My top ten inspirational movies...
When I feel down or fearful or just lack the motivation to do whatever it is that I'm resisting, an inspirational movie often gets me going again. For me though, inspiration comes in an unusual package.
We all love the 'hero' story, where good triumphs over evil and the hero saves the day. But what about when the hero dies, or the hero can't save the day but saves himself through his own rise from demise?
Yes, I know...it's still saving the day in some form or another, I get that.
What we really want to know though, through these stories, is that good will triumph forever and death will never come to us if we behave well. Hmm...
In the meantime...
...because we can't escape death...
Here are my top ten favourite movies, in no particular order, that have given me inspiration through death and a desire to live fully right now, not someday:
WARNING: Tissues may be required!
1. Patch Adams (1998) - In 1969, Hunter Adams was a troubled man who voluntarily committed himself into a mental institution. Once there, he finds that helping his fellow inmates there gives him a purpose in life. Thus inspired, he leaves the asylum and vows to become a doctor to help people professionally. However, what he finds at medical school is a sickeningly callous philosophy that advocates an arms-length attitude to the patients that does not address their emotional needs or the quality of their lives. "Patch" Adams is determined to find a better way to help them, although the consequences of his defiance of the rules and the authorities are severe. IMDb Synopsis / Trailer
2. Tuesdays with Morrie (1997) - Newspaper columnist Mitch Albom recounts time spent with his 78-year-old sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, at Brandeis University, who was dying from Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). Albom, a former student of Schwartz, had not corresponded with him since attending his college classes 16 years earlier. The first three chapters incorporate an ambiguous introduction to the final conversation between Albom and Schwartz, a brief flashback to Albom's graduation, and an account of the events Albom experienced between graduation and the reunion with his professor. Albom is a successful sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press despite his childhood dream of being a pianist. After seeing Schwartz on Nightline, Albom called Schwartz, who remembered his former pupil despite the lapse of 16 years. Albom was prompted to travel from Michigan to Massachusetts to visit Schwartz. A newspaper strike frees Albom to commute weekly, Tuesdays, to visit with Schwartz. The resulting book is based on these fourteen Tuesdays they meet, supplemented with Schwartz's lectures and life experiences and interspersed with flashbacks and allusions to contemporary events. Wikipedia Synopsis / Trailer
3. The Fountain (2006) - At its core, The Fountain is the story of a 21st century man, Tommy, (Hugh Jackman), losing his wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz) to cancer in 2005. As she is dying, Izzi begs Tommy to share what time they have left together, but he is focused on his quest to find a cure for her. While he's working in the lab, she writes a story about 16th century Queen Isabella losing her territory to the Inquisition while her betrothed, conquistador Tomás, plunges through the Central America forest in Mayan territory, searching for the Tree of Life for his Queen. Since she does not have time herself, Izzi asks Tommy to finish the story for her. As they look out to the stars, she imagines that their souls will meet there when the star dies. And we see astronaut Tom, in 2500, travelling there for the event, in a spaceship made of an enclosed biosphere containing the Tree of Life. The three story lines are told non-linearly, each separated by five centuries. The three periods are interwoven with match cuts and recurring visual motifs; Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the main characters for all three narratives. Even within a given narrative, the elements of that particular story are not told in chronological order. Whether these stories are actual events, or symbolic, is not clarified; and, Director Darren Aronofsky emphasized that the storylines in their time periods and their respective convergences were open to interpretation. The director has said of The Fountain's intricacy and underlying message, "[The film is] very much like a Rubik's Cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there's only one solution at the end." Wikipedia Synopsis / Trailer
4. The Fisher King (1991) - Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), a cynical, arrogant talk radio host, becomes suicidally despondent after his insensitive on-air comments inadvertently prompt a depressed caller to commit a mass murder at a popular Manhattan bar. Three years later, while heavily intoxicated and depressed, he attempts suicide. Before he can do so, he is mistaken for a homeless person and is attacked and nearly set on fire by thugs. He is rescued by Parry (Robin Williams), a deluded homeless man who is on a mission to find the Holy Grail, and tries to convince Jack to help him. Jack is initially reluctant, but comes to feel responsible for Parry when he learns that the man's condition is a result of witnessing his wife's horrific murder at the hands of Jack's psychotic caller. Parry is also continually haunted by a hallucinatory Red Knight, who terrifies him whenever he shows any confidence. Jack learns that Parry had slipped into a catatonic state following his wife's death and had remained there for a few years. When he emerged he was obsessed with the legend of the Fisher King, a form of which he recounts to Jack. Jack seeks to redeem himself by helping Parry find love again. He sets Parry up with Lydia, a shy woman who works as an accountant for a Manhattan publishing house, with whom Parry has been smitten. Jack and his girlfriend, Anne, then join them for a dinner date. Following dinner, Parry declares his love for Lydia but is once again haunted by the Red Knight. Trying to escape his hallucinatory tormentor, he is attacked by the same thugs who had earlier attacked Jack. The beating is not fatal but causes Parry to become catatonic again. Jack infiltrates the Upper East Side castle of a famous architect and retrieves the "Grail," a simple trophy. When he brings it to Parry, the catatonia is broken and Parry regains consciousness. Wikipedia Synopsis / Trailer
