18 Best Existential Movies That You Should Watching Update 07/2024

Best Existential Movies

Philosophers in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s coined the term “Existentialism” to refer to a belief that philosophical reasoning begins with the particular subject, not only the thinker.

Their view is that, when people make decisions based on their life experiences, beliefs, and attitude, they are constantly trying to figure out who and what they are. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. To put it another way, “existentialism” is a school of thought that emphasizes the need of taking responsibility for one’s own actions in order to discover one’s own identity and the meaning of life.

Top existential movies are included below, with their creators’ attempts to understand what it means to exist in this world. Are our beliefs shaped by our past experiences? Isn’t life useless in and of itself? A few of the many queries these films pose are addressed here. Please tell us which of these top-rated spiritual films is your favorite. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all offer streaming options for some of the best existential films.

18. Birdman (2014)

Birdman (2014)

In a way, ‘Birdman’ defies the conventions of filmmaking, bursting at the seams with raw, unadulterated energy. In some cases, it surprises, challenges, and dazzles at the same time. It’s wacky, thrilling, and an experience you’ve never had in a movie theater before. One of the funniest satires of today’s instant celebrity culture, it pokes fun at those who have become enslaved to their own image in the age of Facebook and Twitter. Is ultimately a story about an actor struggling with his or her own mortality.

17. Synecdoche, New York (2007)

A difficult film to see and even stomach is ‘Synecdoche, New York.’ Ignorance is not required; movies like this need to be observed, felt, and thought upon. It is a celebration of all that an artist hopes to be but also a tragedy that shows the flip-side of artistic desire, where the real meets the imaginary, sending the artist’s mind into the dark depths of confusion and depression. ‘Synecdoche New York’ would not appeal to everyone.

16. Persona (1966)

A film like “Persona” is difficult to include in any genre-based lists because of the film’s immense complexity and ambiguity in the subjects it addresses. Film critics, scholars, and cinephiles all over the world have debated and studied “Persona,” which is still open to many different takes. Nurse and patient form an unsettling bond in this film about the odd personalities of two people. An examination of human identity, the film blurs and disturbs our notions of the difference between dreams and reality, and dives deep into the psyche’s darkest and most complex realms. As a highly personal and intimate film, ‘Persona’ has been described as cinematic poetry.

15. Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver (1976)

Cab Driver is the story of a Vietnam veteran who has been emotionally scarred by the loneliness and unhappiness that have consumed him for most of his life. ‘Taxi Driver’ is a mostly character-driven drama, and Robert De Niro’s performance as a guy on the verge of a psychotic breakdown is nothing short of breathtaking. Perhaps Travis Bickle was once a lovable, charismatic person who felt alienated from a place he had once called home because of conflict. One can only imagine what it must have been like to grow up in a world where murders and misdemeanors rule the day-to-day lives of the majority of the population.

14. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003)

A Buddhist monk’s journey through the various seasons of life is shown in ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring,’ a film by South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk. An analogy for human life’s eternal recurrence and cyclical nature is seen throughout the picture. It also touches on the themes of love, sacrifice, dedication, solitude, and fidelity as it progresses.. The film, which has a reputation for having few words, is highly introspective and takes the audience on a peaceful journey.

13. The Seventh Continent (1989)

‘The Seventh Continent,’ by Michael Haneke, doesn’t sound like a horror film to me, yet that’s what most people refer to it as. A watching of this video leaves the viewer feeling forlorn, unhappy, and afraid, making it difficult to argue with them. Featuring a dysfunctional family who despises the world and everything in it, this 1989 classic takes a chilly and detached posture to further alienate the three protagonists from the rest of society, which causes the audience to feel passionately for them as their existence takes a tragic turn. Heavily unpleasant, Haneke’s first picture taunts and never lets go of its grip on audiences. If the audience refers to it as a “horror film,” they’re referring to a unique type of scary film. A personal, intimate, and harrowing recounting of a genuine tragedy, The Seventh Continent is covered in ambiguity and realism, leaving you unable to speak for at least a few minutes after the film concludes.

12. Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Victor Erice made only three feature films before he decided to hang up his camera. El Sur, Quince ‘Tree of the Sun’, and especially Spirit of the Beehive, his indefinable debut, make us all wish he were still creating pictures. A parable about two children, one of them is fascinated by the film ‘Frankenstein’ that was showing in their local theater, and the other who is enthralled by it. Iconic images of Spain’s rural regions are left in an intriguing ambiguity by Erice’s neutral direction, which rarely employs the cinematic style in favor of silent observation. You’ll be left pondering about the intrinsic riddle of life itself: its unanswered questions, its grand mysteries, and their unassailable bafflement. ‘Spirit of the Beehive’ has the potential to either put you in a condition of total despair or awe-inspiring awe.

