No one bothers questioning the norm until they are forced to do so. The following movies have mastered the art of using film as a creative medium to show us what our lives look like from the outside. Some uplifting, some extremely disheartening, these movies are important in that they bring awareness of our actions and force us to question what we consider a normal life. By society’s standard, every person should be chasing after individualistic success, stepping on anyone on their way up. With different themes, each film conquers a different problem ailing our society. Awareness is used as a tool to remind the audience to not be lead so blindly in their lives. Greed, materialism, the oppression of those with mental illness and the necessity of suffering are all themes used to demonstrate where society has taken a wrong turn so to speak.
The Truman Show is a glimpse into the amount of influence the media has on our subjectivity. The main character (Jim Carrey) is a man who has been on a reality show since birth, and everyone in the world knows, except for him. Every aspect of his life is carefully constructed by the production team. As the production team makes some detrimental mistakes the main character starts to catch on to what’s been happening behind the scenes and realizes his whole life is a lie. The movie takes into account how easy it is to take everything the media feeds us at face value. Unless we become informed about what is being fed to us, the media can become a dangerous medium.
“The things you own end up owning you.”- Chuck Palahniuk
This movie is a somewhat less-known indie movie that looks at greed in western culture. A couple finds a brass kettle that distributes money everytime one of them hurts themselves. The plot becomes a downhill slope where they are blinded by the prospect of wealth and continue to find more and more damaging ways to physically hurt themselves, while vowing to stop at 1 million dollars. The best part of this movie is the fact that these two are so unaware of what is going on and yet it is so obvious to the audience. It is a commentary on the greed that has become so normalized within our society, so much so that no one really questions it. The movie shows what is happening subtly in real life in a much more obvious approach to demonstrate what we are doing to ourselves when we succumb to materialism.
This movie is the ultimate mirror for what kind of society we live in today. The husband is suffering severe depression in a life he never signed up for, while his wife has turned into a woman who values material items and success well above her family. The “normal,” suburban family is seemingly picture perfect, putting on an act every time they step out the front door. It brings into perspective the suburban lifestyle and how easy it is to get caught up when trying to keep up with the Joneses. The movie takes an in-depth look into the façade we all display in public and the layers that are neglected underneath. The movie portrays the suburban lifestyle as an imprisonment disguised as normality. Each character is suffering in their own way, but absolutely refuse to deviate from the pressure of social norms.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Anyone who’s been through a painful breakup understands the desperation to rid their ex from any memory. It seems that every way you turn, something else reminds you of the person in question. This movie dissects what would happen if our wishes came true during this tough time, and that the person we had in mind was no longer a significant memory. It establishes suffering as an absolute necessity to a life well-lived. As the memories from the two main characters’ relationship start to get erased, they both realize that the great memories they had vastly outweighed the pain of the breakup. They realize that in the end their momentary happiness was worth it, even if it only lasted for a little while.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a must-watch for anyone battling mental illness. It looks at the ease of which people are admitted to mental institutions and the undertones associated with these institutions. In theory, the main goal of a mental institution is rehabilitation and to set the patients up for a well-lived life outside of its walls. However, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest demonstrates how the impact of society’s ideology of those in mental institutions can actually impact the patients more than their own mental illness. The main character comes in and shows them that although they are in a mental institution, they are not simply reduced to their illness, and that above all they are human beings with wants and needs. The movie shows the oppressiveness linked to these institutions and the effects it can have on those who suffer from mental illness. Society’s uncomfortability with these people has driven them further into insanity. The whole point of the movie is to establish how dangerous it is to reduce patients to their disabilities. It is a reminder of the multidimensionality of everyone, and how absolutely damaging it can be to reduce and judge people based on only one trait.