Thought-Provoking Movies to Watch

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Thought-provoking movies are an extraordinary way to explore the human soul. They can make us laugh, cry, get angry, and move us. But they can also make us think, stimulate our imagination, and make us see the world from a new perspective.

A thought-provoking movie is a movie that leaves us something to think about, that provokes questions, that invites us to reflect on our lives and the world around us. It can be a movie that deals with deep themes, such as the meaning of life, death, love, loss. Or it can be a movie that simply makes us see things from a different perspective, that opens our minds to new possibilities.

Thought-provoking movies can be of any genre, from dramas to animated movies, from action movies to romantic movies. The important thing is that they are well-made, that they have a compelling story, and that they are able to touch the strings of our soul.

Themes of Thought-Provoking Movies

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The themes that thought-provoking movies deal with are many and varied. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • The meaning of life: what does it mean to live? What is our purpose in this world?
  • Death: what happens after death? How to cope with the loss of a loved one?
  • Love: what is love? How to find and keep love?
  • Loss: how to cope with the loss of something or someone important?
  • War: what does war mean? What are the consequences of war?
  • Justice: what is justice? How to get justice?
  • Ethics: what is right and what is wrong? How to make ethical decisions?

Thought-provoking movies are important because they can help us understand ourselves and the world around us better. They can help us reflect on our values, our goals, and our choices. They can help us grow as people and become more aware.

Watching a thought-provoking movie can be an intense and engaging experience. It can make us feel strong emotions, it can make us think about things we had never considered before. It can make us change perspective and see the world in a different way.

Movies can be a source of great personal growth. Here is a small selection of thought-provoking movies that might inspire you, make you take stock of your life or push you to reflect on the world we live in.

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Faust (1926)

Director: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Plot: Faust is an old and disillusioned scholar who makes a pact with the devil, Mephistopheles, in exchange for youth and a life of pleasure. Faust falls in love with the young Gretchen, but his relationship with her leads to a series of tragedies.

Reception: The film was a critical and commercial success, and is considered one of the masterpieces of German Expressionist cinema. It was restored and screened in a restored version in 2002.

Reflections: Faust is a film that reflects on the nature of evil, redemption, and human nature. The film suggests that evil is always present in the world, and that it can corrupt even the best people. However, the film also shows that redemption is possible, even for people who have made great mistakes.

The film is also a portrait of human nature, with all its contradictions. Faust is a complex and multifaceted man, who is both good and evil. His story is a story of struggle between good and evil, which is a struggle that takes place inside all of us.

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Metropolis (1926)

Director: Fritz Lang

Genre: Silent film, science fiction, drama

Plot: In a dystopian metropolis of the future, society is divided into two classes: the workers, who live in the depths of the earth, and the aristocrats, who live in a futuristic city suspended in the sky. When Maria, a sensitive and idealistic woman, descends into the workers’ city to spread the word of God, her message is corrupted by Rotwang, a mad scientist who is plotting to incite a revolt among the workers.

Reception: Metropolis was an immediate success upon its release in 1927, and has since been considered one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. The film was praised for its innovative direction, its stunning special effects, and its complex exploration of social issues.

Reflections: Metropolis is a film that reflects on the nature of progress, social class, and human relationships. The film suggests that technological progress is not necessarily synonymous with human progress, and that the division between social classes can lead to disharmony and violence.

The film is also a reflection on the human condition, and the conflict between individual desires and the needs of society. The film shows how it is possible to seek a balance between these two aspects, and how human progress can be achieved only through collaboration and mutual understanding.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Director: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Genre: Silent film, drama, romance

Plot: A young woman from a rural village in Russia falls in love with a wealthy aristocrat, but their relationship is forbidden by their social class differences. The woman is eventually forced to marry another man, but she never forgets her love for the aristocrat.

Reception: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans was a critical success upon its release in 1927, and has since been considered one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. The film was praised for its visionary direction, its stunning cinematography, and its emotional exploration of love and social issues.

