racism.

    Forrest Gump, however, deals with many difficult topics in a way that not many other films could. I admire how skillfully it was pulled off, and I think it’s both an enjoyable and meaningful film. I remember it being one of the first “real films” that I saw, probably when I was around nine or ten. I’m sure most of it went above my head at the time, but I remember being amazed especially at the Vietnam War parts. I don’t think that I knew it was a real part of history until then. I still watch it almost every time it runs on TV.

  9. One of the most moving films that I’ve seen is a movie that features two of my favorite actors, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. No it’s not The Titanic, the film is actually called Revolutionary Road. It was directed by Winslet’s then-husband Sam Mendes, (who directed another one of my favorites, American Beauty) and it’s about a couple who falls wildly in love and makes plans to move to Paris where they will live fast and free.

    Instead they find themselves married with children, living a dull life in Suburbia. After years of this boring life, the wife convinces the husband that even with two kids they can still make those Parisian dreams comes true. They live off of this high for a minute, but the realization that they are parents with one on the way hits the husband and he decides that the best thing to do is to stay put in his boring job, in his lackluster life, with his wife who is slowly slipping from him. Pregnant and desparate for change, the wife’s journe is moving and poignant, and without giving away the eending, the story is just heartbreaking. This set in the 50’s film is inspirational to me because it tells me to follow my dreams and not lose myself in complacency. The acting in this film is wonderful-Leo and Kate always do a great job together-and I recommend it to everyone.

  10. Although I’m not totally consumed by animated films, there is one animated film that has made it to my favorite list. The film, Up, made me cry, laugh, and cheer for a lonely, old man who embarks on perhaps the greatest journey of his life. In 2009, I took my 4-year old cousin to see Up. There is a part in the movie in which the film shows the love evolving between Carl and Ellie Fredricksen. The montage of events between the two takes place without any dialogue (there is simply background music heard). During this part of the film, I had tears streaming down my face! Disney was able to capture that special feeling of love without any dialogue! I found myself also cheering on the old man as he lifted his house into the air with hundreds of balloons. On his way to Paradise Falls, the old man is accompanied by a Wilderness Explorer, Russell, who is determined to earn his Assisting the Elderly Badge. The journey these two characters experience just goes to show that a strong friendship can be developed, regardless of the difference in age. This film encompasses themes of love, friendship, duties, and personal goals. I believe this film made a lasting impression on me because I was able to experience it with my 4-year old cousin. Although I’m much older than her, I was able to fall in love with the film just as she did. This animated film will always be one of my favorites because it inspires me to seek adventure and to take chances on things I ordinarily would dismiss. Adventure is out there!

  11. The most moving film I have seen recently would have to be Warrior. The movie is a very inspirational story of the underdog who comes out on top. It follows a school teacher who is being threatened with foreclosure by the bank and he doesn’t have the money so he turns back to the world of MMA fighting. What he doesn’t know is that his younger brother who he hasn’t talked to in years is also fighting for the money. This story about a dysfunctional family really hits the nail on the head for an emotional movie. I am notorious for having a poker face while watching movies but by the end of this one I even had a tear in my eye. I would gladly watch it again and found it genuinely inspiring.

  12. Hello, This is Hannah Garrett. I think that one of my favorite moving films is Fried Green Tomatoes, although I cry in anything slightly emotional. Fried Green Tomatoes takes place in the deep south and is about a middle aged woman (Kathy Bates) who is bored with her life and befriends an older woman in a nursing home. Every time Kathy Bates visits the old woman she hears more of her life story and the people she grew up with. It’s a really wonderful movie about friendship, love and loss. I also found Gone With The Wind, incredibly moving. I cried for four days after I saw it!

  13. Hello, I am Hala Ben Salamh. One of my favorite movies is Shutter Island. I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers. I find something intriguing about not knowing what I’m watching. One of my favorite things to do is filling in the gaps when I’m watching such movies. Even though there was one or two sad scenes, it didn’t stop me from crying throughout the movie. The ending, I think, is the best ending of a movie I’ve ever seen. There’s a quote Leonardo DiCaprio’s character said at the end that makes me rewatch the movie again. “Which would be worse – to live as a monster? Or to die as a good man?” I recommend this movie to everyone. You cannot watch the movie without really thinking about what you’re watching. The first time I watched it, I didn’t like it. But because the ending was so unpredictable, I had to rewatch it to what other hints that are in the movie that hinted to the ending. It’s only interesting to see a movie and not knowing who’s the bad guy.

  14. Though it is an animated film, “Howl’s Moving Castle” is one of the first movies that comes to mind when I think about ones that have moved me. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones, the film takes place during a war, and focuses on the life of a young girl named Sophie. The Witch of the Waste places a curse on her, turning her into a 90-year-old woman. Sophie learns to embrace the curse, and befriends the wizard Howl, the daemon Calcifer, and Howl’s apprentice, Merkyl. The movie makes me laugh, cry, and really think about life. It’s more than a love story; “Howl’s Moving Castle” is about the struggle between “good” and “evil”, issues in real societies, and journeys of self-discovery.

