Sometimes, a good film can put you deep in thought. This might be about life, about societal issues such as discrimination against LGBTQ+, class, war or about the plot of the film or the ending – perhaps it just didn’t make sense . For day 13 of The Courier: 30 days of film, our writers give us a taste of the films that put them in deep thought.
The Imitation Game (2014)
A film that puts me deep into my thoughts is definitely The Imitation Game. Frankly, it makes me sad for humanity. Its a brilliant film bringing awareness to someone who was LGBTQ+ and genuinely helped in the war effort, and arguably created the world’s first computer in the process. However, the treatment that Turing was subjected to because of his sexuality just sends me into a spiral of sadness, and disappointment that the world can be so cruel.
The film has had criticism for undermining Turing’s sexuality and the impact it had on his life, but ultimately the film is really successful in hammering in its message and his legacy at the end, crushing your heart in the process. Literally, my mum and I were sobbing in the cinema, and my mum still brings up about how sad the film made her. Even if the depictions of homosexuality are belittled in the film, the reality of homophobia and discrimination echo through history. I think this film did an amazing job of bringing Turing’s story to a wider audience and finally giving him the credit that was due. If you aren’t aware, Turing was criminally indicted for his homosexuality, a criminal act in the UK until 1967 (but even then that was only legal for men, and only for those over the age of 21). He was chemically castrated, which is truly, truly horrendous. It makes me sick that this still happens within many places worldwide, and just makes me consider how far we have left with the plight for equality.
Ultimately, this film makes me consider the progress we as a society have made, but ultimately there is still so much work that needs to be done. It’s horrendous that we have lost so many good lives because of the hands of discrimination, and I only wish for a better future. We can’t erase the past, but our actions can change the future for so many.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
This film is beautiful. It’s beautiful visually and the story is fresh and original. It had a big impact on me and I did feel that by the time I finished it I was meditative. Seeing anything from the eyes of a child as in this film makes you think about a new perspective on the world. This film took that to a new level by presenting the mystical yet very real ‘bathtub’ islands that 6 year old Hushpuppy calls home, using her thoughts to paint a blank canvas to show her home. There was nothing hushed about Quvenzhané Wallis’ performance though making her one of the youngest ever Oscar nominees. I was transfixed by the way this film made me think about the other lives that people lead and the way I lead my life. Set on the edge of our planet this film made me want to travel and think about how much more there is out there while also bringing me closer to home.
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling”
To me, if a film makes you think deeply about its subject topic or about life in general, it’s definitely been successful in its job and deserves all the praise. One film that did this for me particularly is Inception. This is a film about a man trying to free himself from a near-suffocating past and at its complex, it is a masterpiece. It combines thought-provoking, layered story-telling, beautiful and amazing aesthetics, sound effects and score. It also has the PERFECT cast with the brilliant directorial hand of Christopher Nolan. It is a brilliant and unrivalled piece of film-making in my opinion and it never fails to leave me in deep thought.
Inception makes you think how sometimes, we just prefer to be happy in our dreams rather than see things for how they really are and confront them. It tells the story of how truth hurts. It’s a film that makes you think about love and loss at its finest. Inception leaves you not knowing what to think anymore, making you ponder about how life should be spent. When I finished watching this film, I felt the desire to trudge into the deep labyrinths of my mind to unearth the secrets needed to solve the trauma that plagues me. My mind feels fragile when watching this film and no matter what, you will never outgrow this movie as it is still as powerful and thought-provoking 10 years on.
Shutter Island (2010)
I remember the first time I watched this film I sat starring at the screen for a good 15 minutes after it had ended, trying to figure out what had just happened. It’s a film I wish I could unwatch, just so that I don’t know what’s going to happen and I get to watch the plot twist without any knowledge of it. This is a film that puts you in deep thought every time you watch it, trying to wrap your head around all elements of the film, and each time you watch it you notice something new.
Shutter Island is a thriller mystery starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Kingsley – so already it’s a great cast. The film follows Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, two US marshals, who are sent to a remote island where a mental asylum is housed. The two are sent to investigate the disappearance of a female patient until Teddy uncovers a shocking truth himself and the asylum.
The film is one I’ve recommended to so many people, and until you get to the very end it can have you sat there with a lot of questions, then once the film is over you have to sit and process the whole 2 hour and 19 minutes to try and wrap your head around the film and what happened.
