Philosophy in Movies: Appearance & Reality
8328 7.8 8.71. The Matrix (1999)
“What is real. How do you define real? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know."
Neo, a software developer by day and computer hacker by night, is recruited by an underground rebel named Morpheus. This leads a drastic change in his knowledge of reality and how he interprets his own observations.
This is a fun and thought provoking movie. (Would you take the red pill or the blue one? :-)) It could lead to many interesting philosophical discussions, including perception vs. reality, Plato's cave, and the idea of a Messianic figure.
2791 6.3 6.82. Vanilla Sky (2001)
David Aames takes all he has for granted, especially his relationships. It catches up to him when a friend/sometimes sex-partner can't see their relationship the way he sees it. From that point, the movie takes a Lynchian twist that pulls us into Aames' tortured psyche. I haven't seen this yet, but I am intrigued! Thanks to the giraffe for the recommendation.
1919 7.2 7.73. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Harold Crick, an IRS agent, eventually discovers he's actually a novel character. Thanks to the giraffe for the recommendation.
1798 7 7.54. Total Recall (1990)
Screenwriter Ron Shusett describes Total Recall as a “thinking man’s action movie." Based on a science fiction story by Philip K. Dick, it explores the question of appearance vs. reality. In the year 2084, Douglas Quaid tries to determine which of his experiences are real, and which are merely computer-generated fantasies implanted in his brain by a company called Rekall Inc. I haven't seen this yet.
524 6.7 7.15. Strange Days (1995)
A former cop turned street-hustler accidentally uncovers a police conspiracy in 1999 Los Angeles. Possible Spoiler: Like Total Recall, this movie delves into non-genuine perceptions offered for sale. I haven't seen this yet.
4988 7.5 86. The Truman Show (1998)
At birth, Truman Burbank is legally adopted by a major television network to be the unknowing star of a reality series. His life is watched by millions through an intricate series of hidden cameras. I love the way Truman gradually begins to question his assumptions about reality, including his own perceptions and memories. This leads to a dramatic broadening of his world.
751 7.6 7.67. Paprika (2006)
Christopher Nolan cites this as an inspiration for Inception, but in my opinion, Paprika is better. A machine allows therapists to enter patients' dreams, and when it's stolen, all hell breaks loose. This movie does have an authentic dream-like quality with dramatic use of color adding to the effect. I love the ambiguity in this film -- I could rarely tell for sure whether I was watching a dream or "reality." It reminded me a bit of Descartes' discussion of The Dream.
343 6.5 6.88. The Thirteenth Floor (1999)
I haven't seen this movie yet, but it seems to deal with the gap between perceived reality and truth. Possible Spoiler: Douglas works for a company that has created a breakthrough virtual reality simulator modeled after 1930s California, in which the inhabitants are fully conscious.
3396 7.7 8.19. 12 Monkeys (1995)
James Cole is a convicted criminal living in a grim post-apocalyptic future. The world has been contaminated by a virus so deadly the surviving population has to live underground. To earn a pardon, Cole lets scientists send him on dangerous missions to the past to collect information on the virus, thought to be released by a terrorist organization known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. I haven't seen this yet.
1237 7.5 7.810. Dark City (1998)
A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun and run by beings with telekinetic powers who seek the souls of humans. I haven't seen this yet.
751 7.4 7.511. Waking Life (2001)
Waking Life is an animated story about a young man trapped in a continuous series of dreams. He walks or levitates from one scene to another, listening to a range of theories by philosophers, intellectuals and crackpots. I haven't seen this yet.
786 6.5 6.812. eXistenZ (1999)
Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ. This leads to a strange adventure where reality is possible to determine. I haven't seen this yet.
701 5.7 6.113. Solaris (2002)
A psychologist still reeling from the death of his wife receives a cryptic message from a friend telling him to join him on the space station Solaris which is studying a spatial phenomena. This was recommended as a film on solipsism, the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist, or the belief that nothing outside one's own mind does exist I haven't seen this yet.
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