the movie that influenced you?

A month ago, I asked my readers a simple question about “the book that influenced you” and was encouraged by peoples’ responses since there were books I hadn’t even heard of.  So, in that vein, I’m asking another simple question today to balance out an intense blog week with posts about abortion and oppression of women.  I want to thank folks for engaging in such thoughtful and respectful dialogue.  One of my hopes in blogging is to create a level of Community and Conversation – all while hoping to direct people to the life of Christ.

In addition to “regulars” sharing their answers, I am especially inviting the lurkers and quiet blog readers to chime in. No one will bite your head off.  This is your chance to join in and become one of the cool people.

Here’s the question:

What are the films that have influenced you the most and why?

I’m not necessarily asking for your favorite films or what you think is the most influential film to impact cinema but rather, the film that influenced YOU.  It’s possible that your most influential film is also your most favorite film.  More specifically, I’m asking for your short list of films that “changed” you or the way you see the world.  Influential books and movies have the capacity to share a story in such a way that they compel us to change; move us in some way or another.  They inspire, scare, encourage, humble, enbolden…  And more often than not, we can see these films again and again and again.

My answers:

Shawshank Redemption:  I love this film.  I love Morgan Freeman and his voice.  And this is one of the movies I can see again and again.  The reason why this film influences me:  HOPE.

Matrix:  I don’t think I’ve ever been so mesmerized by a film.  Amongst the current 20-30 year olds, this is probably the referred film.  Right?

The Passion of Christ:  Not an enjoyable film.  Have only seen it twice but one of the most influential for simple reason that it doesn’t hold back in the depiction of the suffering of Christ.  In my opinion, this film is a gift to the community of faith and should be seen by all.  When people complain that it’s too violent…exactly.

Enter the Dragon:  Two words: Bruce Lee.  He’s the first Asian person I ever saw on the big screen.  Just seeing that was empowerment.

96 Replies to “the movie that influenced you?”

  1. GLORY: helped me pass American History in middle school and hs, made me first aware of black history, made me sensitive to race relations, gave me numerous examples for discipline/sacrifice/unity during my teenage years, gave me endless youth sermon illustrations during 20’s, fell in love with filmmaking…

  2. Requiem for a Dream is definitely one of my top films. It’s such a truly humbling film to watch in that it really shows how bad things COULD be. It gives you a true understanding of the word ‘thankful’.

    The Invisible has to be another favorite of mine. While the plot and characters may not match up to say… Shawshank; the message it sends is amazing -that no matter the circumstances, never give up hope-.

    Lastly, October Sky. Ever since I stepped into the theater 5 times (at the age of 9 no less) to see this movie I’ve seen nothing but stars. It did nothing short of completely captivate me. The thrill of doing something never done before, exploring the unknown. And that no matter who you are, or where you’ve come from, you can do or be whatever or whomever you so choose. I’m going to school to be an astronomer currently. 🙂

  3. Shawshank has been at the top of my list for a very long time – “You either get busy living, or you get busy dying”

    I am a huge movie nut but there are two africa films that I love… One is a film called “The Power of One.” It combines my love for boxing with hope and making a difference.

    Then there’s the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness” Its a really odd little film about a bridge builder (Val Kilmer) who is charged with building a bridge in Africa and runs into a problem with lions …that only Michael Douglas can fix. At one point the main characters wife says, “If you want to build bridges, you have to go where the rivers are…” For me its a movie about chasing your dreams and doing whatever it takes to follow through to the end.

  4. August Rush. A boy searches for his mother and father. Born out of wedlock and turned over to an orphanage, this boy hears music calling him, and in music he feels that his mother and father is calling him. To me, it is my search for God. This embodies God as both Man and Woman which suggests a completeness, a whole. All characters–through the eyes of the hero– even the evil ones, can be seen for being well-meaning; they are trying their best, even when using others. All events seem to conspire against the hero. Yet, he never loses faith. He believes that Mother/Father is out there and he believes that he will be reunited. He does not judge anyone; he simply trusts and does his best, even when trust gets him into trouble. The hero cares so much for those around him that he would sacrifice his own wishes for others (Christ). It is a very powerful journey.

  5. The Passion of the Christ – a hugely significant movie for me. I tried to watch it again last Easter and just could not get through the scourging scene again.

    Schindler’s List – one of the most remarkable films ever made. I have only watched it once but it just broke my heart and gave me joy (at the end) all at once. What signifigance one life has and how much difference we can make.

    Shadowlands – a glimpse into the mind of C.S. Lewis and his move out of “the mind” and into “the heart”. Living in the heart hurts. But it’s worth it.

