The characters of the films on our list of the best philosophical movies are forced to contemplate the meaning of life and their purpose in it.
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Movies that leave us dumbfounded and perplexed are usually the greatest. A philosophical film is one that asks fundamental concerns that challenge everything we take for granted in everyday life. Characters who are having an existential crisis or are in a life-or-death situation are frequently the focus of these films.
Faced with a serious threat, people’s true natures and ideas come to light. Cinematic characters make decisions and react to specific situations in the exact way they chose, which gives the audience a glimpse into their thoughts and beliefs about life.
1. Wings Of Desire – 8
Angels exist in Berlin, bound to their function as simply observers of human life, spending an eternity looking over people and trying to give solace or save those that they can.
This is a post-WWII modernist masterpiece that features the town’s industrialist and reconstructed presence in the backdrop. In a conversation with fellow angel Cassiel, Damiel reveals how much he misses being alive and experiencing the pleasures and pain of being human. In this film, the philosophy of life and the freedom that only humans seem to have are explored in interesting depths, with the price of life being paid in the ultimate price of death.
2. La Dolce Vita – 8
As a gossip columnist, Marcello wanders the streets of Rome in pursuit of “the sweet life,” which he can never find. After spending seven days and nights in the company of many characters, he develops a new perspective on the meaning of life.
Our hero’s unsuccessful search for love and happiness is depicted through seven intertwined scenes in the film. While working for tabloids, Marcello must choose between a more meaningful living in the company of others who share his interests and a life of luxury.
3. The Grapes Of Wrath – 8
John Ford adapted Steinbeck’s novel of the same name into a film. After losing their farm in the Great Depression, an Oklahoma family moves to California and becomes migrant workers.
Furthermore, even though they’re confronted with harsh situations, the characters don’t succumb to defeat and their simple survival is a win in and of itself. The film’s ending is more upbeat than the novel’s. An epic story about the importance of life and how it doesn’t need any additional meaning other than being alive with and for our loved ones is what this book is all about.
4. The Seventh Seal – 8.2
“What is there after death?” is the perennial inquiry of humans. All philosophers, scientists, and artists are searching for the solution to this issue. Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky uses this film to test his personal faith in the almighty. The protagonist plays chess with Death as though to put his faith in God to the ultimate test. To him, life is a prison, and the only way out is death, which is the ultimate form of release.
One of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, Bergman’s classic explores the meaning of life as an intrinsic need to appreciate the little things, such as the taste of strawberries or the sound of a cheerful song and breakfast shared with a family..
5. Tokyo Story – 8.2
Filmgoers are conditioned to look for drama, yet Ozu subverts this expectation in all of his works. This picture, in particular, lacks even the tiniest conflict or tension. An elderly couple visits their children throughout the film, and they virtually always get a chance to see their children’s strengths and weaknesses firsthand.
Not because they are disinterested in their children, but because everyone else is engrossed with their own life, these parents become a nuisance to their own children. The film’s philosophical substance is derived from Ozu’s ability to show us the relevance of everyday life and seemingly inconsequential tasks in a dispassionate manner.
6. Rashomon – 8.2
Rashomon, a film by Akira Kurosawa, explores the concept of absolute truth. What one sees in this film is influenced by where one stands, and so the subject of perspective is brought into the picture. “Seeing is believing” is entirely broken here.
In the famous 6 or 9 dilemma, one person sees the number and says it’s 6, while the other sees it and says it’s 9. Even though neither one is fully inaccurate, extending this logic to include each character’s perspective as their own interpretation of reality in a cinematic narrative makes the whole story unstable.
7. Ikiru – 8.3
When Mr. Watanabe is diagnosed with cancer, he is filled with an irrepressible desire to live. He was a typical bureaucrat till that point in his life, leading a dreary existence. After hearing youngsters singing happy birthday to their friend at a little restaurant, Watanabe determines to accomplish at least one act of value, and sets off on a journey to do so. The moment he realizes that he has control over his own story, he begins to live.
Even if a single man’s unwavering commitment in constructing something substantial can inspire, fury, and frustration in others around him, it’s only after he’s gone that everyone strives to understand and admire him..”
8. It’s A Wonderful Life – 8.6
The wonderful thing about this holiday classic is that it’s still relevant today, even though it was released decades ago. It is only when a guardian angel tells him that he is important that he realizes that he can persevere through the hardships that life has dealt him. This covers the simplest acts of generosity that went unrecognized and unappreciated throughout his life, as well as the changes he made in the lives of those around him, his neighbors, and his family if he had never been born.
The protagonist’s trust in life is restored and he accepts the opportunity to return to his loved ones at the end of the day in the film’s conclusion.
9. Life Is Beautiful – 8.6
There was a palpable sense of loss and mourning in the air following World War II. In the wake of the financial crisis, many people felt disillusioned and lost in life. People are encouraged to cling on to hope by the film’s quirky and endearing protagonist, which is crucial for survival. His sense of humor and narrative talents are used to save his only kid in the most desperate of circumstances, despite the fact that the audience could tell he had no hope of surviving because unlike past heroes, he had neither physical strength nor fortune.
It’s sweet and admirable that he was able to re-imagine the horrors of concentration camps as a game to assist his son overcome them. The character’s irrepressible spirit is what makes the picture so moving.
10. The Shawshank Redemption – 9.3
Whether or not a person feels free is a matter of perspective; a person can be free and still feel confined. As a result of spending time in prison, Andy’s memory is not affected. This dependence on the prison’s rules and discipline might lead inmates to lose touch with their own lives outside the confines of their cells. A wealthy banker like Andy who is well-educated decides to construct a library in prison and resist the relentless erasing of his self-identity.
Red is his best friend, and he likes to share his thoughts on life’s mysteries with him. Red kept him going throughout this ordeal by inspiring him to keep going, and it was that belief that kept him going in the end.