11. Sátántangó (1994)

When I first saw Béla Tarr’s vast, colossal masterpiece, I was enthralled. Pragmatism and patience are its most distinguishing characteristics. Reflection and beautifully formed statements aren’t the primary functions of this method. This grim reality is too good to be true and far too violent to be realized with such an eye for beauty. By the conclusion, all I wanted to do was close all my windows and hide in the shadows because the movie had been like that madman in the church, and his sobbing had made no sense to me. Since returning to ‘Sátántangó’ often, its insightful social and political observations have begun to make themselves plain.

10. La Dolce Vita (1960)

This Palme d’Or winner shows Fellini’s poetically softened virtuosity in full bloom, capturing an existence that appears too elusive and in other ways, far too real. The protagonist’s sense of aimlessness is underscored by the symphonic arrangement of the vibrancy of life and how transitory it all is, which we are compelled to immerse ourselves in through the film’s speed. His eyes are filled with an inescapable world-weariness thanks to Marcello Mastroianni’s career-best performance. To question the significance of parts of ‘La Dolce Vita’ that appear to have no philosophical or narrative significance is to refuse the opportunity to let the delicious details wash over you and then consider the ramifications. You see only what Fellini wants you to see and it quickly becomes what you want to see too as Nino Rota’s magnificent tune takes us into the dizzying world of Rome as seen through Fellini’s illusion vision.

9. 8 1/2 (1963)

8½ (1963)

To get the best out of Marcello Mastroianni, Fellini uses his pure energy to its fullest extent. To your dismay, you hold on to a particular moment in the picture and realize its steamy richness only to learn that the filmmaker has gone on to another fluttering, delectably poised sequence. The ingenuity of their construction and expression is never lost on us, even if his beliefs about artists and their confusing, ludicrous infatuation with themselves seem outmoded or outdated. As soon as we get our hands on it, it enthralls and enthralls us till we can’t take our eyes off it, and then it’s gone. Like Maya in the film, Fellini’s clairvoyant Maya can read the minds of everyone she meets. Her assistant attributes her ability to telepathy. It’s a combination of a trick and a genuine act,” says Guido when he queries the assistant. Why does this happen? I’m not sure. It’s impossible to use better words to describe the film.

8. The Seventh Seal (1957)

There is a spell put on you from the very first images of Bergman’s legendary treatise about faith, fear, and contentment While the film’s ambiguity is always present, the film’s harsh, grainy look at the sea, the coast, and a heroic knight and his fateful confrontation with the personification of death characterize the film’s clarity of goal. ‘The Seventh Seal’, a 90-minute film based on Bergman’s play, ‘Wood Painting,’ has the power of an old legend passed down through generations that accelerates imagination far more broad than it can hope to contain, thanks to a mesmerizing performance from the incomparable Max von Sydow. As we see Gunnar Fischer’s black and white, the horrifying intensity of this film oozes into our bones. A tale unfolded with sublime assurance and a palpable sense of levelheadedness results in a stream-like fluidity. In spite of the story’s seeming simplicity, it contains important ideas, and the way it is stitched together makes it impossible not to look at it again and again until the story becomes etched into your mind.

7. Stalker (1979)

To this day the importance of “Stalker” on visual storytelling cannot be emphasized, as evidenced by its numerous offspring, including “Westworld,” which has become a massively popular television series. There have been many science fiction stories that have been influenced by the philosophical and scientific ideas of ‘Stalker’ and its brilliant cinematic investigation. What sets this picture apart from others like Terrence Malick’s work and Lav Diaz’s films is not the trance-inducing, abstract pacing, or the soul-stirring monochrome sepia used outside the “Zone,” but the enduring patience and humility. Even the film’s unmatched literal and visual poetry feels as much a figment of our imagination as it is of Tarkovsky’s and his collaborators’, since he gives the audience so much leeway to uncover numerous metaphysical layers of the film.

6. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Choosing a war film might seem like an odd option. That doesn’t mean outstanding movies don’t challenge their categories. The best war movie ever filmed, according to many, is ‘Apocalypse Now.’ At its essence, it is a film about existentialism. With his assassination mission to assassinate an intriguing rebel army officer, Captain Willard makes a metaphorical journey into the depths of reality. Apocalypse Now follows Willard as he looks for answers. The hypocrisy and megalomania of a civilized society are brought into question as we follow him on his travels. He discovers the extremes of conflict that may turn a man into an uncivilized beast as a result of his obsession with Colonel Kurtz.