  6. Well, I guess I’ll de-lurk, if you insist.

    I really like “Love Actually”. It’s not a particularly clean movie, by any stretch, but I appreciate how it shows all of the different types of love and ways that can play out in different people’s lives.

  7. Cinema Paradiso – wonderful, heartfelt story and cinematography
    The Sound of Music – the power of melody, not only to our ears, but to our souls
    Schindler’s List – humanity, compassion and courage at its best

  8. Almost Famous, Fight Club, Rushmore.

    Very different movies but all influential in their own way. Almost Famous combined a great soundtrack with a great story about finding out what’s ‘real’ and having to make the tough choices to follow that path. Fight Club just straight up challenges our culture and so many of the things we think are good. It is a dark look at our humanity and the forces of the Empire around us. And Rushmore (and other Wes Anderson movies) opens up the subtle and not so subtle realities of our existence. Finding humor and truth in all sorts of circumstances.

  9. Into The Wild: because it was a snap shot of my late teens/early twenties on many levels

    The Passion of the Christ: I did not speak for two hours after watching this film…even though I own it I think I have only watched it three times.

    The Crow: I believe there is a little bit of the crow in all of us

    there are some others, but these are the top 3

  10. fun post –

    my list, which pretty much are my favorite movie too given that I watch them over and over-

    Dead Poets Society – so I was in jr. high when I saw this, but it really helped affirm the joy found in the written word for me (which in jr. high isn’t “cool”)

    Moulin Rouge – I love this movie. And its commentary on the construction of art based on life based on art helped me define the way we all build our worldviews out of the fragments around us.

    and for spiritual metaphors of course The Matrix and Lord of the Rings.

    and I feel like I should mention Star Wars too because since the age of 3 it has influenced me. let’s just say as I kid i was slightly obsessed…

  11. I was going to post a list, but it would look exactly like Julie Clawson’s list…..

    awesome movie taste!!! 😀

    I would maybe add Sound of Music, as it just takes me back to being a kid, and every year, in the fall watching it on nbc.

  12. Pingback: Link Love
  13. Blood Diamond. I haven’t thought of it as a particularly amazing movie, but it came into my life at a time when I was about to head to Africa and had been praying for the continent daily for three or four months. I don’t think the child soldier images will ever leave me, and I’m pretty sure I will never buy a non-lab grown diamond, even certified conflict-free. It changed the way I think about making large purchases and nudged me toward learning how to pray for the world, not just my little church and little circumstances.

  14. The War- beautiful, poignant and powerful story of family, friendship and sacrificial love
    When Harry Met Sally- helped define a weird time in my life with regards to
    love relationships 🙂
    Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) – I’m a sucker for all things German, and it portrays a girl in a very tight spot. I think it’s something we all can relate to at some point in our lives.
    The Corporation- frightening. Changed the way I look at how our country operates.

  15. Garden State – watching and feeling Largeman’s emotional progression, incredible, plus it introduced me to the Shins
    Brian’s Song – 4 words “I love Brian Piccolo” that kind of friendship doesn’t happen much

  16. Hmm… good question, movies are powerful!

    The Story of Us was influential for me in how I view marriage and difficulties in marriage. I love that it ends with hope despite recognizing the difficulties. Less redemptive but also realistic is the old Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford movie The Way We Were.

    Charlie Wilson’s War was influential in my political views…. and influenced how I voted in this election. 🙂

    Shadowlands was painful and filled with deep insight into life and suffering and love.

    God Grew Tired of Us gave me a passion for helping the refugees in the US. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Seriously, TAKE NOTE. Watch this documentary.

    There’s been a spate of films that have convinced me of the necessity and value of standing up for what is good and right, even when it is hopeless. Hotel Rwanda, Schindlers List, Amazing Grace, and Amistad all hit home with that message.

  17. Tron: I saw this when I was seven or eight, and it profoundly affected my view of computers as organic communities that can be interacted with as such. It certainly played a role in my eventually studying programming and pursuing it as a career. Unfortunately, it also instilled a neo-pagan worldview that saw the world as a set of powers that can be manipulated by human will, and I still detect shades of the influence of this worldview when I attempt to think theologically. The film is brilliant, under-appreciated, and WAY ahead of its time. But for me it’s also a great example of how powerfully a film can affect a young mind, and how careful you have to be with kids and a medium as all-engrossing as film.

  18. Wow – this is really hard for me as I am a lover of movies and many movies have and continue to influence me greatly – so in order to not be repititive I will mention some that I haven’t seen mentioned:

    Cold Mountain – inspiring and moving with a great message about the power of love and loyalty

    In Her Shoes – funny and sad with some great poetry (One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon and I Carry Your Heart by e e cummings) that gives hope to the possibility of transformation for all of us

    Legend Of The Fall – I guess people love it or hate it – I loved it – it was all about “family”

  19. @peter crooke: just saw august rush last night. good movie.

