Looking back, there are some movies that touch us, that resonates with us and greatly influence our lives. Film is great mechanism to get a deeper message through and still maintain our attention. A truly great influential film is one where you can feel empathy for the characters, feel what they feel, experience what they experience. Here’s a sample of some of the movies that have influenced my life:
Requiem for a Dream
This masterpiece directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Hubert Selby Jr. is an amazing film about the harms of drug addiction. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t an educational film preaching for a “Drug-Free America”, this is a movie with style, drama, and powerful performances. The two drugs tackled in this film is Heroin and Speed, and we see how the characters use the drugs as an escape from life’s hardships but the irony is that the drug use is causing the hardships. The horrible experiences these characters go through show me the TRUE dangers of drugs. A gritty and real image of the drug junkie not seen in any “Drug-Free America” commercial or seen in our school textbooks. At the end of the film the true consequences are seen, I won’t tell you what they are, but I assure you will be terrified and will most likely never use hardcore drugs. This movie should be shown in every high school!
V For Vendetta
The most intelligent comic-book film to have graced the big screen! V for Vendetta is one of those films you leave the theater and say “Wow!” The biggest strength of this movie is its deep political message which is relevant to today’s problems. In a world where we have suffered great terrorist attacks and international turmoil and the government has passed laws such as the “Patriot Act” which is meant to maintaining surveillance on potential “terrorist” but in reality what can be defined as a “terrorist”? Remember ones man’s terrorist can be another man’s freedom fighter. To what degree do we give government more power to secure us? Should we give up freedom for security? Benjamin Franklin once said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” V for Vendetta shows a world where the people have given up their liberties in order for security, in turn life in that society has become fearful, strict, and limited. Government does not fix problems, it is the problem. Our liberties and freedom is something we should maintain, cherish, and not take it for granted.
"Vi veri veniversum vivus vici" ("By the power of truth, I, a living man, have conquered the universe")
Another masterpiece by director Darren Aronofsky, a story about a Spanish conquistador and a queen that finds the fountain of youth and embarks on a thousand year journey. A powerful metaphorical movie entrenched in heavy themes about love, life death and the everlasting quest for immortality. This movie is grossly underrated; it failed both commercially and critically and I have absolutely no idea why!! It's a shame people ignore great cinema like this! Due to its complicated story structure and sequencing and subtle themes this film merits multiple viewings. This movie shows how love is constant beyond death. We cannot last forever, there comes an end to our physical lives but love manages to surpass the limitations of age and decay. Love is the true fountain of youth, revitalizing our lives and allowing us to cherish life before it passes us by. This film also touches on the theme of the necessity of death. The fact that we have death eminent in our lives allows us to have an even greater appreciation for life. As the Grand Inquisitor in the film said “Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But, fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.” Maybe this is true, maybe death frees us all from the confinements of the physical world. Maybe death is the factor that connects us all; as Carl Sagan said “We are all made of star stuff” Ultimately death is a cycle for rebirth, uniting us all through the vastness of space. As we continue our quest for immortality, we will learn how to conquer the fear of death. Thus peace can be truly achieved once we let go of our fears and our desire to control them. This film taught me that we must accept death as a natural process of life and of nature. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue to find the cure for cancer or extending our lifespans. We should seek to continue our lifespans and live healthy long lives but all things in the universe ultimately come to an end. Should our goal be to seek immortality? Or instead to have more time to experience life for all it's worth? Sooner or later we must accept death, but as the film tried to show us, we have to live in the present and enjoy ourselves with our loved ones. Ultimately it's really Love and Death that connects us all…
"All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pulled me through time." - Tommy Creo (The Fountain)
Now for one of the best songs from a film score:
Death is the Road to Awe (The Fountain) - Clint Mansell
"A film is a ribbon of dreams. The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins." -Orson Wells