  15. I think one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen was The Last Picture Show. Admittedly, it has been years since I’ve last seen it, so my memory of it is a little hazy. From what I remember, it takes place in a small southern town in the 50’s. The world caught on film is fairly in-depth and we get a sense of how the characters relate to one another very easily. There are also some camera techniques I’ve noted such as slowly zooming in during a story or gradually zooming out as the same story ‘fizzles’ to an un-fulfilling conclusion. There is high school drama throughout the story, but it managed to get my attention because of how these characters work and how their small town, teenage mindset works as they lie and cheat with one another to fit in the norm. As I remember it, towards the end a character is about to move on with his life and get away from that town, then comes to an unsettling conclusion. Most importantly, the characters feel very real and believable, and they carry the weight of the story. As I said, it has been ages since I’ve seen it, and thinking about it makes me want to watch it again.

  16. Hey everyone. I’m Leah Rudolchick. I think the most moving movie i saw recently is a pretty decent toss up between “The Book of Eli”, “The Hurt Locker”,and “There Will Be Blood”. I also realllly enjoyed “the Ides of March” and “Water for Elephants”. All of these movies were moving to me mostly because of the actors abilities to capture their characters.
    “There Will be Blood” is about a a man’s rise to power and the deep seeded greed he has. His primary business is in oil drilling, and when he learns of the cheap land in California, he moves to California so he may expand his business. His greed and need to see everyone around him fail eventually leads to his complete alienation.
    “The Ides of March” was a captivating movie that i feel left many of my questions unanswered. I like and dislike that about this movie. It does bring to surface the many discrepancies and scandals that exist within the political arena.

  17. One of the most moving movies that I saw recently is “The Kite Runner.” I originally read the book so decided to watch the film once I finished it. The story was about a man who left Afghanistan after the Taliban began to take over. The main character moves to California and gets married. When conditions get worse in Afghanistan, he finds out that his deceased friend’s son has been taken. The man sees it as his responsibility to go and find his friends son. The film shows the man’s life as a child in Afghanistan before the Taliban began to rise, then after. The viewers of the film are able to see how difficult the people’s lives are in the country. There is also a sense of watching another culture we don’t fully understand begin to unfold. This allows the viewer to see how similar we are to citizens in Afghanistan, which is a country we have such a difficult and complicated relationship with. I liked that I read the book first so I knew what was going to happen. Putting the visual aspect together with the written words gave me a better understand about the struggles the characters went through. The film also showed how immigrants from Afghanistan are in the United States and the customs that they keep with them. This is a good film to show different people how other cultures work and puts our problems into prospective with others.

  18. One of the most moving films that I’ve seen was Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro. The movie is about Ofelia, a girl in love with fairy tales, who goes to live on a farm in post civil war Spain with her mother and her new step-father, Captain Vidal. Vidal is a violent, cruel man who cares little for Ofelia or her mother, but instead cares about the unborn child Ofelia’s mother carries. The captain’s son.
    Ofelia finds herself in the middle of a tragic fairy tale when she meets the faun, Pan, in a labyrinth on the outer reaches of the farm. Pan tells her she is the lost princess Moanna, and that she must complete three tasks to return to her kingdom.
    The story is very complex, as we not only see Ofelia’s story, but also how it intertwines with those of the people around her. The housemaid Mercedes, whose brother is fighting against Vidal in the rebel army, and the doctor who works both for Vidal and takes supplies to the rebels. There are many sides working throughout the movie, and the storyline moves between fantasy and reality seamlessly.
    What I love most about the movie is that it captures childhood innocence, but also portrays the evils of men, especially those engaged in war. Ofelia is always hopeful, and faces her trials despite her fears. Near the climax of the movie, she even goes so far as to stand up to the Captain himself, a bold move for a twelve-year-old girl.
    Without revealing too much, I would have to say the most moving part of the movie is toward the end, when Ofelia demonstrates just how much she loves her baby brother, despite the short time of knowing him, and in doing so, proves she is the true lost Princess of the underworld kingdom.

  19. Hello all, I’m Matt Pangman. I’d have to say that most of my favorite movies come from these two directors: Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino. They’re styles are both unique and one of a kind in their own ways. A film that comes to mind as a forever favorite of mine would have to be “The Royal Tenenbaums”, which is a Wes Anderson film. This is a great story of three child prodigies that grow up with nothing to show for. Somewhere along the line they lost themselves and they’re once apparent love of the world. They all end up moving back in to their childhood home, with their mother trying to discover their purposes. The film follows classic Anderson cinematography styles, along with his use of primary colors, which makes for an always great visual experience. It has an incredible cast as well. I’d recommend seeing this film!

  20. My choices the most moving films I have seen recently will probably make you roll your eyes. So, first a tiny bit of background:
    I have the unfortunate tendency to fall in love with my best friend. This has happened 3 times and it is always terrible.
    So, my choices for the most moving films would be When Harry Met Sally and He’s Just Not That Into You. I know, they are both chick flicks, but they also explore bigger themes than just, “How do we get these two characters together?”
    When Harry Met Sally is about whether or not men and women can be friends. The movie concludes that most of the time, no, they cannot. Even if this is not true of everyone, it has been true in my life and I think the movie makes a compelling argument for it.
    He’s Just Not That Into You helped me get out of one of those “in ove with my best friend” situations. There’s nothing worse than hearing the difficult truth, but there it is. It is a shockingly honest movie based on a terrifyingly honest book. I think every woman in the world should have to read the book and see the movie. The best part is that the message is: If he’s doing these things, he doesn’t like you. If he doesn’t like you, go find someone who does because you are awesome.
    These movies have changed my perception of the world and they are the first thing I go to when my heart is breaking.

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