    @reJoyce: thanks for de-lurking.

    @julie clawson: ahh, dead poets society. not a huge robin williams fan but that was certainly a very influential film. i saw it in high school and so many students loved that film.

    good will hunting anybody?

    @hilary: the corporation. must see documentary.

  20. Star Wars-(IV, V, VI) Part of Growing up (action, adventure, redemption)
    Matrix- More to life than what we see
    Super Size Me- Entirely changed what I consider to be “food and nourishment”
    My Life as a House- Redemption and Reconciliation (Our actions have multiple levels of significance)
    Crash- A look at Racism across multiple ethnicities

  21. i will de-lurk as well.

    mine is good willing hunting and rocky. it’s inspiring to watch stories of individuals succeeding against all odds and realizing their full potential.

  22. About A Boy – Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz, and a kid actor who stole the show. The idea that “No man is an island”
    The Terminal – Tom Hanks, could have done with Catherine Zeta Jones. The theme of “waiting” and “fulfilling a promise.” Some find the movie a little dull, but it’s kept with me for a while now.
    Amelie – Audrey Tautoo. The cinematography got me into photography.
    Blood Diamond – I see that someone else has already chimed in on that movie!
    The Bucket List – A must see!

  23. As a young girl, I remember watching Dancing with Wolves and crying so hard. We got home and i went in my room and sat on my bed, still in tears (was it 4th grade maybe?). I remember my Mom coming in and sitting with me and talking to me about the movie. I haven’t seen it in ages, but I can remember the emotional hangover I had as a kid.

    More recently, Crash and Constant Gardener hit me really hard. Oh, and of course The Mission which someone mentioned already as well. When the priest decides to stay in the face of the ambush he knows is coming. Wow.

  24. Most recently, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. This book-turned-film chronicles the post-stroke life of a successful French magazine editor (Jean-Dominique Bauby). There is a line in the film, “spoken” by Bauby (he suffered from “locked-in syndrome after his stroke — unable to move or speak due to complete paralysis): “I have decided to stop pitying myself.” I actually had to stop the film for about 15 minutes. It is so easy to feel sorry for yourself, and this film is a poignant reminder of what makes “a life” and what a waste of time it is to live in pity.

    Requiem for a Dream. A crazed film. It makes you think about addiction and loneliness, and what drives people to make certain decisions, in ways that no other movie (that I’ve seen) does.

    Harold & Maude: It’s about love, and the absolute need for human connection.

  25. “influenced…”

    no one’s really posed the question to me in that way before. different from being asked what my favorites are.

    I’d have to go with:
    Bui Doi: Life Like Dust
    Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza
    Sans Soleil

    More than anything, these films influenced the way I watch any sort of media content, be it film, TV, etc. They also affect the way I read, and the way I present my ideas. There’s a couple more than I’d love to add, but I can’t remember their titles.

  26. good will hunting. that robbin williams monologue about why Will doesn’t REALLY know anything, despite the fact he is a prodigy is lodged into my head. i feel so inspired everytime i watch it.

    forrest gump. it held up a mirror to my own human condition.

  27. Looking over the movies here I feel some responsibility to represent the over 50 crowd :^

    Most influential and different from the ones I liked the most or thought were the best, with some overlap:

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird. Blew me away the first time I saw it as a kid and continues to move me every time I see it. I wasn’t a Christian when I saw it the first few times, but Gregory Peck’s Atticus spoke to me on a deep level about goodness. The story is a sad one in many ways but I’ve always found it completely inspiring.

    2. Brother Sun Sister Moon–Franco Zefferelli late 60’s take on St. Francis. I saw it recently and it was definitely one of many movies and books from that era that didn’t age well (it’s waaaayyyyyyy 60’s) , but at the time it knocked me out. If any movie helped influence me to become a Christian, that was the one.

    3. The Exorcist–Scared the bejeezus out of me and my macho, heavy drinking, jock friends in high school. You didn’t say if the influence was positive or negative :^ Don’t think I’ve seen a horror film since then.

    4. The Deerhunter–I was already well on my way to becoming a flaming progressive when I saw it, but it really helped solidify some of my political and cultural thinking. This was a tough choice–there were so many movies during the 70’s that influenced me (golden age of American cinema and all that you know….:^)

    5. Kagemusha and Ran–Two samurai epics by Kurasowa (my favorite all time director). Really effected me deeply. They stand for a lot of movies I’ve seen as an adult that explore the ideas of tragedy and fate, which I find myself drawn to over and over again.

