Although movies are generally considered a means of entertainment, many would agree that it goes beyond that. Throughout history, individuals have made films for different reasons; entertain, broadcast an opinion or point of view, or simply tell a story. A common thread among movies, however, is that movies are meant to evoke the emotions of audiences.
Although some films are extremely moving to watch, they deserve, perhaps for self-education or appreciation of the artistry of the filmmaker, our time and attention.
Holocaust is a French documentary film about the Holocaust (known as “Shoah” in Hebrew). The film consists of interviews with survivors, witnesses and perpetrators at Holocaust sites across Poland. Disturbing encounters and experiences have been told from every angle, and the revelations of these encounters will send shivers down your spine.
It took over 350 hours of raw footage and eleven years for the director Claude Lanzman to make the documentary due to financial problems and the time it took to find the interviewees. Lanzamann also faced death threats while making the documentary. In 2014, the British Film Institute (BFI) and Sight and sound conducted polls where critics voted Holocaust the second best documentary of all time.
“Schindler’s List” (1993)
Schindler’s list tells a harrowing yet heroic and true story during the Holocaust of World War II. After witnessing the atrocities of the Holocaust and the cruelty of SS officer Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes) randomly killing Jews from his balcony, business owner Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is deeply affected by his acts of brutality. He decides to take the risk of secretly employing 850 Jews as factory workers, so that they are not killed in the concentration camps built by Göth.
Schindler’s list gives an extract of the act of wickedness that the Jewish population experienced. Not only does this do his story justice, but it also gives the audience hope – hope that in the midst of all the evil in this world, kindness still endures.
“Requiem for a Dream” (2000)
Talk about a mentally draining movie: Requiem for a dream. The film gives an honest portrayal of addiction and the hardships a person will go through to be loved and accepted by others. As widow Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) develops a false belief that she will appear on national television, she becomes addicted to amphetamine as a dangerous source of rapid weight loss. Meanwhile, his son Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), with his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayan), fighting heroin addiction.
Requiem for a Dream educates its audience that actions will have consequences. What begins as a hopeful fantasy or escape can turn into an unhealthy obsession.
“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)
Set in Japan during World War II, the animated film the Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of a war drama. Teenager Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi) has to take care of her younger sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi) after an American arson attack, which causes the separation from their parents. The siblings navigate life through the means of survival while experiencing many things that threaten their well-being and hope.
the Grave of the Fireflies shows the emotional impact of war on people, especially children and adolescents. The film emphasizes the failures that a war was aimed at in the first place, which is to protect its own people. The harrowing semi-autobiographical film is one that will bring tears to your eyes but will surely bring empathy and honor to those who have suffered the effects of war.
“Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020)
Quo Vadis, Aida? which translates to “Where are you going, Aida?” is a Bosnian film that follows Aida (Jasna Đuricic, also the screenwriter, director and producer of the film), a teacher who also works as a translator for the UN in a small town called Srebrenica. Told through the eyes of a mother, Aida uncovers the events of the Srebrenica massacre led by a war criminal Ratko Mladic.
With an impressive 100% Rotten Tomatoes approval ratingthe film has certainly left an impression on the film industry and critics.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008)
The boy in the striped pajamas is based on the author’s 2006 novel John Boyne. Set in the Holocaust during World War II, audiences experience the injustices and horrors of a Nazi extermination camp through the perspectives of two eight-year-old boys, Bruno (Asa Butterfield) and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon). Despite their differences, Bruno is the son of a Nazi commander and Schmuel, a Jewish prisoner, they form a forbidden but comforting bond.
those who have seen The boy in the striped pajamas can collectively agree that it has one of the saddest and most tragic endings of all time. What makes the story so special is that while the adults focus on maintaining their boundaries, a beautiful friendship blossoms between two innocent boys who want a glimmer of happiness in a dark world.
“Come and See” (1985)
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking movies on the list, come and see, is the story of a young boy, Florya (Alexei Kravchenko), who, against his mother’s wishes, joined the resistance fighters after the German invasion of their village in Belarus.
come and see depicts the unthinkable cruelty of the Nazi regime and the suffering endured by many Eastern Europeans during this time. The film is praised for its effective use of realism, hyperrealism, and surrealism to enhance the atrocities of war.
Over seven hours and shot in black and white, Sátantango is a Hungarian film that depicts life after the fall of communism. In the middle of a failing collective farm, two villagers, Futaki (B. Miklos Székely) and Ms. Schmidt (Eva Almassy Albert) plan to steal other villagers’ money and run away on the eve of when large payments are due. However, things don’t go as planned when a former colleague, Irimiás (Mihaly Vig), who had been presumed dead, returns to the village with her friend Petrina (Putyi Horvath).
As the film spans over seven hours and consists of a series of long takes, as its title “tango” suggests, it is divided into twelve parts. The film does not move in chronological order and instead follows the course of action of the tango; six movements forward and six backwards, making a total of twelve.
Hereditary is a supernatural psychological horror film that brings a different approach to the horror genre. The film follows a family of four: Annie, Steve, Peter and Charlie Graham (Toni Collette, Gabriel Bryne, Alex Wolffand Milly Shapiro), who are haunted by a mysterious spirit after the death of their grandmother and later daughter, Charlie.
The Graham family is distraught and the family dynamic worsens. Over time, however, the family learns that it’s not so much about being unlucky, and they learn the grim secrets of their ancestry.
‘Waltz with Bashir’ (2008)
Written, directed and performed by an Israeli filmmaker Ari Fomanthe autobiographical animated film titled, Waltz with Bashir follows Folman as a nineteen-year-old infantry soldier during the 1982 war with Lebanon. The animated documentary focuses on Forman’s struggles with war and his hazy memories.
Folman experiences recurring nightmares of 26 angry dogs running towards his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. Bewildered by this, he shares his nightmare with an old friend, Boaz, who tells him that he and the other soldiers remember vividly that Folman was tasked with killing 26 dogs, as he was unable to shoot a human.
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