Philosophical Films

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Vojos
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Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » March 16th, 2012, 7:24 am

Hello there!

As far as i know there aren't any similar topics on this site regarding this subject.

I think it would be nice to have a thread where you could post different movies you have watched and enjoyed, that takes upon some specific philosophical subject(s).

I can begin with one example:

The Seventh Seal, by Ingmar Bergman;

Philosophical issues: Religious philosophy.

It's set in Sweden during the plague in the 14th century. It's about a knights search for answers regarding life and death and the existence of God, during a dark era in human history. It highlights some of religions shortcomings in a great way.

A lot of you have probably seen this film already, but if you would be so kind to post any films you find relevant from a philosophical point of view, and you believe is really worth seeing, that would be great!

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Grendel » March 16th, 2012, 10:23 am

An excellent topic choice, indeed.

A lot of philosophy films are based on highly philosophical books or plays, so there is the question do we regard them as films or not? To name but a few, Throne of Blood, Ran, Fight Club, 1984, Brave New World, Crime and Punishment and so on.

So are these ligitimate choices or are we looking at something written specifically as a film?

Written for film I would say, the Matrix, Vanilla Sky, Brasil, Twelve Monkeys, jubilee, Naked and many more.


EDIT: I'd forgot to add a second Derek Jarman film, Wittgenstein, pretty philosophical.

some great excerpts of Jubilee on youtube, makes me want to watch it again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlL0D5BF2Ok
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmidfMeK ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpgzXMZb ... re=related
Last edited by Grendel on March 16th, 2012, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Scott » March 16th, 2012, 10:56 am

Waking Life is by far the most philosophical movie, in my opinion.

All the many movies containing sophisticated AI are also very philosophical in my opinion -- The Matrix being my personal favorite.
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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » March 16th, 2012, 11:48 am

Grendel wrote:An excellent topic choice, indeed.

A lot of philosophy films are based on highly philosophical books or plays, so there is the question do we regard them as films or not? To name but a few, Throne of Blood, Ran, Fight Club, 1984, Brave New World, Crime and Punishment and so on.

So are these ligitimate choices or are we looking at something written specifically as a film?

Written for film I would say, the Matrix, Vanilla Sky, Brasil, Twelve Monkeys, jubilee, Naked and many more.
That doesn't really matter to me as long as it has some good philosophical content. So all of these are great suggestions in my mind, thanks!

Yeah, I agree, "The Matrix is a really good watch! Should probably see it again, since I was a bit young the first time I saw it, and was probably not able to grasp some of the more deeper content in it. However i love a particular quote from the movie that goes like this:

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."

As for the movie Waking Life, I have yet to see that one. But I have heard lots of it in different philosophical circumstances, so that's a film I'm planning to see, along with the film "The Man from Earth", which is just lying on my computer waiting.

I recently saw a movie named "Baraka", which i really enjoyed. It's non-narrative, and just uses pictures of human life in different settlements, and have some stunning shots of nature as well as big city life. I haven't seen anything like it, it's really original in the way it gets your mind working on philosophical topics like pantheism and deep ecology. I deeply recommend this one!

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Avi Love » March 16th, 2012, 12:05 pm

I actually tend to find a lot of philosophy in movies that might not normally be considered philosophical. For instance I'm a huge animation fan.

Pixar:

The Incredibles: Suburban life satirized through common stereotypes being represented in visuals. Elastigirl is the housewife who stretches. Violet is the insecure teenage girl who has force fields and invisibility. It also plays on human ideas of equality through exploring the strengths and flaws of superheroes. One of my favorite lines from the movie:
ELASTIGIRL: "Everyone's special, Dash."
DASH: "Which is another way of saying no one is."

Ratatouille: The common idea of fate via physiology and capabilities, and the ability to overcome that. The rat has a capacity for cooking and overcomes his physiology and background. The human cannot overcome his lack of cooking ability.

Finding Nemo: The idea that most of life is what happens on the way to a goal. Nearly every event in the movie is not character driven but coincidence.

Disney:

Beauty and the Beast: Continuity of the self, mind/body, and the capacity to change.

On other notes I really like Tim Burton where Big Fish represents the problem of story/narrative vs. reality and how we see the world.

These are hardly all of the movies I like, but in short I think there's philosophy in everything. I love The Matrix too, but I think it really becomes a matter of what stories strike a chord with you and present new ideas. You can always find philosophy if you look at it from the perspective of someone that it inspires. One of my favorite book series is Harry Potter for which I think the entire series is a massive exploration of human attitudes towards power and death. Another writer I talked with thinks the whole thing is about family. Also I think the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (not to get off of films here) is highly philosophical.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Paradox617 » March 16th, 2012, 1:42 pm

A great one is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jim Carey) great film that gets at the concepts of free will and fate, even the morality found in a procedure that allow patients to have bad memories erased.