I’m not a particularly thought-filled person. I’ll have maybe one good thought a week. Safe to say not much going on between my ears. But then I watched Parasite and quickly fell down the rabbit hole that is the Bong Joon-Ho filmography. All his work, that I’ve seen so far, has been thought-provoking to me from Snowpiercer to The Host with how they look at social class, and other interesting topics. Then I took to Netflix to watch one of his more recent films: Okja. And now I can’t seem to get it out my mind.
Following a genetically engineered “super pig” the film takes a deep dive into the harsh reality of the meat industry and animal abuse. Certain scenes are really difficult to watch, especially as they mirror the real world all too much. The film put a fresh perspective on animal activism and veganism for me in a way I haven’t put too much thought into. Watching Okja is probably the closest I’ve been to trying to be vegan and when I try going meat-free, eventually, Okja is definitely going to be one the driving factors in that decision.
Also, Jake Gyllenhaal’s moustache in the film is fantastic and has put me in deep thought about trying for one as well.
20th Century Women (2016)
What I like about this film is that it retains a humour and lightness despite its clear emotional gravity; half the time you’re gazing adoringly at Greta Gerwig’s pink hair, and the other half you’re crying about how everyone is eventually going to die.
20th Century Women takes the feeling of those very deep thoughts about life you get while staring out of the bus window, and stretches it out across a slow (but never boring) exploration of age, family, and love. The soothing pace means that the thoughtfulness never really dips, and the poetic narration, like reading out of a diary, allows us a more personal insight than could be achieved purely through dialogue. This doesn’t stop the unexpectedly lovely reflections spoken between characters in their bedrooms or around the kitchen table suddenly leaving you with tears in your eyes, though.
An existential crisis, but this film holds your hand through it.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
I don’t get it.
I literally do not understand this film at all so I’m not even going to try and explain it to you.
Mulholland Drive was my first post-Twin Peaks watch. After falling in love with the most bizarre worlds I’d ever seen on-screen, I went onto amazon and got the most Lynchian box set I could find: The Elephant Man, Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive. It’s unsettling, erotic, strange and somehow funny all at the same time. Despite the fact it doesn’t make much sense, it’s pretty beautiful to watch unfold, and whilst a 150 minute run time would normally make me yawn, Lynch holds your attention and doesn’t let you go.
Perhaps I didn’t quite think buying a Mulholland Drive tshirt through, given people will see it and ask me what the film is about… but that’s the beauty of it. I spent months after watching it just trying to organise my thoughts on what actually happened, and years later I can happily say I’ve gotten nowhere. This film isn’t supposed to make sense – it’ll make you think for sure, but narratively? Don’t expect logic. This is a man who sat on the road opposite Hollywood Boulevard with a cow and massive print out of Laura Dern that read “for your consideration” for goodness sake. Take from that fact what you will – but Mulholland Drive is still a masterpiece.
Although if you haven’t seen this, please don’t put yourself through Inland Empire. Please. It’s for your own good.
The Truman Show (1998)
Not only does The Truman Show deliver on Jim Carrey at his best, but it provide an optimistic reflection on human nature, examining our relationship to technology and existence itself.
Even if taken at its most literal, this film provides an interesting critique of the reality show model, which puts an individual’s daily life at the center of entertainment. This superficial reading has become far more relevant to us today, than it would have been to people in 1998. The rise of social media, used as a window into our lives, mirrors Truman’s lost privacy due to the technological development the show has seen. Of course, much like content seen on social media, everything Truman is shown to do is heavily produced, with his interactions being shaped by product placement and TV ratings.
Yet the brilliance of this film lies in how it touches on universal themes of human existence. The most important of these is the philosophical idea of solipsism, posing one’s mind is the only thing sure to exist. More simply put, the world exists because I perceive it. Truman’s life puts this theory in practical terms: his world, his friends, even the people he does not interact with, are only there because of him. Everyone he has ever seen was there because of him. I admire this film because of its optimistic outlook on human nature. Truman’s dialogue with his “creator”, which leads to an ultimate rejection of his omnipotence, puts the individual at the centre of their existence. No matter how oppressive the forces that control us might be, from consumerism to more spiritual ideas of purpose, ultimately we are in charge. It harkens back to Plato’s allegory of the cave: humans’ whose lives were spent observing shadows on the wall of a cave will ridicule and reject those enlightened by the reality outside the cave. However, while Plato believed that regular people would not want to betray their reality in search of the truth, Truman decides to leave the world he knew, indicating that humans are by nature attracted to authenticity.
Last modified: 28th April 2020