Reflections: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a film that invites us to reflect on the nature of love, jealousy, and the tragedy of life. The film suggests that love can be both a positive and a negative force, and that jealousy can lead to the destruction of a relationship.

The film is also a reflection on the human condition, and the struggle between individual desires and social expectations. The film shows how people are often forced to give up their feelings to conform to social norms.

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The Crowd (1928)

Director: King Vidor

Genre: Silent film, drama, social commentary

Plot: A young man from the working class struggles to find his place in society and find love in a vast, impersonal urban environment.

Reception: The Crowd was a commercial and critical success upon its release in 1928, and has since been considered one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. The film was praised for its innovative cinematography, its realistic portrayal of urban life, and its powerful exploration of themes of alienation, isolation, and the struggle for identity.

Reflections: The Crowd is a film that invites us to reflect on the nature of human existence in modern society. The film suggests that the individual can be easily lost in the vastness of the city, and that the pursuit of happiness can be elusive and frustrating.

The film is also a critique of capitalism and the commodification of human relationships. The film shows how individuals are often reduced to mere numbers or cogs in the machine of society, and that their individuality is lost in the pursuit of material possessions and social status.

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Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Director: Maya Deren

Genre: Surrealism

Plot: A woman returns home from a walk and begins to experience a series of surreal and repetitive experiences.

Reception: The film was met with positive reviews from critics, who praised its originality and visual impact. It is considered one of the masterpieces of surrealist cinema.

Reflections: Meshes of the Afternoon is a film that reflects on the nature of reality and dreams. The film suggests that reality can be ambiguous and subjective, and that dreams can be a form of exploring one’s psyche.

The film is also a portrait of the female condition. The woman in the film is a solitary and alienated figure, who confronts her own fears and desires.

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Citizen Kane (1949)

Director: Orson Welles

Genre: Drama

Plot: Charles Foster Kane is an American tycoon who has everything: wealth, power, fame. But at the end of his life, he finds himself alone and unfulfilled. The film explores the themes of success and failure, wealth and loneliness.

Reception: The film was an immediate success, both critically and commercially. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time, and has influenced generations of filmmakers.

Reflections: The film reflects on the meaning of life and happiness. It shows us that success and wealth do not guarantee happiness, and that man is a complex being who needs more than material things to find fulfillment.

The film is a classic of American cinema, and it continues to be relevant today. It is a powerful reminder that the things we value most in life are not always the things that bring us the most happiness.

Tokyo Story (1953)

Director: Yasujirō Ozu

Genre: Drama

Plot: Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama, an elderly couple, decide to take a trip to Tokyo to visit their children, who live in the capital. The trip is an opportunity for them to reflect on their lives and their family relationships.

Reception: The film was a critical and commercial success, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is considered one of the masterpieces of Japanese cinema and one of the greatest films ever made.

Reflections: The film reflects on universal themes such as family, aging, and change. Ozu explores the family dynamics with delicacy, showing how generations clash and confront each other. The film is also a portrait of Japanese society in the postwar era, which is rapidly changing.

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Ugetsu (1953)

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: The story is set in Japan in the 16th century, during the Sengoku period. Two farmers, Genjuro and Tobei, sell their pottery to soldiers in order to get rich. Genjuro falls in love with a ghost woman, while Tobei marries a wealthy woman, who turns out to be a demon.

Reception: Ugetsu was a critical and commercial success. It won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1953 and was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Reflections: Ugetsu is a film that invites reflection on a number of themes, including ambition and its dangers. Genjuro and Tobei are both driven by ambition to get rich and improve their social standing. This ambition leads them to make bad decisions that lead to their downfall.

La strada (1954)

Director: Federico Fellini

Genre: Drama

Plot: Gelsomina and Zampano are two vagabonds who travel together through Italy. Gelsomina is an innocent and dreamy girl, Zampano is a gruff and violent man. The film tells their story of love and suffering, and their struggle to survive in an indifferent world.