Then there is Equilibrium (Christian Bale) another great film that talks about what the world would be like the government regulated our lives to the point where emotions were crimes and everyone takes injections to block them.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » March 28th, 2012, 8:59 am

You should check out Andrey Tarkovsky. Great Russian director that makes really interesting movies. Very artistic and with good philosophical content as well.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by A Poster He or I » April 11th, 2012, 12:46 pm

I recently saw a movie named "Baraka", which i really enjoyed. It's non-narrative, and just uses pictures of human life in different settlements, and have some stunning shots of nature as well as big city life. I haven't seen anything like it, it's really original in the way it gets your mind working on philosophical topics like pantheism and deep ecology. I deeply recommend this one!
I love Baraka. However it owes a great deal stylistically to the films of Godfrey Reggio such as Koyaanisqatsi. This makes sense because the man who made Baraka was the cinematographer for Koyaanisqatsi. If you responded to the cinematic style of Baraka, I highly recommend Koyaanisqatsi (although it is much more bleak than Baraka).
You should check out Andrey Tarkovsky. Great Russian director that makes really interesting movies. Very artistic and with good philosophical content as well.
Tarkovsky's "Stalker" is my favorite movie of all time, bar none. An utterly unique exploration of the human capacity for faith.

A couple of other philosophical film recommendations:

Steppenwolf, an inspired and faithful adaptation of the Hermann Hesse novel about creating meaning for life by balancing its Apollonian and Dyonisian elements.

Mindwalk, a discussion of the interconnectedness of everything inspired loosely by a famous pop science book, The Tao of Physics.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Misty » April 11th, 2012, 7:57 pm

There are so many films over the years that fit this criteria. I hope the ones I offer here are acceptable.

I liked the 2011 film called -- The Ledge by Matthew Chapman. Stars Charlie Hunnam, Terrance Howard, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson (I may have his last name wrong). conflicts of atheist and fundamental christian

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson filmed in 1969 town devouring their own because of ritual

I think both of these films are conversation worthy.
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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » April 12th, 2012, 6:28 am

A Poster He or I wrote:
I recently saw a movie named "Baraka", which i really enjoyed. It's non-narrative, and just uses pictures of human life in different settlements, and have some stunning shots of nature as well as big city life. I haven't seen anything like it, it's really original in the way it gets your mind working on philosophical topics like pantheism and deep ecology. I deeply recommend this one!
I love Baraka. However it owes a great deal stylistically to the films of Godfrey Reggio such as Koyaanisqatsi. This makes sense because the man who made Baraka was the cinematographer for Koyaanisqatsi. If you responded to the cinematic style of Baraka, I highly recommend Koyaanisqatsi (although it is much more bleak than Baraka).
You should check out Andrey Tarkovsky. Great Russian director that makes really interesting movies. Very artistic and with good philosophical content as well.
Tarkovsky's "Stalker" is my favorite movie of all time, bar none. An utterly unique exploration of the human capacity for faith.

A couple of other philosophical film recommendations:

Steppenwolf, an inspired and faithful adaptation of the Hermann Hesse novel about creating meaning for life by balancing its Apollonian and Dyonisian elements.

Mindwalk, a discussion of the interconnectedness of everything inspired loosely by a famous pop science book, The Tao of Physics.
Great, thanks, I'll check Koyaanisqatsi out, it sounds interesting!

I agree with you, Stalker is magnificent. Really sucks you into it, it's so beautifully shot. -I have Solaris and Nostalghia downloaded, which I really look forward to watch as well.

Mindwalk too is a good film as you say in terms of philosophical content. Offers some interesting thoughts on holism.

Wow, Steppenwolf, what can I say. Herman Hesse might be my favorite author. I didn't know that they had some of his works into film, but I'll definitely check it out. Hope it lives up to the book!

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by A Poster He or I » April 12th, 2012, 11:45 am

Vojos,

Nostalghia and Solaris are my other 2 most favorite Tarkovsky movies. Tarkovsky's Solaris is much, much better than the George Clooney version from a few years ago. If you like them, be sure to check out Tarkovsky's final movie The Sacrifice, which is about a group of isolated villagers who believe the world is coming to an end and what they do in the last few hours.

The movie of Steppenwolf is from the early 70s, starring Max von Sidow and Dominique Sanda. It is much more lighthearted than the book--almost humorous at times--but don't let that put you off. It is quite faithful to the book in terms of the story and message. Just a different treatment, if you will.

