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Added by mom3feistykids on 30 Jul 2011 12:30
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Philosophy in Movies: Man's Search for Meaning

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People who added this item 656 Average listal rating (361 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.3
Ikiru (1952)
This excellent Japanese film, directed by Akira Kurosawa, has been described as a masterpiece of existentialist cinema. The protaganist has been stagnant in a civil service position for 30 years and emotionally dead for most of that time. His only son shows him no affection or respect. When he learns he is terminally ill, he desperately seeks a way to give meaning to his life. For the first time he seeks fun and companionship, and he finally realizes he must create something -- something that will have meaning for himself and the people it affects.
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People who added this item 892 Average listal rating (543 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8
Woody Allen's character seeks a reason to keep living. He tries everything from adopting a different religion, then becoming an atheist to finding his desire to live through the Marx brothers. :)
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People who added this item 673 Average listal rating (393 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
Ben and Sol are theists who cannot make sense of life outside a theistic framework. Sol admits he will even choose God over truth, if necessary. Professor Levy, on the other hand, offers a nontheistic philosophy of the meaning of life. I haven't seen this yet, but it sounds like typical Woody Allen-esque existential angst. :)
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People who added this item 1341 Average listal rating (811 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7
A Serious Man (2009)
Variety’s Todd McCarthy describes A Serious Man as “the kind of picture you get to make after you’ve won an Oscar.” What he means to say, I think, is that it’s hard to imagine the Coens pitching this one to a money-hungry executive: “Okay, so it’s a rumination on fate, Judaism, and Physics—and the Jefferson Airplane . . . Well, I mean, there’s this guy—a professor—and his life falls apart, so he goes to see these rabbis, and there are no name actors and no appealing plot and few likeable characters, and it’s filled with all these Jewish references bound to confuse goyim . . . Maybe it’s the first Jewish existential black comedy? Whatever. Good luck advertising it.” -- from a review by Zach Schonfeld

In this black comedy drama, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Larry Gopnik is a Midwestern professor watching his life unravel. She seeks meaning in his suffering and, like Job, he wants answers. But the harder her tries, the more elusive the answers become.
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People who added this item 8900 Average listal rating (5649 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.8
Fight Club (1999)
“We are the middle children of history. We have no unifying cause. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.” — Tyler Durden, waiter, underground cult leader, anarchist extrordinaire

Adapted from the 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club was one of the most controversial and talked-about films of the 1990s. The narrator is an "everyman" discontented with his white-collar job. He forms a "fight club" with soap maker Tyler Durden, and becomes entangled with him and a very troubled woman.

While brutal, this movie touches on interesting themes. Are the narrator and Tyler trying to find meaning through anarchism and violence? Is Fight Club a scathing critique of our consumer-driven culture? How does this film explore the themes of masculinity and/or emasculation?

Discussing this movie might also be an interesting conduit into talking about nihilism.


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People who added this item 1044 Average listal rating (655 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
While I haven't seen this movie yet, and I normally avoid Nicolas Cage in any of his cinematic incarnations, it is repeatedly recommended as a springboard for talking about existential questions. Maybe this is because it explores peoples' struggle with meaninglessness?

Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 romantic drama based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O'Brien. A suicidal alcoholic has left his life behind to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. He connects with a hardened prostitute.

Mary Litch, in Philosophy Through Film, wrote "Leaving Las Vegas shows the complexity of life and human relationships. It remains honest to the end, never sinking into sentimentality nor looking away as the characters' lives follow their necessary trajectories."

Tragically, O'Brien committed suicide two weeks after production of the film started. A halt was considered, but work continued as a tribute.
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People who added this item 6480 Average listal rating (4204 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.4
Litch described this as "One of the most recent in a long line of movies about "existential" desperation in modern American suburbia."

Lester and Carolyn Burnham appear to be a perfect couple living an affluent life. But Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his teenage daughter's friends.
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People who added this item 198 Average listal rating (69 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
O Lucky Man! (1973)
I haven't yet seen this 1973 British comedy-drama fantasy film, described as an allegory on life in a capitalist society. It has been defined as a film about a coffee salesman who travels the UK seeking meaning.
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People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (119 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
Quadrophenia (1979)
Quadrophenia is a 1979 British film, loosely based on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. It is set in London in 1965. Like many other youths, Jimmy hates his parents' philistine life and his job in a company's mailing division. He needs to find meaning and acceptance. With his friends, a "Mod" clique, he cruises London on his motor-scooter and listens to bands like The Who and The High Numbers. I haven't seen this movie yet.
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People who added this item 67 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
This film is based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. Larry is a young man seeking life’s meaning. He lives on the fringe of Chicago’s social elite. Then he serves in a WWI ambulance crew and returns shell shocked. He postpones his engagement to wealthy heiress Isabel, and travels to France to find peace.
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People who added this item 51 Average listal rating (28 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.6
This is a remake of the 1946 film.
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People who added this item 409 Average listal rating (228 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.5
SLC Punk! (1998)
Steve, a kid from a wealthy broken home in Salt Lake City, reinvents himself as a violent, anarchist punk rocker. The punk subculture he joins seems even more radical compared to the Mormon Church’s strong conservative presence in the city. Steve ridicules other youth subcultures and defends punk-anarchism as a world-view, trying to find meaning through this life. Then a series of tragic events unfold, changing his mind. I haven't seen this movie yet.
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People who added this item 1256 Average listal rating (610 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.1
Stalker (1979)
Stalker (Russian: Сталкер) is a 1979 science fiction film. The Stalker leads people through the "the Zone" — a rural area scattered with ruined buildings, where normal laws of physics no longer apply. They come to encounter "the Room," said to grant the deepest, innermost wishes of anyone who steps inside. I haven't seen this movie yet.
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People who added this item 1045 Average listal rating (609 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
In this comedy, Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin play existential detectives you can hire to investigate the meaning of your life. I haven't seen this movie yet.
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People who added this item 1542 Average listal rating (912 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.2
In this Ingmar Bergman film, a knight returns from the crusade, questioning everything he had believed, and challenges Death to a game of chess. Again, I haven't seen this movie yet, so I haven't read up on it; I want to avoid spoilers.
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People who added this item 1009 Average listal rating (551 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.2
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes. In Wild Strawberries, an elderly physician reflects on his past.
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People who added this item 175 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Magician (1958)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 436 Average listal rating (245 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 369 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
The Silence (1963)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 380 Average listal rating (203 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Winter Light (1963)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 222 Average listal rating (106 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Shame (1968)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 593 Average listal rating (307 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.2
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes. This film centers on 3 adult sisters from an upper class family. One of the sisters, Agnes, is dying of cancer, relying on the comfort of her maid, Anna, while the other two have lived lives of quiet desperation.
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People who added this item 115 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.7
Face to Face (1976)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 401 Average listal rating (231 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.3
Autumn Sonata (1978)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 782 Average listal rating (384 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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People who added this item 1296 Average listal rating (680 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.1
Persona (1966)
All of Ingmar Bergman's movies, especially his early ones, have been recommended as excellent films exploring existential themes.
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I am seeking movies for a curriculum on Film Studies & Philosophy I'm writing for my homeschooled teen-ager and me. This section deals with existentialism and the meaning of life (with a nod to Monty Python's epic cock-up of a movie.) :-) Comments and suggestions are enthusiastically welcomed. :-)

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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 4 months ago at Aug 18 13:15
Nice idea, maybe a little vague, there's plenty of other interesting movies. Above them all, the first that come to my mind is Woody Allen's "Fogs and Shadows"!

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