The frustrating truth about life being short can put those who think of it in a bad mood. There is so much to do, and it is impossible to do it all. In the end, we must learn to accept and find joy in each and every thing we were able to accomplish, howsoever tiny an achievement it may be. In order to do so, one must be able to appreciate the value of what they have. This may include the people they come across on their daily strides, the food that they eat everyday, and of course, the movies that they watch and find pleasure in.
Cinema is a very powerful medium, because when done well, it is able to entertain, excite, move, as well as teach us. There are lots of movies out there that look at life through different perspectives and some of these are very appreciative of what it has to offer. Each of the films on this list have had a deep impact on me, because the style of or ideas on living life presented have made me appreciate my own.
It is only natural that we become unsatisfied with what we have. We may feel that we had it better when we were young, or that others have it better than us. We may not be confident enough to face the world with our talents, or we may just crave for more without even understanding what we have. Such emotions are not very pleasant and might be hard to overcome. Thankfully, the world of movies has graced us with some magnificent features which may help with that. The ten on here are ones that I personally feel will make you happy with what you have. After all, isn’t that the greatest thing to be in life?
10. 10 (1979)
One of the lighter movies on this list, Blake Edwards’ “10” is a sweet romantic comedy about a 42 year old married man (Dudley Moore) who falls in love with a young bride-to-be (Bo Derek) after catching a quick glimpse of her in a moving car. It follows him as he tries every desperate trick in the book to get closer to her, even going as far as buying a plane ticket in order to travel to her honeymoon spot in Mexico!
Watching this film made me think of the times I had blindly run behind things I wanted so badly without even thinking about it first. As hilarious as it is, “10” has some very thought-provoking elements that will stay in your mind long after the film ends. Moore’s character slowly realizes that his subject of attraction isn’t exactly what he thought she was going to be, and this leads to him finding the positives of all that he ignored in order to go after her. After all, a glimpse can only tell so much.
The sudden burst of realization is shown beautifully in the film, and it is quite effective. The simple phrase “look before you leap” is the final message of this film, I believe. Not being content in what you have and chasing those aspirations that ultimately bring misery will help very little. “10” is a fine American comedy, and it definitely is worth viewing.
9. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
This Andrew Jarecki directed documentary is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. It is about a real life case from the ‘80s centering around a family, the father of which is accused of committing acts of sodomy along with his youngest son. The film goes on to show the subsequent breaking up of this family with actual recorded footage of the 5 members (captured by the oldest son) and inter-cuts this with the happier times they had before any of the troubling events took place, making it very tough to sit through.
‘Capturing the Friedmans’ is a well-crafted piece of art, and the effect it has on the viewer is one that can only be described as ‘painful’. After I was done watching it for the first time, I cherished the fact that I never had to go through what they did. It makes one recognize the full worth of growing up in comparatively normal conditions, as most people have, and understand the value of a happy family.
8. Limelight (1952)
Charlie Chaplin is best known today for his brilliant comedies from the ‘30s and ‘40s, but very few recall the magnificent dramas he made in the later years of his career. ‘Limelight’ is one of Chaplin’s most personal works. It deals with a washed up clown (Chaplin) and his relationship with a young dancer (Claire Bloom) who he saves from suicide. Chaplin’s character provides confidence and boosts the self esteem of the dancer, all the while indirectly doing the same for himself. It is a beautiful tale about friendship and finding yourself.
‘Limelight’ is a beautifully written film, and the characters are very realistic. A viewing of this movie is bound to make anyone acknowledge the importance of the talents that they possess and inspire them to utilize these skills. It is one of the greatest movies to come out in the early ‘50s, and is definitely an essential watch for any Chaplin fan.
7. Up (2009)
This Disney-Pixar film is one of the more popular movies on here. It is a comedy-drama about an old man (voiced by Ed Asner) and his desire to fulfill a promise that he had once made to his late wife. Along the way, he meets many wild and colorful characters who keep him from reaching his destination, much to his annoyance. The film sends a powerful message about the importance of letting go of past grievances and finding happiness in what we have, so that we can continue to live life with content in our hearts.
‘Up’ is one of Pixar’s greatest efforts, and one of the greatest animated films of all time. It is as hilarious as it is heartfelt, and is a great example of childrens’ films that can be viewed and enjoyed by even adults. The message is very simple to grasp and is well executed, because of how relatable the characters become to the viewer by the time the film ends. Add to that Pete Docter’s excellent storytelling abilities and we’ve got ourselves a fantastic movie.
6. Pather Panchali (1955)
Satyajit Ray’s 1955 masterwork is about the dreams, struggles, aspirations, and miseries that befall an Indian family caught in the web of poverty. The father (Kanu Banerjee) works hard to support his wife and 2 children, and is away most of the time looking for any job that he can find. The mother (Karuna Banerjee) maintains what is left of their shabby home while being the subject of ridicule to her neighbors and relatives. The film spends more time with the children, Apu and Durga (Subir Banerjee and Uma Dasgupta, respectively), who try to find pleasure in the midst of all their troubles. Ray approaches his subject matter with intense care that it becomes rather poetic and heartfelt experience.
