10 of The Best Philosophical films

1. Groundhog Day

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Phil’s character development is convincing largely because we can so easily believe the situation would force him to look inward. Because he loves such a sincere woman as Rita, the only way he can finally impress her is by genuinely changing himself rather than faking it. The change he undergoes isn’t an implausible leap, for he maintains many of the same basic character traits he had at the beginning, even though he becomes kinder and more caring. Earlier, Rita says that egocentrism is Phil’s “defining characteristic,” and, indeed, he doesn’t stop being egocentric at the end; he merely learns to channel the egocentrism in a positive direction.

2. Blade runner

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There is more to this film than just pulp. It works on so many remarkable levels. The movie itself is a detective noir quest for the meaning of life in a science fiction environment, but the story is a commentary on what it means to be human and the questions each one of us have about life, like: How long have I to live? Why do I have to die? What happens when I die? Doesn’t my maker care? Is this all merely an illusion? At the end of the film we are left to wonder if these Replicants are human, and if Deckard himself is in fact a Replicant. Scott raises more questions here than he answers, and as a result, critics are still debating the mysteries of this film today. In a sense, the ambiguity of Blade Runner is the culprit of its success.

3. Fight Club

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Fight Club is a brash slap in the face of consumerism and the working dead. It questions reality. It is strikingly thought provoking and visually stimulating. The movie highlights the vast emptiness of modern existence – ridden as it is with shallow values, rampant consumerism, empty of meaning, feeling and life itself- in a slick and ironically consumer oriented fashion. In a different vein from American Beauty, Fight Club explores the solutions to the veritable sleepwalking existence that plagues modern life.

4. I Heart Huckabees

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I Heart Huckabees can best be described as an existential comedy. We are taken into a comic existential journey in Russell’s created world where individuals (we?) ask questions and strive for answers. The refreshing intelligent humour is effectively intertwined within the screenplay, and the film tackles serious questions about life in its own lighthearted manner.

5. Donnie Darko

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Donnie Darko is a film about people who feel life and all the emotions within it very deeply. Donnie himself is a basically sweet-tempered young man, who is pathologically terrified of loneliness and the thought of spiritual isolation. His quest for meaning and self-discovery drives him to the fringes of our reality, which only serves to isolate him more from the world he loves. The few who understand what Donnie is going through, go largely unnoticed or unappreciated. The story is very much thought provoking. It.s the type of movie that leaves you pondering all the viewpoints presented by the characters.

6. Solaris

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The big question posed by the film is whether we are the sum of how we, and more importantly other people, remember us, or whether there’s more that defines our reality. Solaris is not a discussion upon ‘What Is Reality?’ rather it asks the question of what does it mean to be ourselves, and what is it about ourselves that is unique or even real? The planet Solaris becomes an artistic representation of the true Unknown, and the unknown is that state in which we all exist in, but in which we create forms of meaning to encapsulate the mystery of this moment within the illusion of the Known.

7. Dark City

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Dark City is splendid viewing injected with a theme about the loss of identity and the destruction of individualism in order to create an ideal society. The movie in itself is a brilliant commentary on our society as a whole which is displayed in the beginning with Dr. Schreber’s rat experiment in the lab, which comes to symbolize a smaller scale version of the strangers’ experiment for us, putting rats (humans) in a maze of a city (life) and seeing if they can find their way.

8. The Truman Show

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In the end this film is closer in spirit to psychological dramas and sci-fi movies where a person suddenly realizes they are the pawn in some grand experiment comparable to our current “reality TV” obsessed culture. It touches on a very basic conflict all humans must face – The universe does not revolve around us. In the closing moments we are excited for Truman because he finally realizes there is a whole new world out there to explore, but also slightly saddened because we know all to well that he will never be able to return to that idyllic “childhood” existence, and a loss of innocence.

9. Gattaca

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Gattaca takes place in the near future. It presents a future that is completely plausible and seems to be strangely familiar. In this future, genetic manipulation has become quite mainstream, leading many parents to choose the perfect traits for their children. These children have perfect features and no trace of birth defects. They are all intelligent and almost perfect. However, they are not the mindless robots coming off of an assembly line that you may picture…

10. The Matrix

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The Matrix centre’s on the idea that the real world is an illusion, and is riddled with specific references to philosophers who have entertained this idea. Although the films are meant to stand on their own and create their own set of philosophical questions, the Wachowskis pay homage to these precedents through both obvious and subtle references. Four of the most striking philosophical precedents for the Matrix trilogy are Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, Plato’s allegory of the cave, Socrates’ visit to the Oracle of Delphi, and the work of Descartes. The films refer to all four of these at various points.

 

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