Ever since I learnt of the importance of art in life – be it words on a page or visuals on a screen, I made a decision to continuously indulge – indulge in immersing myself in all sorts of artistic production so as to attain a comprehensive understanding of things. While most people read books just for the thrill of it or watch movies for pure entertainment, I believe there is so much more than mere surface appearances. The ability to read between the lines – to understand what is not being overtly said is what I believe art is all about.
Now keeping all this in mind, I tend to make a to-do or rather, to-read or to-watch list of sorts. Focusing on the latter, I usually pick a film from a list of to-watch films and add it to my own never-ending list of films to watch before I die.
Thought Provoking movies you must watch
1. Freedom Writers (2007)
A film that left a lasting impression on me, the protagonist Erin Gruwell zealously and fearlessly teaches a class that is deeply divided by racial constructs and very openly harbour animosity against one another. However, after several failed attempts, Gruwell finally gets through to her class and while doing so, suffers personal loses.
2. To Sir, With Love (1967)
Another fabulous account fashioned on Edward Braithwaite’s novel by the same name (if you’re a reader, this novel makes for a beautiful read), this film too strikes a chord. An engineer turned professor, Mark Thackeray tries to unaffectedly deal with a group of rowdy students whilst implementing his own brand of discipline and like Gruwell, attempts to get through to them.
3. Coach Carter (2005)
An owner of a sports store accepts the job of basketball coach for a high school that he once represented and left, as a champion athlete. However, the attitude of his players leaves him terribly appalled and he takes it upon himself to improve things.
4. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Set in a school that believes in tradition, Professor John Keating sets his students free, encouraging them to break away – stand out as opposed to fitting in and unapologetically lead a life that appeals to them, without adhering to the status quo.
5. Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Similar to Keating’s method of instruction, Professor Watson, a non-conformist art teacher encourages her students to break away from tradition. A novice in an all-girls institution, she leads them to question society’s expectations of women and motivates them to move away from the stipulated, stereotypical roles that women are expected to play. Set in the 1950s, such behaviour was extremely revolutionary, especially for a woman (ideally meant to be meek and bashful) living in such conservative times.
A slight change from the pedagogic, the next two films keep with the theme of reform and revolution but this time, against a higher authority.
6. L.A Confidential (1997)
Fighting against corruption takes on a different turn when the fight is against one’s own department. Three cops from the Las Angeles Police Department investigate multiple homicides that lead them closer to the root cause – corruption in their own precinct. What and how they choose to deal with this information – this fight against a higher authority makes for a fantastic plot line that keeps you glued to the screen.
7. V for Vendetta (2005)
Set in Britain during the reign of a totalitarian Government, a revolutionary simply going by the name of V uses terrorist tactics as a means of bringing down the fascist Government. Donning the mask of Guy Fawkes (a prominent player in the Gunpowder Plot) and aided by an ordinary citizen, V rallies the public to fight against oppression.
Now although I usually stick to watching films in the English Language, the next two made me realise that foreign language films (with subtitles) are thought-provoking as well and dubbing these films creates a sort of ‘lost in translation’ effect – it takes away from the film more than anything else.
8. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
For those of you familiar with the life of the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, this film brings to light the literal path that led to Guevara’s re-making – from a doctor to a rebel.
9. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
Juan Jose Campanella’s film narrates a story of a retired legal counsellor who re-visits a case that changed his life hoping to be able to write a novel about it and find some closure. However, the closer he gets to it, the more real it becomes. Because he attempts to recall every minute of the case, he gets sucked into it all over again, leaving the viewer in a state of shock as the story unfolds.
Although completely different from what usually piques my interest, this next one goes unparalleled. Reiterating what is usually said about this film, if you don’t like it, you are beyond redemption.
10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
A banker is falsely accused and arrested for the murder of his wife and lover and goes on to become one of the most unconventional prisoners in the Shawshank prison.
After watching films the likes of the above, I’ve come to appreciate visuals more than I ever believed I would. There is so much to read into in a film that a single viewing is never enough. The more you watch, the more you understand and uncover.
The above is a list of personal favourites that changed my perspective on a lot. I hope it does for you what it did for me.