    6. Last Temptation of Christ–My favorite Scorcesi movie, which probably puts me in a category of one. I thought it was such a brilliant rethinking of the gospel story based on Katzanzakis’ novel. Explores the idea that Jesus’ greatest temptation was to avoid his passion by choosing to be an ordinary man, and also depicts Jesus as only gradually coming to understand his identity over time. I’ve thought about the novel and the movie as much as any piece of art I can think of.

    7. I guess this one falls under the category of the most influential movie I’ve seen in the last week, but I was pretty stunned by and am still mulling over “Milk” Whatever you think of the homosexual issue, it’s an astonishing movie. I have a feeling a whole lot of people, 20 years from now on a thread like this one, will end up listing “Milk,”

  28. @Eugene-
    Good Will Hunting was great. I was just thinking about that movie after reading Gladwell’s, Outliers.

    @All of you who loved The Passion of the Christ
    Please tell me more. I’m trying to figure out what I missed…why did some of you absolutely love it, while I didn’t get much out of it.

  29. @Charles-you are one of the only people that I have come across that knows”The Ghost and The Darkness”, let alone likes it. A stunning film about facing your challenges and fears head on.

    Another Val Kilmer film, “Thunderheart”-2 themes-better understanding of some of the suppresion of Western Plains Native American Nations, and you can’t run from who you are.

    “Steel Magnolias”-Having grown up with strong women, I identify with the women and their relationships. Finally caved in and bought the DVD last year when my 10+ yr old video tape wore out 🙂 Also, some great one-liners 🙂

    “In My Country”-justice, hate, mercy, forgiveness. What would have happened here in the US, if we had something like the Truth and Justice Commissions? Did they suceed given the rise of racial violence in S.A.? Ultimately, the power of our stories.

    “The Passion of Christ”-Donte, to address your question above from my perspective: I started attending church was I was 5, so I don’t really remember a time when I was not hearing scripture on a regular basis. Now, 30 years later, I am aware that all too often, I become comfortable with scripture. While there were pieces of the film that were tied to church tradition (i.e. St. Veronica giving Christ her veil to wipe his face), much of it showed me the physical, psychological and spiritual violence that Christ surrendered to on behalf of the world, on behalf of me, in a way that I had either not understood nor was willing to imagine before. I can no longer read the gospels and much of the prophets the way I did before. For me, it was a teaching aide through art(that sounds so placid, but I cannot think of another way to put it at the moment), much like a sculpture or a piece of music, another way of seeing outside of written or spoken word.

  30. Missed one-“We were soldiers”-Speaking as a military spouse, for the first time, I felt a “war movie” got it right about the struggles of being the family left behind, as well as what the soldiers themselves go through. Although it was Vietnam era, soldiers’ families across the centuries have much in common.

  31. I will de-lurk too.

    Amelie – The quirky-ness helped me see the everyday magic in my own life
    Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events – It tells me everything works out good in the end

    and then pretty much any war movie – Shows you the immense sacrifice and courage that soldiers and their families show in the darkest of times. We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan,

    Crash – showed me the racism in my own heart

    Hotel Rwanda – another film showing the sheer courage of a human heart

  32. @jeff lam: jeff!!! congratulations on your wedding last weekend. sorry we couldn’t make it. i heard it was great. post some pics!

    @tom: i’ve heard great things about MILK. looking forward to it…

    @pjchris: i’ve seen ghost and the darkness. didn’t particularly like it but saw it.

    More keep coming to mind esp. with people’s reminders:

    ‘Crash’ for sure.
    ‘Do the Right Thing’ by Spike Lee kept the entire theater audience absolutely silent when the film ended. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen that happen.
    ‘Taekukgi’ – for the simple reason that it’s the Korean version of Saving Private Ryan. Cried way too much in both of these films.
    ‘Joyluck Club’ – hate to admit it but cried after I got home since i didn’t want my friends to see me crying at the theater.

    How about ‘Chariots of Fire?’

  33. So many great pictures mentioned…

    I absolutely loved many of these films others have mentioned, including The Joy Luck Club, Crash, Do the Right Thing, Blood Diamond, The Constant Gardner, and many others.

    Mine, though, is primarily for one scene. I definitely enjoyed this movie overall (it still claims my personal record of number of times seen while still in the theaters — five) and while it makes sense demographically because this movie was a defining one of its genre, there was just one moment in the movie where I felt like my life was so aligned with the plight of the main character, and I was touched in a very, very personal way.

    I am, of course, talking about The Muppets Take Manhattan.

    Just kidding.

    I’m talking about The Matrix.

    There’s a moment where Neo, still existing as Thomas Anderson, is riding in the back of a sedan, on his way to meet Morpheus, who will eventually reveal his true nature to him. But Neo gets freaked out, and he wants out of the car, and as the door is open, with Neo ready to flee, Trinity says to him,

    “You’ve been down that road before, Neo. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.”