5. Beaches (1988) - Based on a novel by Iris Rainer Dart, Beaches traces the 30-year oil-and-water friendship between free-spirited Bronx Jew CC Bloom (Bette Midler) and uptight San Francisco WASP Hillary Essex (Barbara Hershey). The two meet as children in Atlantic City (played by Mayim Bialik and Marcie Leeds) and are reunited in the 1960s, when CC is a struggling singer and Hillary is trying to break free from her staid upbringing by becoming an activist. The two ladies room together, then fall out when both are attracted to off-Broadway producer John Pierce (John Heard). CC wins John, but she quickly outgrows him as she matriculates into a bawdy performer. The recently patched-up friendship between CC and Hillary is torn asunder again when Hillary and her new husband express distaste for CC's performing style. Comes the 1970s, and CC and Hillary are reunited after shedding their respective spouses. Broke again, they once more become Manhattan roommates. Their bond strengthens, but there is tragedy in store for the duo. Moviefone Synopsis / Trailer
6. Seven Pounds (2008) - Two years ago, Tim Thomas (Will Smith), sending a text message while driving, caused a car crash in which seven people died: six strangers and his fiancee, Sarah Jenson (Robinne Lee). In a bid for redemption, Tim sets out to save the lives of seven good people, although this goal only becomes clear near the end of the film, or earlier for those viewers who are able to piece together the clues offered in flashbacks throughout the film. Wikipedia Synopsis / Trailer
7. My Sister's Keeper (2009) - Conceived by means of in vitro fertilization, Anna Fitzgerald (Abigail Breslin) was brought into the world to be a genetic match for her older sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), who suffers from acute promyelocytic leukemia. Because of her sister's dependency on her, Anna is unable to live the life she wants; in and out of the hospital constantly, she cannot take part in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading or soccer. When Kate turns 13 she goes into renal failure. Knowing that she will have to donate one of her kidneys to her sister, Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation and the rights to her own body. Attorney Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) agrees to work for Anna pro bono. The film is interlaced with flashbacks that detail the strong relationship between Kate and Anna, as well as how Kate's illness has affected her siblings' lives. Before the result of the case is known, it is revealed that Kate had asked Anna to file for medical emancipation. Believing that she would not survive the surgery, Kate wants to die. Anna wins the case, and due to her sister's wishes does not donate her kidney. Kate later dies at the hospital. The family moves on with their lives, being changed by Kate's death, but every year on Kate's birthday they go to Montana, which was her favorite place in the world. IMDb Synopsis / Trailer
8. P.S. I Love You (2007) - On a country road in Ireland over ten years ago, it was love at first sight for Holly, a lost young tourist (Hilary Swank), and Gerry, a charming local lad (Gerard Butler). Holly's formidable mother, (Kathy Bates), disapproved of the couple, concerned that her spirited daughter was too young for marriage. In the years since, the once fearless Holly has become unsure of her own identity. When Gerry dies with a brain tumor and leaves Holly a widow just shy of her thirtieth birthday, her family and best friends (Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon) are concerned that she will never emerge from her takeout container-strewn Manhattan apartment. After weeks holed up watching old movies, a birthday cake and tape recording message from Gerry mysteriously arrives, marking the beginning of a series of letters instructing her to perform unusual requests. With the help of her girlfriends, Holly begins a year of wild adventures and a life journey that Gerry has planned for her, helping her to discover who she is without him and reminding her - p.s. I Love You. P.S. I Love You is based on the best-selling novel by Cecelia Ahern. IMDb Synopsis / Trailer
9. The Lovely Bones (2009) - Murdered by her next door neighbor Mr. Walker at the age of 12, Susie Salmon finds herself in a beautiful land, not quite Heaven, where she can observe and comment on the lives of her family and friends. Her body is never discovered and her parents suffer an unimaginable pain. The strain is far too much and her mother leaves. Her father continues to investigate and over many years maintains contact with the police officer in charge of the investigation. Susie also gets to watch Walker and learns of his long list of victims. She also sees him prepare for his next victim - her younger sister Lindsey. IMDb Synopsis / Trailer
10. Meet Joe Black (1998) - Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), media tycoon, loving father and still a human being, is about to celebrate his 65th birthday. One morning, he is contacted by the Inevitable - by hallucination, as he thinks. Later, Death itself enters his home and his life, personified in a man's body: Joe Black (Brad Pitt) has arrived. His intention was to take Bill with him, but accidentally, Joe's former host and Bill's beautiful daughter Susan have already met. Joe begins to develop certain interest in life on earth as well as in Susan, who has no clue who she's flirting with. IMDb Synopsis / Trailer
I hope you enjoy each and every one of these movies as much as I have!
Let's have a chat in the comments section about each one when you've finished laughing and crying!
"As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you have created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on-in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here."
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