‘Pather Panchali’ is a very sad film, and will leave most of its audience in tears. Such harsh conditions prevail in many Indian slums even today, and that is a very troubling thought. Watching this film made me evaluate the worth of what I have appreciate how lucky I am to not have been born with such a background. This movie and the two other films in the Apu Trilogy are some of the most precious gems of Indian cinema, and they will be remembered for a long time to come.
5. Groundhog Day (1993)
‘Groundhog Day’ is a film about taking a bad situation and turning it around in order to benefit not just you, but all those people around you as well. Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a weatherman who finds himself in a strange situation: he’s reliving the same day over and over again! The film chronicles his life from the beginning of this otherworldly happening to when he exercises it to get what he wants. It sends a lovely message about how, if we are confident and determined, we can conquer just about any problem that comes our way.
This Harold Ramis film beautifully mixes comedy and drama to create a fresh experience that is unlike any other film out there. It is both entertaining as well as moving. The way Phil’s character changes from rude and snobby to compassionate and friendly is indeed inspiring, mainly because of the way he learns to accept the problems that come his way, by taking advantage of it rather than complaining about the state it has left him in. The movie will leave its viewers both happy and thinking.
4. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)
Watching ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ is quite an emotional experience. Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a man broken and beaten down by the events happening around him. The film shows how he and his son (Jaden Smith) get on with life during these rough patches using all that they have. Based on true events, this film assures the viewer that if they use their wits and talents, no matter how little they have of it, they will ultimately succeed.
Will Smith gives one of the greatest performances of his career here by playing a man who covers his sadness with a façade so as to not let his son find out what they are going through. He knows for certain that he is good with people and numbers, and he has mastered the Rubik’s Cube as well. We fall for Gardner while watching the film because he tries his best to financially support himself and his child using only those three aforementioned skills and because of this, we become happier than he is when we see a smile on his face. ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ is a very uplifting movie, and it plants a sense of hope and appreciation in the minds of the audience.
3. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
It’s not every day that you come across a film where the villain character is a glass bottle. Such is the case in this South African comedy about a tribe in the Kalahari desert who live their lives isolated from the rest of the world, until a Coca-Cola bottle thrown from an airplane lands on their sands. The tribe members, people who are otherwise content with what they have, find new uses for this strange gift from “the Gods” but start quarreling since there is only one of it with them and they can’t all use it at the same time. They begin to consider the cursed thing as God’s way of testing the integrity and closeness of the tribe and hence decide to dispose of it. The film follows a member of the tribe named Xi (N!xau) who is assigned the task of getting rid of the bottle by throwing it off the edge of the world.
One of the unique things about this film that sets it apart from others is the tribe and their happiness. They do not have much, but are very content with what they have. Sometimes, life lessons can be found even in the most hilarious films and in the simplest people. There is a lot to learn from the tribe – their togetherness, their contentment, and especially their love and affection being just a few. In fact, when they understand that an external object brings hatred into their lifestyle, they do what they think is right and remove it from their world, in order to not dent their relationship with each other. The film is very honest in its portrayal of tribal people and showcases the difference between their world and ours. Ours is more advanced, mechanized, fast, materialistic, and goal-oriented while theirs is happier.
2. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
What if you got the chance to relive your memories? Would you want to come back to your present life, or would you rather stay in that blissful period of joy and happiness? ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ is one of Francis Ford Coppola’s most personal films. When Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) , a middle aged woman getting a divorce from her high school sweetheart, attends a reunion with all her old classmates, she suddenly faints. When she comes to she finds herself in high school, and the year is 1960.
Imagine that you had a chance to talk once again to your departed grandparents. How would you feel? What about all those nostalgic memories of your childhood that have lingered in your mind even after all these years? It would be so great to travel back in time, wouldn’t it? The film shows Peggy Sue walking around her memories, wondering how she got there. She loves it so much that she doesn’t wish to leave. There are no divorces in her past. No taxes, no financial problems, just joy and cheerfulness.
For anyone dissatisfied with their present living conditions and fondly recalling the memories of their past, ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ is the perfect film to see because it says that our present can be just as bright as “the good old days”. We build up our memories as youngsters in our heads to the point where we forget the troubles and sadness that might have taken place during those times. Peggy Sue slowly begins to realize this. She also understands the importance of her role in the present day. She is a mother, she is a friend to many, and that’s where she truly belongs. Ultimately, living in our memories without focusing on our life today doesn’t help in bringing us contentment and satisfaction. ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ is a grossly underrated work by the master who brought us classics like ‘The Godfather (1972)’ and ‘Apocalypse Now (1979)’, and it deserves to be seen by more people.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Often considered to be one of the greatest Christmas-themed films ever made, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a movie that celebrates every person on the planet, because the message it sends is universal. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a man who gives up on all the dreams he had for himself in order to help the others in his life, and this brings him immense pain and sadness. He becomes suicidal due to the lack of importance he thinks his life has. As he reaches a nearby bridge, sad and drunk, he is visited by a guardian angel named Clarence who shows him how the world would’ve been if he never existed.
The movie may seem very simple, but there is a reason as to why it touched the hearts of many. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ shows us that, simply put, we are all important. No matter how big or small the changes are that you bring into this world, a change is a change, and it ultimately does matter. Every person is worth something, and it is necessary to realize this and appreciate it, for then only will we truly be happy. What a beautiful lesson to learn from a film!