    Having struggled for many years with many struggles of the heart and the flesh, that line resonated so strongly with me. Yes, I have the freedom to choose, but what’s the point of choosing the same things that have gotten me nowhere?

    From that point on, I was SO locked in to the movie. All the rest of the kung fu and gunplay and psychobabble was just icing on the cake.

  34. @jelani: i could picture matrix with another NEO but for MORPHEUS, i can’t picture anyone else except laurence. he was that good.

    @joyluck club fans:

    that one line still cracks me up about the white boyfriend and “all it needs is a little soy sauce.”

    and this one still gives me goosebumps:

    “All around this house I see the signs. My daughter looks but she does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces. It’s not too late. All my pains, my regrets, I will gather them together. My daughter will hear me calling, even though I’ve said no words. She will climb the stairs to find me. She will be scared because at first her eyes will see nothing. She will feel in her heart this place where she hides her fears. She will know I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.”

  35. Star Wars of course. This movie was very influential. It was the movie that my dad and I could see together and talk about and just be excited about.

    Lost Boy’s. I don’t know why, but I do love Kiefer. this movie scared my and totally blew me away. I won’t watch it now as i think I may see it as cheesy, but it will stand in my mind as one of the coolest movie ever.

    Pulp Fiction. I saw this movie during my first year of YWAM. I really loved it, not so much the brutal, uncalled for violence, but just the dialogue, the fact that so many people had their career relaunched out of it and just the dialogue and soundtrack.

  36. This has been a great read. Lots of good movies that I had forgotten, some that I haven’t seen. This year I watched movies from a couple of lists: Christianity Today’s 10 Top Redeeming Films of 2007. My favorites from that list were “The Diving Bell and Butterfly” (already reviewed above) and “Lars and the Real Girl.” I would have never watched “Lars” had I not been a little ocd about seeing every movie on the list. It was fabulous! I was moved as I saw the church (and the town) learning to love and care for Lars. Many interesting relational lessons in this movie.

    I also have checked out a few movies from Eugene Cho’s Top Korean Film list. 🙂 I watched “Sassy Girl” with a friend and we loved it. I realized there was an American version and watched it a couple of weeks later. The Korean version is so much better!

    “The Way Home” was a wonderful story. Everyone should see it.

    I have “Tae Guk Gi” checked out from the library and may get my husband to watch it with me tonight.

  37. i love the movie Pay It Forward. starred by kevin spacey and helen hunt, forget the name of the kid.

    nwei, its just so amzing how we can bless others. it really struck me. i learned that wat we give we receive. and yes its true that God blessed us to bless others.

    isnt so amazing?

  38. Babel: Great exploration of how globally connected humanity is and how powerfully complex and alike we all are.

    Dummy: An indie film acted out by Adrian Brody that gives a poignant display of loneliness and it’s effects on people. Also, has a great message on the power of genuine friendship…somethig we all long for.

    The Sea Inside: a Javier Bardem film that is both beautiful and very difficult to watch as it deals with the human struggle of a quadriplegic fighting for the rights of assited suicide. Very moving film!

  39. Running with scissors. Just kidding… I think you’ll be fine without that one.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Zoolander. I’d say 25% of all jokes told in my high school were from that movie. I recently enjoyed the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire” – a movie of a boy from the slums of India, whose story is told rather artistically through the framework of a game show.

  40. @Jenny, I also like “Lars and the Real Girl”, plus I think I only paid a buck.

    A Beautiful Mind: great story about handling mental illness and medications and the support of a loving family

    Same night watched “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Elizabethtown” both good in their own way, especially in showing different family dynamics

  41. KOYAANISQATSI (1982) (Hopi) [n] 1. crazy life 2. life out of balance 3. life disintegrating 4. life in turmoil 5. a way of life that calls for another way of living.

    This is a film to be experienced. I was a freshman in college when I saw this 26 years ago. Utterly moving and done completely without dialogue. I can still hear the music (by Philip Glass), see the images, and feel the gut-wrenching impact of its message … which is all the more appropos today, a quarter of a century later.

  42. [de-lurking here]

    Gone, Baby, Gone. Fiance and I talked about it for hours afterwards. Ditto on whoever made the comment about ethics — Cramer I think. I still wrestle with that.

    Friday Night Lights. Vivid portrayal of the power of sports, a great glimpse at redemption – I man-cry (hide teary eyes) every time I watch the scene of the fullback’s dad putting the ring on his finger after they lose. Boobie Miles’ collapse is a devastating look at the “pride before a fall” verse in addition to a jarring reminder that sports aren’t everything, especially when they’re gone. The movie works on a lot of levels, but you have to want to see them.