Reception: The film was a critical success, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is considered one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism.

Reflections: The film reflects on the human condition, and the difficulty of finding happiness in a world that is often cruel and indifferent. It shows us that love is a powerful force, but that it is not always enough to overcome the challenges of life.

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Director: Ingmar Bergman

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Plot: The story is set in medieval Europe, ravaged by the plague. The knight Antonius Block returns from the Crusades, accompanied by his squire Jöns. On the beach, upon his arrival, the knight finds Death waiting for him, who has chosen that moment to take him away.

Reception: The Seventh Seal was a critical and commercial success. It won the Jury Prize at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Reflections: The Seventh Seal is a film that invites reflection on a number of themes, including Life and Death: The film explores the theme of death in a deep and provocative way. Death is represented as a real and tangible figure, with whom the knight Antonius Block is forced to confront. Faith: The film questions religious faith. Antonius Block, who is a Christian knight, finds himself having to face his own faith in a world of death and destruction.

La notte (1961)

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

Genre: Drama

Plot: The story begins with Giovanni and Lidia visiting a seriously ill friend in a hospital. Giovanni is a successful writer, while Lidia is a woman dissatisfied with her married life. After the hospital visit, the two attend a reception to present Giovanni’s new book. Lidia, however, feels uncomfortable and leaves early.

Reception: La notte was a critical and commercial success. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961 and was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Reflections: La notte is a film that invites reflection on a number of themes, including: Marriage crisis: The film explores the marriage crisis in a deep and realistic way. Giovanni and Lidia are two people who love each other, but who have lost their connection. Dissatisfaction: The film also explores the dissatisfaction that can lead to a marriage crisis. Loneliness: La notte is a film about loneliness. Giovanni and Lidia feel lonely, even when they are together.

8½ (1963)

Director: Federico Fellini

Genre: Drama

Plot: Guido Anselmi is a director in creative crisis. He is working on his new film, but he cannot find inspiration. The film is a portrait of the creative process, and the difficulty of finding meaning in life.

Reception: The film was a critical success, winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is considered one of the masterpieces of Italian cinema.

Reflections: The film reflects on the meaning of life and art. It shows us that creativity is a precious gift, but that it can also be a source of great suffering.

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Director: Robert Bresson

Genre: Drama

Plot: The story begins with Balthazar, a gentle and affectionate donkey, living with a young girl named Marie. Marie loves Balthazar very much, but her family is poor and must sell him.

Reception: Au hasard Balthazar was a critical and commercial success. It won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966 and was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Reflections: Au hasard Balthazar is a film that invites reflection on a number of themes, including animal suffering: The film explores the suffering that animals can endure at the hands of humans. Balthazar is an innocent character who suffers injustice and cruelty. Human nature: The film suggests that human nature is often cruel and insensitive. Even people who seem good can be capable of violence and ingratitude. Faith: The film has been interpreted as a metaphor for Christian faith. Balthazar can be seen as a symbol of Christ, who was sacrificed for the good of humanity.

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Genre: Science fiction

Plot: A group of astronauts embark on a journey into space in search of a mysterious monolith. The film explores the themes of consciousness, evolution, and alienness.

Reception: The film was a critical success, but it was also criticized for its complexity and lack of dialogue. It is considered one of the most important films in cinema history.

Reflections: The film reflects on the nature of the universe and our place in it. It shows us that man is a small and insignificant being in a vast and mysterious universe.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Genre: Drama

Plot: Travis Bickle is a lonely taxi driver who turns into a killer. The film explores the themes of violence, loneliness, and madness.

Reception: The film was a critical success, winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is considered one of the most important films in cinema history.

Reflections: The film reflects on the nature of violence and madness. It shows us that violence can be a consequence of loneliness and frustration.

