Why do we watch films? Renowned film critic Roger Ebert once said: “For me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”
Life sometimes can feel overwhelming and perplexing, but through the arts we can learn to make sense of things. Film offers us the chance to see profound life lessons and principles in action. We see the value of living for the sake of others or dedication to a noble vision that cannot be extinguished. We can often connect with a film’s characters and live and learn as they do. And while their journey might end with the rolling of the credits, ours will continue and carry with it the impact of these stories.
So why not make a movie night that will offer more than special effects and a few chuckles? With Selma kicking off the race of inspirational films of 2015, here’s a selection of inspirational films from last year that will make you want to get up on your feet and live life in a new light:
The Imitation Game
“When constructing a building, one must dig deep and lay down concrete. If one digs shallow and puts in the concrete, one cannot build a strong building.”—Father Moon
The Imitation Game follows the real-life story of British computer scientist Alan Turing and his attempts at breaking the Nazis’ Enigma code to help win the Second World War. Turing represents a man of not just mathematical genius but also of integrity. He is firmly rooted in what he knows to be right and is never swayed by the influence of others.
The Imitation Game shows us the value of never faltering from our visions. Turing is by no means socially adept, popular or particularly amiable, but he is the one visionary capable of changing the course of the war, and, as his wife tells him: “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
The Fault in Our Stars
“Don’t live your life as though you were measuring it with a ruler.”—Father Moon
The Fault in Our Stars shows us what it means to live life to the fullest, even when one’s days are numbered. It follows Gus and Hazel as they fall in love in spite of her terminal illness. The film handles the sadder aspects of life with honesty and dignity and affirms that there is beauty in hardships as well as good times. In the face of death our characters learn the value of those around them. While marketed as a love story, the film also shows the value of loving relationships with family and friends.
The Fault in Our Stars shows us that the key to life isn’t in how much time we’re given. Instead it’s about how much we give in that time. It’s about the ability to seize the day and truly treasure the ones we love.
“If you pick up a paintbrush and focus your sincerity and dedication on your hand and say to yourself, ‘A great artist will come and help me,’ and concentrate your mind, you can create a wonderful painting that will inspire the world.”—Father Moon, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, 59
Not a fan of Hollywood? Are you into more highbrow cinema or do you prefer documentary film? Then try Tim’s Vermeer, directed by Teller of the illusionist duo Penn & Teller. The film provides entertainment but also a profound message about the hard work, labor and perfectionism that precede any great artistic accomplishment.
The film is a documentary in which inventor Tim Jenison, a man who has never painted in his life, dedicates himself to replicate a Vermeer. Johannes Vermeer is often regarded as the greatest painter in history, and the film represents one man’s desire and dedication toward producing a work of a similar caliber to that of his idol. However, the film is not about the painting itself but rather is about the artistic journey and the hours of determination and effort that go before artistic accomplishment.
Did we miss your most inspiring film of 2014? What impact did it have and what life lessons could you see through it? Please let us know in the comments!