    Troy. For some reason. Not real sure. I think if it weren’t such a well-known legend then it would be a much more powerful film.

    The Dark Knight. I didn’t want to mention a comic book adaptation, but the message is awesome in this movie. Batman – the symbol of hope for Gotham, the man whose only rule was to not kill – became the killer, the hunted, to preserve the image of a man gone mad, for the sake of Gotham’s sanity. Has metaphorical Christian undertones.

    Other good ones – Legends of the Fall, Matrix Trilogy, Lord of the Rings.

    Legends of the Fall.

  43. Another chance to de-lurk and be one of the cool kids!

    Crash: Made me bawl… and I usually am the cold-hearted kid who never cries at movies.
    It’s A Wonderful Life: This is one of those that never gets old, and it always hits me at the end about how precious life is.
    The Sound of Music: My favorite movie, but it’s one of those that you just love and never think about the deep implications or moral of the story until years later because the movie is so familiar to you. It has a lot to say about the Christian life that I never realized until recently.
    I love National Treasure and 27 Dresses because they’re so much fun, but they both have a lot to say about authority and belief [National Treasure] and how we try to find approval and worth in other people [27 Dresses]. Also loved Gattaca for the questions it raises after seeing it in biology,
    As it is December, Elf is hilarious.

    Thanks for posting this, Eugene… it is so much fun to talk about books and movies 🙂

  44. Mystic River… I have never cried that much after a movie. I was sick to my stomach for hours with the incredible injustice of it all. The deep horrifying pain of human existence and the all the ways we hurt each other. I will never watch it again, but it definitely impacted me.

    I’m also a big fan of Good Will Hunting. I love the idea that we can continue to help people out of our own pain and suffering.

    I watched Dogma recently and despite its vulgarity, I was really intrigued with the ideas about faith, good vs. evil, and God’s sovereignty. It reminded me of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (sorry, that’s a book not a movie).

    Oh, and Before Sunset–lots of interesting ideas about life and love and what it takes to really live, not just exist.

  45. although i was already interested in science fiction when Star Wars came out, that movie really brought out my passion for the genre. it’s been 25 years since i first saw that movie but my love of sci-fi has not wavered. i do have to mention two other movies: The Matrix and Contact. The Matrix because it was a fascinating story line and had some wickedly great special effects. stuff i’d never, ever seen before! i mention Contact because of the opening sequence showing the far reaches of space. it always reminds me how beautiful and wondrous the universe is — and how little we know of it! (p.s. i found you via john smulo and blog comment day)

  46. Another lurker…

    Eugene, such a “male” list 🙂

    Here are some that come to my mind:
    Out of Africa
    It’s a Wonderful Life
    Chariot’s of Fire
    Gone With the Wind
    Chocolat (2000)
    The Spitfire Grill
    Grapes of Wrath

    and two of the best, which are not mentioned yet:
    A River Runs Through It
    Enchanted April

  47. In a more spiritual sense, two movies that been impacting in my life are:

    To End All Wars

    These are not the normal movies that usually make the list, but they are incredibly impactful. If you have not seen them, you need to. Soo good.

  48. The Painted Veil- with Edward Norton (an amazing picture of love)

    Brazil- a Terry Gilliam film, an epic masterpiece

    On The Waterfront- a great film all around

    The Mission- I got a Jesuit education, and contrasting De Niro’s role with Iron’s role would make a great examination of peace studies. Plus Fr. Daniel Barrigan S.J. is an extra (a hero of mine)

    The Wind That Shakes The Barley- A brilliant film about two brothers in the Irish Ciivl War, I cried my eyes out.

  49. Marvins Room, Lorenzos oil, I am Sam, Simon Birch, Amy: All taught me more about the importance of respect, the value of life, the preciousness of a human being, however ifferent

    Ben Hur: it is a classic!


    Schindlers List

    Les Miserables

  50. WOW…so many good movies represented here. I’ll throw mine in the pot:

    Clear & Present Danger

    I’ve always been fascinated by Jack Ryan, the hero of the Tom Clancy books/movies. And while I wouldn’t say this whole movie is moving in the same way, there was one scene where I cried like a baby. I had to stop the film.

    Remember where (SPOILER ALERT!) Jack & Clark fly into the Columbian jungle to find members of the black ops team that had been stranded and ambushed, simply becaus e some politicians were lying and trying to cover their tracks. They fly to where the soldiers were attacked and find the telltale signs of the ambush, (dead bodies and the like), when the sole remaining member of the team, the team sniper, confronts them. He had been watching them with his scope and could have killed them if he wanted to. But he didn’t. What he wanted to do was punish the people that did “this” to him and his team. He runs up and begins beating Clark with his hands saying, “You did this to us. You left us with no air support at all. You hung us out to dry.” Jack Ryan jumps and pulls the sniper off of Clark with the words, “stop son. Stop. It’s not his fault, its not his fault.” When the sniper hears those words, he stops and turns and all his anger, frustration, and venom are pointed at Ryan when he yells…”well who’s fault is it?”