The film is a powerful and disturbing look at the dark side of human nature. It is a film that will stay with you long after you have seen it.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Genre: War

Plot: A group of American soldiers venture into the jungles of Vietnam in search of a colonel who has gone mad. The film explores the themes of war, madness, and human nature.

Reception: The film was a critical success, but it was also criticized for its violence and length. It is considered one of the most important films in cinema history.

Reflections: The film reflects on the nature of war and madness. It shows us that war can corrupt even the sanest of people.

Time of the Gypsies (1988)

Director: Emir Kusturica

Genre: Drama

Plot: The story of a group of Gypsies living on the margins of society. The film explores the themes of identity, freedom, and culture.

Reception: The film was a critical success, winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is considered one of the most important films in cinema history.

Reflections: The film reflects on the importance of identity and freedom. It shows us that people of all cultures have the right to be free.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Director: Alan Parker

Genre: Drama

Plot: Andy Dufresne, a man wrongly convicted of murder, finds redemption in prison. The film explores the themes of hope, redemption, and resilience.

Reception: The film was a critical and commercial success, winning two Academy Awards. It is considered one of the most important films about redemption.

Reflections: The film reflects on the nature of hope and redemption. It shows us that hope can survive even in the most difficult of situations.

The Thin Red Line (2001)

Director: Terrence Malick

Genre: War

Plot: The story of a group of American soldiers during World War II, who come to terms with violence and death. The film explores the themes of war, human nature, and spirituality.

Reception: The film was a critical success, but it was also criticized for its length and complexity. It is considered one of the most important films about World War II.

Reflections: The film reflects on the nature of war and human nature. It shows us that war can corrupt even the best people.

Day 122 (2016)

Director: Fulvio Ottaviano

Genre: Science fiction, drama

Plot: A group of survivors of a train accident find themselves isolated in the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. After waiting in vain for help, the survivors set out into the snowy forest in search of food and shelter.

Reception: The film premiered at the Rome Film Festival in 2016 and received positive reviews from critics. It was praised for its direction, screenplay, and cinematography.

Reflections: Day 122 is a film that reflects on human nature, society, and the environment. The film suggests that human nature is capable of great generosity and altruism, but also of great cruelty and violence.

The film is also a reflection on contemporary society, which is increasingly individualistic and competitive. The film shows how environmental catastrophe can lead to the breakdown of society and the struggle for survival.

The Astronot (2018)

Director: Tim Cash

Genre: Drama, Historical

Plot: Daniel is a recluse who has always dreamed of going to the moon. When he meets Sandy, a woman who shares his passion for space, Daniel begins to realize his dream.

Reception: The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 and received positive reviews from critics. It was praised for its performances, screenplay, and direction.

Reflections: The Astronot is a film that reflects on the nature of dreams, love, and the possibility of achieving one’s aspirations. The film suggests that dreams can be powerful motivators and that love can help us achieve our goals.

The film is also a portrait of the passion for space and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams. The film shows how the passion for space can unite people and inspire them to achieve great things.

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Employee’s Mystery (2019)

Director: Fabio Del Greco

Genre: Thriller, Drama

Plot: Giuseppe Russo is an ordinary office worker living a quiet and anonymous life. One day, however, he begins to receive strange phone calls and notice strange events in his life. Someone is trying to control him, but Russo doesn’t know who or why.

Reception: The film was met with positive reviews from critics, who praised the direction, acting, and screenplay.

Reflections: Employee’s Mystery is a film that reflects on the nature of social control and the possibility of living an authentic life in a society that wants us to conform. The film suggests that social control can take subtle and pervasive forms, and that it can be difficult to resist it.

The film is also a portrait of an ordinary man trying to find his place in the world. Russo is a simple and naive man who is overwhelmed by events he doesn’t understand. His journey is a journey of growth and awareness, which leads him to question the meaning of his own life.

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Adele Resilienza

Adele Resilienza

Law graduate, graphologist, writer, historian and film critic since 2008.

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