There is one other Hesse novel committed to film: Siddhartha. It has the opposite problem of the Steppenwolf movie: it is more serious and heavy than the book. A very handsome movie but a little bit "overwrought." Still, if you love Hesse like I do, definitely check it out.

If someone would make a big-budget film of Hesse's The Glass Bead Game, I'd feel like I'd died and gone to heaven...

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » April 12th, 2012, 2:16 pm

A Poster He or I wrote:Vojos,

Nostalghia and Solaris are my other 2 most favorite Tarkovsky movies. Tarkovsky's Solaris is much, much better than the George Clooney version from a few years ago. If you like them, be sure to check out Tarkovsky's final movie The Sacrifice, which is about a group of isolated villagers who believe the world is coming to an end and what they do in the last few hours.

The movie of Steppenwolf is from the early 70s, starring Max von Sidow and Dominique Sanda. It is much more lighthearted than the book--almost humorous at times--but don't let that put you off. It is quite faithful to the book in terms of the story and message. Just a different treatment, if you will.

There is one other Hesse novel committed to film: Siddhartha. It has the opposite problem of the Steppenwolf movie: it is more serious and heavy than the book. A very handsome movie but a little bit "overwrought." Still, if you love Hesse like I do, definitely check it out.

If someone would make a big-budget film of Hesse's The Glass Bead Game, I'd feel like I'd died and gone to heaven...
I have the Tarkovski-version of course. The originals tend to be better than the re-makes for a broader audience are. In addition to that, Tarkovski is a legend, it's almost a shame to edit on his material.

Ingmar Bergman is also a director in that category and one I highly recommend. But since you've watched Tarkovski I suspect you're familiar with him already.

Thank you for many good film-suggestions. I'll be sure to check them out. I'll watch both of Hesse's book adaptations.

I have yet to read "The Glass Bead Games" actually, but that's definitely on my "to read"-list. I'd would feel the same way about "Demian". However I don't think direct adaptations would really serve the books justice since it's so much inner dialog in form of reflections. But with a more artistic approach a good filmmaker/director might bring something new in addition to the books, as not in a substitute to them (for those who are too lazy to read them), but more as a contribution.

I'll throw out "I'm not there" as an example, although it probably doesn't say you anything. It's a very "artsy" film that covers Bob Dylan's life in a very creative way, but might not make as much sense if you're not familiar with his life and the cultural-circumstances in forehand.

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by A Poster He or I » April 12th, 2012, 2:43 pm

...with a more artistic approach a good filmmaker/director might bring something new in addition to the books, as not in a substitute to them (for those who are too lazy to read them), but more as a contribution.
It's a good point you make here about film adaptations of books. There are so very few movie adaptations that do justice to their literary sources, but of the 3 adaptations off the top of my head that DO match the book for quality, all 3 of them did add something of their own, not found in the books.

A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick's film adds a cocky irreverence over Burgess' novel that makes this study of violence and the control of violence much more horrific than the novel.

Slaughterhouse Five. George Roy Hill's adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war novel is far more engaging and effective than the book--even Vonnegut himself thought so and was ecstatic about the movie. Hill throws in a sense of macabre slapstick at points and turns one of the book's minor characters (Paul Lazzaro) into a highly effective foil for the main character which supercharges the storyline.

Being There. Screenwriter Jerzy Kosinski vastly expanded his own short novel/parable into a feature-length film starring Peter Sellars, that more deeply, yet cogently, explores how personal identity is actually a balance of the individual and the forces of socialization. (Unfortunately, the final scene in the movie ruins the story, so the novel is ultimately more valuable).

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Invictus_88 » April 12th, 2012, 2:46 pm

Equilibrium, The Matrix, and V for Vendetta are all entertaining, but their philosophical content is pretty straightforward or even superficial.

Equilibrium: Totalitarianism is worth fighting.

The Matrix: As above, plus "How do we know this is 'real life'?".

V for Vendetta: As 'Equilibrium' above.

For deeper and more challenging types of thought, perhaps we could consider 'Ma Mere', or 'Irreversible'. (Not recommended for young or immature audiences, those with delicate sensibilities, the easily offended, the nervous, or those with upsetting sexual histories.)

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Re: Philosophical Films

Post by Vojos » April 12th, 2012, 4:41 pm

I would also recommend "Waking Life", as Scott said earlier. I love that film, and I've already watched it several times after it was suggested.

"My dinner with Andre" is another movie I watched recently which I enjoyed greatly. I'll probably watch it again soon!

"The Man from Earth" written by Jerome Bixby, also a film I watched recently, a science fiction film which consists of pure dialog. Sounds pretty weird when you think of what most people associates with the word "science-fiction", but I liked it. It's about a cro-magnon man that has survived up to this age. It has a pretty firm basis in both history in science, as far as I know.

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