15 Enlightening Movies
It’s difficult to select the 15 Most Enlightening movies, partially because no one’s seen them all and partially because the deepest and most profound movies are not usually popular and therefore easily found.
Also, virtually all movies offer up some gems of useful knowledge or morality, if you do a little extrapolating and read between the lines. Some are blunt and obvious and for others you need to dig a little deeper.
Even a movie like Spider-Man teaches us that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
A movie like “As Good as It Gets” shows in hilarious terms, why it’s worthwhile to be a better person.
“The Matrix” dazzles with its special effects driven dissertation on the powers of positive thinking and believing in oneself and a movie like “Rocky” shows us that working hard, having courage and believing in your dreams can help you accomplish amazing things.
Ah, but this list is a countdown of the very best of the best and here they are…
As you read them, please put together your own personal list and post it below for the benefit of others.
15. ANYTHING BY MICHAEL MOORE
Themes: Social injustice, Business ethics and Political reform
Okay, so this first selection is a cheat. The selection is a cinematographer rather than a movie. Well, A.) It’s good to keep you on your toes and B.) Michael Moore is just such a genius and has done so much relevant work, covering topics like gun control, downsizing, politics and the U.S. healthcare system, that it’s almost insurmountable to pick any one movie from his offerings.
Perhaps his films deserve to be far closer to number one on this list, but there are a few minor things holding him back from being ranked higher. First, it’s hard to choose his best movie, since they’re all wonderful. Second, his topics are all relevant, but none of them address the more important core elements of human existence like love, death, etc. And finally, not everyone can appreciate an amazing documentary, so for some individuals, they are bound to dislike these movies, even though each and every one of them is absolutely brilliant.
Themes: Morality, Pacifism, Justice
This very interesting movie is based on the real life and times of Mahatma Ghandi. It’s long and a bit slow, but Ghandi’s intelligence and self-sacrifice shines through, as do his methods of pushing for social change, which are just as important today as they were then.
13. JERRY MAGUIRE
Themes: Implementing positive change & Striving against adversity
One of the most purely entertaining movies on this list, Jerry Maguire, is based on the true story of a Sport’s Agent whose conscience was bothering him. He sent a memo that made the rounds in his industry and made him a moral innovator, as well as an outcast.
Though the character in the movie is a bit of a lost soul, this movie has a great message about how things can turn out if you follow your heart and let your conscience be your guide. It sounds sappy and trite, but it works. It also has some of the cutest kid’s scenes in movie history!
12. THE TAO OF STEVE
Themes: Relationships, Perception, Attracting others
This is a great underground movie and a real pleasure to watch. It has the feel of a know-it-all whispering all the secrets about dating, courtship and relationships into your ear. Donal Logue is very likeable as the star of this film and is a real pleasure to watch on screen.
11. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Themes: Environmental dangers
This could be the most important movie on the list. If the predictions in this movie come to pass, the world is going to be a much harsher and a much more dangerous place in a few short years.
“An Inconvenient Truth” could serve as a wake-up call to many, who will be caught off guard as millions die due to climate related disasters over the next 50 to 100 years…or perhaps it’s wrong, though the evidence would seem to say otherwise.
10. STAND AND DELIVER
Themes: Implementing positive change & Striving against adversity
It’s easy to look at a bad situation, shake your head and turn your back. This is a fantastic and inspiring movie, based on a true story about a teacher who saw a bad situation and decided to change it by force of will, intelligence, self-sacrifice and courage.
Themes: Prioritizing what’s really important & Living in the moment
Every list needs a guilty pleasure. Yes, it’s Adam Sandler and yes it’s a cheesy, predictable bone-headed comedy, but it works. It’s fun, funny, touching and the messages are clear. It’s the kind of movie that the masses can enjoy and still walk away from as slightly better people.
8. AMERICAN PSYCHO
Themes: Materialism, Lack of substance, Emptiness, Loneliness
Not everyone will be able to watch this movie, fewer still will like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s necessary, wildly different and brilliantly done.
This is the story of a psychopath, who seems to fit into the American business climate quite swimmingly. It’s a wonderful social commentary on so many of the things that are wrong with business and society in general. It’s dark and it’s gritty and it’s hard to watch, but it’s so true and so relevant, especially in our times.