    Here comes the moment:

    And Ryan simplys says, “its my fault.”

    I cried because God is not at fault for the violent, death, and sin in our world. We are. And in my personal life, I had been blaming Him for the death of my nephew, and wasn’t doing well at all. But God, took it upon himself to make His own way into my world, at his own risk, flew a copter down into the Columbian jungle of sinful humanity, and took responsibility for sin, and not without personal sacrifice either. Jack Ryan did it cause it was the right thing to do. Jesus did it, because he loves us (me).

    That hit me at that moment, and I was a mess. Tears and snot. Nuff said. Praise God.

  51. Lean on Me and Dangerous Minds pop into my mind here.

    Those two movies showed me that there is hope in the midst of terrible circumstances if you can find one person who believes in the next generation.

    The Pursuit of Happyness is also an encouraging movie of triumph over a tough situation.

    I guess I like the movies that, when I leave, make me feel like I can make a difference in the world, even though I am only one person.

  52. Life is Beautiful

    Am amazing story from a jewish film maker that shows us how to defeat the horrors of the world like the holocaust, through hope, laughter, and self sacrifice. It inspires me to know that in an a depraved world – hope wins.

  53. i guess it’s time to come out of the shadows.

    not a comprehensive list by any means…

    hard for me to believe that memento hasn’t been mentioned. at the risk of revealing too much about the film… i believe it’s a good reminder that all humans are capable of evil. also in film-making terms, the structure of the film blew me away.

    pulp fiction. turned me to tarantino and the rest of his work. and as someone mentioned, it’s his dialogue that’s really makes his films. i’ll admit, though, the violence draws my attention, more cause it’s cool in the hyper-realistic, comic book sense than the fact that i actually enjoy seeing things like that happen. i think this is a whole different discussion, so i’ll move on…

    thank you for smoking. left me feeling like i could spin anything the way i wanted if i really set my mind to it.

    lilya 4 ever. my first invitation into the dark world of human trafficking beyond its facts and figures. played an important part in first getting me to respond to the issue. for those interested, be aware that it’s a russian film and to my knowledge, it’s hard to find a region 1 copy of the dvd.

    good will hunting. i like to pretend that it’s my life story 😛

    roman holiday. my generation can have their jessica albas, scarlett johanssons and megan foxes. i ❤ audrey.

    little miss sunshine. encouraged me to view the upside of the imperfections that exists in me and in others. our imperfections makes us vulnerable and when we begin to be vulnerable, we can begin to be truly intimate.

    also, there is a small circle of movies known between myself and some close friends that we always say is required viewing in order to understand us because we quote them so much–braveheart, rounders, the wedding singer, swingers and tombstone.

  54. The Green Mile – great story of someone being used by God who no one dreams is possible of doing good…

    Tombstone – influenced me to have those style tuxes at my wedding (true enuf!)

    Breakin’ – influenced me to dance!!!

    The Christmas Story – influenced me to shoot Black Bart

    Christmas Vacation – influenced me to never have all my family stay for Christmas

  55. Ethnic Notions (the history of black racist images)
    In Whose Honor? (native american symbols in pop culture)
    Life and Debt (the negative side of globalization)

    The Little Mermaid (gave me a joy of swimming)

  56. I watched movies from 2 lists this year: Christianity Today’s Top 10 Redeeming Films of 2007, and Eugene Cho’s Top Ten Korean Films. 🙂 Favorites from those two lists:

    The Diving Bell and Butterfly (excellent movie, reviewed above)

    Lars and the Real Girl (LOVED the message of learning to love and accept others both in families and in communities.)

    The Way Home (Oh man, this is a priceless film.)

    Sassy Girl (Korean version is SO MUCH better than American version! I still laugh when I think of the train scene and the poor old man!)

    Some ALL TIME favorites…

    Little Women (Wynona Ryder version)
    While You Were Sleeping (most quoted film in our family! “Do I like jello?”)
    Roman Holiday
    Anne of Green Gables (and Anne of Avonlea – all 8 hours of them!)

  57. My most influential…..

    Blow – the commentary on mistakes people make, and the things that they lose as consequence

    Dead Presidents – again, showing the cycles people get caught up in, and how circumstances beyond their control lead to the hard choices they are faced with

    Do the Right Thing – this film really made me think about how deeply embedded our prejudice can be, but at the same time it really illustrates the singularity of the human experience

    if by chance you haven’t seen any of these, i would recommend taking a look….

