Movies aren’t only meant to entertain, there are some that convey deep messages, stir emotions, challenge your deep-rooted beliefs and question the reality you live in. Our earlier post shared 10 existential movies, but that definitely doesn’t do justice to the amount of movies out there.
So based on the recommendations from the Fractal Enlightenment community, we have compiled another list of existential movies to make your entertainment conscious. 🙂
1) A Scanner Darkly (2006) – An adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel by the same name, the movie takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the life of an undercover cop in a not-too-distant future, who becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.
2) What Dreams May Come (1998) – A fantasy drama film that offers a glimpse into the after-life. A man finds himself in a heaven more amazing than he could have ever dreamed of. There is one thing missing: his wife. After he dies, his wife killed herself and went to hell. He decides to risk eternity for the small chance that he will be able to bring her back to heaven.
3) I Heart Huckabees (2004) – A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. A must watch!
4) Mr. Nobody (2009) – The film tells the life story of Nemo Nobody, a 118-year-old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality.
Nemo, memory fading, refers to his three main loves and to his parents’ divorce and subsequent hardships endured at three critical junctions in his life: at age nine, fifteen, and thirty-four.
Alternate life paths branching out from each of those critical junctions are examined. The speculative narrative often changes course with the flick of a different possible decision at each of those ages.
5) My Dinner with Andre (1981) – The quintessential “talk” film filled with philosophical and existential ideas. The film revolves around two old friends who meet for dinner; as one tells anecdotes detailing his experiences, the other notices their differing worldviews.
“Yes, we are bored. We’re all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you Wally that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money, and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? and it’s not just a question of individual survival Wally, but that somebody who’s bored is asleep, and somebody who’s asleep will not say no?”
6) The Razors Edge (1984) – A story of a World War I survivor who returns traumatized by his experience. He postpones his engagement to wealthy heiress and travels to France to resolve his issues. Still discontent a year later, he cancels his marriage plans, travels to India where he finds spiritual help from a Lama. He realises that the path to enlightenment is as sharp and narrow as a razor’s edge.
7) American Beauty (1999) – The movie follows the mid-life, existential crisis of a middle aged, suburban husband and father. After developing an attraction to his daughter’s best friend, the depressed protagonist questions the meaning of his life and as a result begins to take responsibility, and taking actions which ultimately result in his death.
“Both my wife and daughter think I’m this gigantic loser and they’re right, I have lost something. I’m not exactly sure what it is but I know I didn’t always feel this… sedated. But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back.”
8) Into the Wild (2007) – Based on a true story of Chris McCandless, an American young man, who in his quest to discover his true self, abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, he encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
9) Being John Malkovich (1999) – The film follows the exploits of a man who discovers a portal that allows him to spend time inside the brain of actor John Malkovich. The film manages to raise a number of fascinating questions about love, identity, sex and gender, while acknowledging the hard realities behind the achievement of fame and success.
10) The Fountain (2006) – A Darren Aronofsky’s film that is based on the theme of boundless love, mortality, the fragility of human life and spirituality expressed via three stories, each one separated by five centuries. It’s about how we process death, and the existential crises that takes place within our own subconscious. The film has three protagonists, each one attempting to stop the process of dying from stealing away a loved one
“Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.”
11) The Tree of Life (2011) – The film chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man’s childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth.
12) The Celestine Prophecy (2006) – Based on James Redfield’s best-selling novel of the same name, the main character is about to experience a profound metamorphosis. Through a mysterious set of coincidences, he finds himself on an adventure to Peru in search of ancient scrolls, known as the Celestine Prophecy. The prophecy and its nine key insights, predict a new awakening that redefines human life. Resistant at first, he finds that each step he takes, each person he encounters leads him to a new awakening. It is only in this letting go that he finds his destiny and comes to understand the meaning that had escaped him when his adventure began.
Well the list was just too long to put all of them together but here are thirty six other existential movies that the FE community recommends ~
- Fight Club (1999)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
- The Matrix (1999)
- Peaceful Warrior (2006)
- Groundhog Day (1993)
- Cloud Atlas (2012)
- A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Pi (1998)
- Donnie Darko (2001)
- Playtime (1967)
- The Lobster (2015)
- Defending Your Life (1991)
- Solaris (2002)
- Don Juan DelMarco (1995)
- Requiem for a Dream (2000)
- Werckmeister Harmonie (2000)
- The Legend of 1900 (1998)
- Primer (2004)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
- Dreams (1990)
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
- When Nietzsche Wept (2007)
- Dark City (1998)
- Detachment (2012)
- Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
- The Elephant Man (1980)
- Equilibrium (2002)
- About Schmidt (2002)
- Mulholland Drive (2001)
- Mindwalk (1990)
- Wit (2001)
- Lost in Translation (2003)
- The Believer (2001)
- Braveheart (1995)
- The Thin Red Line (1998)