7. AMERICAN BEAUTY
Themes: Disillusionment with the American Dream, Self-deceit, Marital problems
It’s hard to have a top movie list and leave this gem off of it. People who know great American movies are already quite familiar with this multi-award winner, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten, or omitted. These are probably super-actor, Kevin Spacey and talent laden, Anette Bening’s finest performances!
6. DEAD POET’S SOCIETY
Themes: Daring to be different, Dancing to your own tune & leaving your mark
If this can’t openly be described as a cult classic, it should be. Several people have described this obscure film as their favorite of all time. Sure it’s a little movie, with a big talent in Robin Williams, but it roars like a lion.
Though Williams is known for his more comedic and ridiculous roles, it’s not going out on a limb to say this is his absolute finest, as an emotionally charged teacher, who’s willing to break all the rules, if he can help improve the lives of a few heavily put upon students.
5. FIRE PROOF
Themes: Relationship problems, Solutions, Compromise, Faith
Whether you’re religious or agnostic, you can still appreciate films by the great pairing of Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who have brought us such quality pictures as Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Faith Like Potatoes.
Even if you’re not a believer, you can still appreciate the moral lessons, examples and practical suggestions for improving life, presented in these films. If you’re a theist, you’re almost guaranteed to love these offerings. If you’re an atheist, take the God worship with a grain of salt and acquire some of the general knowledge that’s useful and relevant.
4. FACING THE GIANTS
Themes: Positive Thinking, Self-confidence, Perception, Belief
Another offering from the brilliant Kendrick brothers, Facing the Giants is a highly enjoyable film, whether you’re looking for wisdom, or simply want to partake of an enjoyable family experience. But don’t be suckered by the enjoyable story and captivating performances, there’s still a lot of quality advice dispensed in Facing the Giants.
3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Themes: Self-appreciation, Self-sacrifice, Perception, The Butterfly Effect
For a long time, this movie would have been ranked #1 on this list, but eventually, it dropped. This is one of the most decorated and most highly recognizable offerings on this list. Of all the films that come to mind, this is one of the best examples of The Butterfly Effect, which is described in Logical Spiritualism Subjects.
It’s a Wonderful Life is all about the belief in karma; that by living your life morally and virtuously, you will eventually reap the benefits. This isn’t always true, but it’s a great message in a very enjoyable package.
2. GROUNDHOG DAY
Themes: The mind-set & benefits of righteous living and Self-improvement
This is a very over-looked film, which could be considered one of the top 10 comedies of all time. Both Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, give top-notch performances and arguably the best of their careers in this highly entertaining family film.
Groundhog Day is a great demonstration of how to approach self-improvement and the likely benefits of such a commitment. Sure it’s highly exaggerated, but that’s all part of the fun!
1. PEACEFUL WARRIOR
Themes: Philosophies of life, Perception, Self-confidence
This movie was recommended by 2 or 3 people, as a movie someone who’s interested in philosophy, self-improvement or spiritualism would like. It didn’t disappoint.
While, this is clearly not the best or most entertaining movie on this list, it would be difficult to argue that this movie doesn’t best the others in terms of philosophical content and stunningly thoughtful one-liners and quotes.
The other movies on this list offer you philosophical content you can extrapolate. Peaceful Warrior somehow manages to share a bevy of philosophical principals without being overly boring, preachy or trite. That’s a very difficult thing to do.
While our hats are off to the creators of Peaceful Warrior, it’s still a little sad that this is the only movie on the list, which directly incorporates philosophy.
The Greeks did a tremendous amount for the advancement of knowledge, thought and society for the entire human race. They believed philosophy was a very important, noble and useful enterprise. At what point did that change?
You can see clearly by gauging the content of popular movies, that philosophy is no longer in the public consciousness.
Do we really think we know it all now, or that figuring things out has somehow become unnecessary and irrelevant?
Logical Spiritualism needs your help! There are sure to be other lesser-known movies, which offer excellent and relevant philosophical content; movies most of us have never seen and never heard of. Some of you may also have different opinions about the value of certain popular movies. Please share your knowledge and preferences with us by posting your own list of movies with philosophical, ethical or social relevance below.