5. The 400 Blows (1959)

‘The 400 Blows,’ a film by François Truffaut, is a work of art born of genuine suffering.

Truffaut dedicated the film to his spiritual father, the globally renowned film theorist André Bazin, and it shows. His own problematic childhood is clearly depicted in the film, which is clearly autobiographical in character. On the surface, the film appears to be about the societal and family negligence that often leads to juvenile and adolescent misbehavior. You’ll find a video about hope if you dig a bit further; hope that is both intense and soothing. Antoinette Doinel is a stark picture of society itself, which hides its own shortcomings behind regulations, penalties, and judges. Antoine Doinel is the protagonist of the novel. Hope, sorrow, empathy, and outright rage are all explored in this cinematic river of emotion. “The 400 Blows” is the perfect example of what it means to see a work of art at its finest.

4. Tokyo Story (1953)

Tokyo Story (1953)

An attempt at a “Tokyo Story” is the ultimate goal of any filmmaker seeking to tell an important story. All of them are clearly inadequate! Nothing better exemplifies a film that manages to convey an epic tale in such a straightforward but masterful, effective, and lasting manner. Yasujiro Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’ achieved what every surviving filmmaker strives for: a place in the hearts and minds of people for all time. This is something that anyone who has seen the film “Tokyo Story” will recognize. The plot revolves around an elderly traditional Japanese couple who travel to Tokyo to see their adult children, only to discover that they have grown culturally and emotionally far from them and are unable to care for them. The film also has a terrific concept that can be related to by everyone, everywhere. Furthermore, Ozu’s cinematic approach makes sure that you are fascinated in a story that offers significant insights on the evolution of the human psyche as the times change. This is a wonderful idea!

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’s’ beauty rests in the fact that the spiritual journey it takes us on doesn’t adhere to any particular theism or agnosticism; instead, the interpretation is entirely up to the viewer. As a theist, you might believe in an ever-so-kind and loving God; an agnostic might be cynical; a nihilist might be depressed by the pointlessness of life. No matter how small we are in comparison to our supposed technical breakthroughs, Kubrick at least establishes this fact in his film. To find solutions to any existential issues that emerge in our minds, we have to travel light-years.

3. The Tree of Life (2011)

In “The Tree of Life,” Terrence Malick never raises the topic of God’s existence. though his actual awe stems from life itself, rather than being amazed by it. ‘The Tree of Life’ gives a lovely and reasonable view of God in an era where God has become a method of proving superiority and an excuse to harm and even kill. To sum it up, ‘The Tree of Life’ is a cinematic poetry of amazing scale and ambition. Instead of simply asking the audience to watch, it also asks them to think and feel. ‘The Tree of Life’ tells the story of a person’s journey to discover who they are. Ultimately, it is a contemplation of human existence and our place in the universe. You may find yourself looking at life in a new perspective after watching ‘The Tree of Life’ – it did for me.

2. Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Featuring Delphine Seyrig as the protagonist, this French avant-garde feature film is more than just a cinematic experience. It’s more like a test than a movie, and it affects you in a way few other films have. The film depicts three days in the life of a lonely, disturbed housewife as she carries out her daily routine of housework and errands. In the evenings, she works as a prostitute for wealthy gentlemen to earn a living. When her pattern is slightly disrupted on the second day, problems occur. This sets off a cascade effect that manifests itself in the hours that follow. By virtue of Akerman’s particular directorial identity, which includes diegetic atmosphere, and a hypnotic aura generated by the masterwork’s serene, nuanced, and patient personality, Jeanne Dielman entices the viewer into its slow and meditative universe.

1. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Bresson’s haunting masterwork is a meditation on emotion. Unless you count Balthazar as a protagonist or a core subject, you don’t get a clear picture of the film’s protagonist or central topic. Even though you can’t return from a journey across the film’s emotional and thematic terrain without being rewarded if you let him be your point of entry, With hindsight, Balthazar appears almost glamorous; his placid fragility is wrapped in a resigned, uniquely wise sense of control. A deliberate attempt was made even in its palpable honesty in order to preserve in its simple environment and characters a richness that was left to the audience to discover and, in some astonishing cases, fantasize.. Rather of depending on the mindless exposition that most films use, we can assign meaning to each moment in ‘Balthazar’ by appreciating its complexity and silence rather than assuming its contents are allegories of a social or even political nature. That’s exactly why the eponymous donkey is the protagonist.