Connect: Movies That Inspire & Uplift
If you need to restore your faith in humanity, try watching any of these seven Hollywood flicks…
We all aren’t movie buffs – in fact some of us may feel that sitting in front of the TV is a sheer and utter waste of our time. To a point this is correct. While we may learn something new from TV, actively doing something instead may leave us fitter, healthier and with far more of life’s little lessons that come from experience rather than observance.
That said, sometimes when you’re a bit gloomy, ill or maybe even housebound due to an illness or the weather, TV can come in handy to pass the time well without driving yourself and the family crazy. If and when you need a mood boost, don’t just watch anything that’s playing on the tube. Instead, reach for something that’s proven to run you through the entire gamut of emotions known to man and leave you with a strong belief in yourself and in humanity. Here’s my list of comfort go-to movies that give me a boost, let me shed some cathartic tears and leave me with a smile on my face and an unshakeable faith in humanity.
Schindler’s List: Change is Possible
I am an Asian and probably as removed from the Holocaust as anyone could be. And yet, I am always moved to tears of disillusionment when I see what humans have done to each other, over and over again in history, in the name of race, caste, superiority and power. Schindler’s List is a very real, very bitter moment from that dark blot of human history. From a greedy, grabbing businessman that Oskar Schindler (portrayed by Liam Neeson) is, to an unlikely hero who manages to save 1,100 Jews from being murdered in Auschwitz – the movie is all about reinventing yourself, being better than what you were before and, most importantly, it tells you that each day is a new beginning.
The Pursuit of Happyness: Parents Do Prevail
To be honest, Will Smith was never a favorite actor of mine since all I had seen of him was Men In Black and Wild Wild West. Also Hancock! I didn’t really want to watch the movie but my husband had heard good things so we sat down to it with Southern style fried chicken and some red wine. By the end of the movie I was crying into my glass of wine, sniffling away whilst holding a chicken leg. The utter and sheer persistence of the man that Will Smith played, Chris Gardner, in wanting to give his son a better life was out of this world. I am sure that there are many people in the world like him, but then there are also those who just give up and surrender to their circumstances, too tired to fight and go on any longer. I agree the movie was romanticized a tad and there were many differences between the movie and Chris Gardner’s life, but what remained with me was the clear and subliminal message of the movie. To achieve your dreams you must NEVER give up, especially when the future of your child(ren) hangs in the balance.
The Life of Pi: When In Doubt, Keep The Faith
A rather convoluted movie if there ever was one. Directed by Ang Lee, and an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Yann Martel, the movie stars Indian actor Irffan Khan as the adult Pi. As a child, Pi is named Piscine Molitor Patel (after the swimming pool in France) which he later on shortens to Pi to avoid the rather gross nickname of ‘Pissing’. Born and raised a Hindu, Pi later on also starts to follow Christianity and the Moslem faith. This idealism of Pi, this faith of betterment, this unshakeable belief that God is good stays with him throughout – even when he loses his family and is left stranded in a boat with a dangerous, hungry tiger. It’s a movie worth watching for its stunning cinematography, its question of an ending and some really superior direction… Every person’s faith is different, so why do we need to question it? And why do we need to question our faith? Faith moves mountains and so Pi stays steadfast to his belief, his faith and his idealism all through.
Forest Gump: Love is Unconditionally Steadfast
Tom Hanks as a slow-witted but inordinately athletic Forrest is a sight to behold. As are his little ditties that often start with, “My mama always said…” The thing that this movie teaches you is that love is unconditional. It is devotional. And it is beyond the biology of life and death. Love means you accept, you forgive, you let go, but you take back if need be. And that perhaps is the most uplifting realization one could possibly have.
Cast Away: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way
Another Tom Hanks classic. A man who is all alone in the sea, on a deserted island, never loses his will to survive. He screams at the injustice, cries at the sorrow and even loses his mind because of the solitude – but he never once gives up. His will is strong, so much so he keeps an unopened package that survived the crash with him untouched – his pledge being to deliver it once he makes it back to civilization. After years of hardship he finally makes it back only to have his life in tatters – the girl he loves has long since married and moved on and he doesn’t know what to make of life anymore. The movie ends with him standing at the crossroads, but the scene is uplifting in its own – you just have to make the best of what comes your way. The message of the movie is to not just survive life but live it in the best way possible. You have to empower yourself.
The Shawshank Redemption: Hope In The Pits Of Despair
Most of us have, at one time or the other, been in what may look like a hopeless situation. None more so than Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins). The Shawshank Redemption. Falsely accused of murdering his wife and lover, Andy is incarcerated in Shawshank State prison, serving two consecutive life sentences. While the story whirls into the deep, dark life of a prison inmate at the mercy of other prisoners and the prison guards, the lesson learnt from the movie is to never give up hope. Another strong message that comes across is that whatever the world may take from you, it cannot steal away your dignity of being even in the most adverse of circumstances.
Philadelphia: I Am What I Am, Unashamedly
I seem to be a stickler for Tom Hank movies. This again was a movie that did not interest me in the beginning – the struggles of an AIDS patient was far removed from my life though I fully empathized with the victims of this disease. What comes to mind when you watch this movie is how a disease, even such a notorious one as AIDS, cannot take away a person’s dignity and right to life. Tom Hank’s depiction of homosexual AIDS victim Andrew Beckett is one that makes you laugh and cry at the same time, as is Denzel Washington’s version of the very reluctant, very homophobic lawyer Joe Miller. So yes, they win the discrimination lawsuit – but that’s not what the movie is about. The movie leaves you with a feeling that as long you do others no harm, what you do in your private life and where it leaves you at is not something to be hidden like a dirty secret. This movie is all about dignity and pride and having faith in you -- even when others do not.
So these are seven of my go-to movies that lift me up when I’m down. Would love to know your favorite cheer-up movies in the comments section below…