  58. The Big Lewbowski: funny movie, that highlights someone even more lazy than myself. Also one of my most quoted movies ever. “Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

    Unforgiven: critique of the western, made by one of the greatest western icons ever. Has interesting things to say about violence as well.

    Rudy: first movie that made me cry.

  59. Life is Beautiful! What a powerful picture of a father’s care for his son by protecting him from realities he could never understand–no one really could.

  60. Whoa! There were some really good ones here…
    A few for sure:
    Moulin Rouge- I absolutely loved Luhrman’s musical genius in this film. In addition, the talents of Kidman and McGregor are pleasantly surprising. This movie just gave me such a cathartic experience.

    Gone Baby Gone- This film definitely raises ethical questions. In the end, when the mother just so flippantly left her daughter to go out, it ripped my heart out and left me emotionally drained for hours afterward. I teach middle school and could certainly see the faces of some of my students through this portrayal.

    The Last King of Scotland- Forest Whittaker was amazing in this film; the way he captured Idi Amin’s cruelty was Oscar worthy. This film provided a glimpse into the debauchery of governments in developing countries.

    Moll Flanders- There are a few adaptations of Defoe’s novel, but the one with Morgan Freeman and Robin Wright Penn is the most noteworthy. The sense of self that Moll possesses reflected in this film is a true testament to indomitable spirits everywhere.

  61. @ Jim Chen – yes, Sliding Doors is so wonderful. It released me (a bit) from all (well, most) of my what-iffing, reminding me that what will happen *will* happen.
    Totally agree with all who list Lars, Pursuit of Happyness & Gone Baby Gone
    Amazing Grace – Added true poignancy to the song for me.
    Zefferelli’s Romeo & Juliet – turned me on to Shakespeare many years before it was required reading
    Avalon – beautiful movie that follows three generations of a family here in the US. The not-so-subtle subtext of what television has done to family life is especially convicting.

  62. Been lurking for a while….

    My list (in no particular order)

    Stand and Deliver
    Freedom Writers
    Amazing Grace
    Pursuit of Happyness
    Spider-Man (“With great power, comes great responsibility”)
    Invisible Children
    Remember the Titans
    Schindler’s List

    One I can’t wait to see; Seven Pounds. That looks amazing.

  63. Sid & Nancy. Introduced me to punk rock and blew my mind.
    Fight Club. I don’t even know what to say. I think the “I don’t give a shit about anything” attitude rocked my world.

  64. Anne of Green Gables – learned it was okay to be a nerdy ambitious girl since you still got the dude in the end. lol It may take awhile, but if you focus on the things you believe you are supposed to do in life, it will eventually happen. :o)

    It’s A Wonderful Life (cry every time I see the people coming to help George Bailey in the end), You Can’t Take It With You, White Christmas (Particularly the part where they put on the performance for the retired general. Reminds me to value the lives and stories of those who’ve been on this earth a lot longer than I have!)

    Imitation of Life – no matter what I was watching before, if I catch the funeral scene of this movie I always cry!!! Reminds me of the struggle “biracial” people have faced for centuries due to the unconventional constraints society places on race.

    Roots – reminds me of how far humanity has come in such a short period of time, but also how far we have to go.

    Last Holiday (w/ Queen Latifah…random, I know! lol) – reminds me to not wait until a life or death situation comes about to pursue my dreams.

    And last but not least…………….

    The Mighty Ducks (all three…well really just the first 2) – Helped point out that most people who are working with kids are screwed up and the experience can benefit them just as much as it benefits the kids.

  65. Changeling

    – This movie really moved me. I got very emotional while watching this. The way women were treated in the 20’s was horrible. I never realized it was so bad back then, and I never realized how corrupt the police were. They abused their power, and did anything to make themselves look good. This is a movie that makes you realize they arnt just made for entertainment, but to tell peoples story, relive history, and to open peoples minds and show them what the world is/was really like. Movies like this get peoples heads out of the clouds and gives them a good dose of reality.

    Nightmare Before Christmas

    – Tim burtons movies are so artistic, creative, and unique. No one makes movies like him. Nightmare before xmas, was the first movie I fell in love with, it intorduced me to stop motion, and the man I admire most. Because of Tim Burton, I want to be a director. He has really changed how I view movies, and has made me appreciate the creative process and hard work put into films. Its not easy to come up with something completely original, something that really takes you to a whole other world.

  66. Star Wars, because it showed me the power of cinema. It was the first film I saw that took miniatures and turned them into giant battle ships. Not to mention the whole new Universe opened up with Star Wars is what really inspired me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s