This list is, of course, far from exhaustive, but these three films are the first ones that came to mind when I stopped to think about thoughtful movies. It’s also no coincidence that Robin Williams stars in two of them, considering that he is one of my favorite actors. It’s somewhat ironic, really, that I enjoy watching Robin Williams in dramatic roles over comedic ones.
What movies make you think about life, its purpose, and your direction in it?
Dead Poets Society (1989)
As someone who writes for a living, I am immediately drawn to a lot of movies that are about the written word. I don’t produce any fictional work myself, but I also understand that it is so much more than just a diversion. The teacher played by Robin Williams reminds us that while medicine and law are certainly noble pursuits, poetry and beauty are what make life worth living. Don’t get too caught up in the mechanics of life. Express yourself freely and fully.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Most movies can fall into one category or another. Bruno is clearly a comedy. Terminator is clearly an action movie. This categorization of genres isn’t quite so clear with a film like Forrest Gump and that’s partly why I love it so much. It truly is a complete movie, offering us pieces of drama, comedy, tragedy, action, romance, and so much more. Through the simple and child-like perspective of Forrest, we are humbled and learn that ignorance can be bliss. At the same time, this simplified view can lead to an extraordinary life with backs as crooked as question marks, bottles of Dr. Pepper at the White House, a highly decorated military career, and a loving son who is smart and not “like me.”
Good Will Hunting (1997)
In order for life to be worthwhile, you have to be challenged. A life that is too easy leads to stagnation, frustration, and delinquency. This, in a sense, is the quandary of elitism. We are creatures of our environments. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) had a genius intellect, but he worked as a janitor. All he needed, though, was a challenge and some direction from Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) to rise above his circumstances and get out of the “victim” role. Take control of your life. It’s in your hands.