I've watched plenty of movies in my lifetime so far. I'll watch even more, I'm sure of it. What I am positive of at the moment are that impacts the following movies have had on me which have stuck in my memories and maintained prominent inspirations. These are not all the movies which have inspired me.
I'm sure there are others which will and have that I have not included in this list. As I remember them or see them for the first time I will add them here. I hope you get as much inspiration and or enjoyment out of them as I continue to
Star Wars: A New Hope & The Empire Strikes Back
As a child I loved a lot of different things. I have many great memories of things that I wouldn't part with because of my childhood imagination. Unfortunately, as I aged and began to have thoughts that drifted from the authority of my parents, especially my father, I grew fearful of him and his anger at my growth.
I felt unjustly ridiculed and punished for trying to be me. I wasn't able to comprehend then what I can now so I escaped into a world of fantasy and adventure where the rules could be broken with courage and reinforced with a little knowledge. It was my escape to delve into such a world where no one could hurt me. And it was here that I began to learn about justice, morality, and courage.
Here is where I began to subconsciously learn the art of debate by listening to the banter between villain and hero; between almost hero and almost villain and all hero and all villain. Eventually by reading the back stories of the characters I began to identify with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. I knew well the relationship between Luke and his Aunt and Uncle, yet wished I could be that comfortable around my own parents as he was his adopted parents.
I remember well when this movie was televised, on NBC if I remember correctly. I loved it. It inspired me to try to do wondrous things and find love. It reinforced into me the idea that with knowledge comes some courage but with courage comes the ability to find knowledge.
Both play off of one another but one is needed to give rise to the other, as far as I am concerned. I was but a boy of 17 or 18 years when this movie crossed my path. And today I still enjoy it. I see so many statist ideas and so much underlying support for the idea of government in this film but in the end the hero, Merlin, recognizes his mistakes and simply stops trying to justify intervening into the lives of others without their consent.
It was a message that took me another 10 plus years to realize. Although, back then I was still rebelling against my father and today we rarely speak. It doesn't have to be this way but one of us is continually justifying acts of aggression to ensure my well being.
But truth be told: Is it really for my well being that I be controlled or his piece of mind? I am willing to wager that it is the latter and he has yet to come to terms that I am a different man with different ideas and different lessons learned.
What Dreams May Come
I watched this film for the first time in theaters when it came out. I watched it with my best friend at the time. I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't really understand it all that much when I saw it.
I grasped the concept of the plot but none of it made sense to me. I hadn't truly loved by then and didn't know what it meant to love. While my mother told me that she loved me all the time as a child, I can't recall ever telling her that I loved her. I don't recall my father telling me that at all.
Today as a man who has loved a woman, adopted a daughter, and grown apart with his wife to now be great friends I can honestly say I understand this movie. As a child it got me thinking about different possibilities of the afterlife but not much else. As I understand this movie today I am emotionally moved and taken off guard by the possibilities of all of the 'what ifs' concerning my philosophical positions and those of others who justify unwarranted acts of aggression.
All could be lost and I would be ruined. Truthfully, I don't have much left to lose upon writing this passage as far as I can tell. My philosophy has seemingly isolated me from all I thought loved me but two.
The Shawshank Redemption
This movie holds a particularly special place in my mind and heart. While I've never read the book its based off of, the film was a tremendous spark for my mind.
I watched bits and pieces of this film for probably five or six years on television before I ever figured out what it was. Then I immediately went out to a store to purchase a copy of dvd. It's a tremendous story that shows so many wonderful things.
It instilled in me a revitalization of hope, friendship, brotherly love, and perseverance. I clung to this movie for a very long time. It showed me a crack, a flaw, in the system that my father revered so much and hated equally. I never watched this film with him; but I did watch it with my grandmother, his mother.
I don't recall what she thought about it but I remember her telling me that it was a good movie. I think it was the last movie I watched with her; some ten years before she passed away. This movie gave me hope and is still remembered. The Shawshank Redemption is the film that helped me understand The Count of Monte Cristo a couple of years later in 2002.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
This was a great film. I loved it. I connected with it and Edmund Dantes immediately. It will forever be a favorite of mine. And coincidentally I would find out years later that I wasn't alone in this sentiment.
When V for Vendetta came out it was all the rage because Natalie Portman shaved her head for that movie. I remember seeing articles about it in magazines along the checkouts t grocery stores. I never watch that film until later in life.
But the Count of Monte Cristo reinforced in me yet again the idea that hope comes from the possible 'what ifs' of success while failure, doom, and gloom come from the 'what ifs' of negativity. I began searching for my well of hope, for my 'center' as it is called in the film Rise of the Guardians.
Today I hold that 'center', that well of hope, and I haven't found anything to shake it yet. Many things slow it down; but only because I am not explaining my position properly. But when I do, there is no doubt that I am my own man.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
This is undoubtedly one of my favorite movies of all time. It also happens to be one that inspired a very unique kind of thought in me.
As each of the children succumbed to the lures of temptation in Wonka's factory the workers would sing and dance about the fate of the lost children. Each song was tailored specifically to the child's faults and where the faults came from.
In one song in particular that ridiculed Veruca Salt for being a brat and ill mannered directly called out her parents as the main culprits. I remember thinking at a young age, probably ten years old or so, how and what the things my parents do direct my own behavior.
Mind you that I didn't sit on that idea for long. My mind wondered but every once in a while when I would watch this movie I would be reminded. In fact other movies years later would rekindle that thought and aid me in understanding why I grew up the way I did; why I became the kind of man I am today; thus why I reject government.
Cider House Rules
This film was presented to me by a friend in college. It is a terrible shame that I treated that friend so poorly despite him being so kind. I did what I was taught to do to people by my parents; by my father.
I connected with this film because of the two main characters, Dr. Larch and Homer Wells. The Doctor being more in tune with what I wanted in my father and Homer being what I wish I could do if I wan't so stricken with the fear of reprisal from my father.
No he didn't beat me but was always quick to anger; and that anger did occasionally transcend into physical manifestations. That was enough fear to keep me was trying to be like Homer. Yes, I left home and defied my father by leasing a dorm room with my graduation money from high school.
But that is all I did. I quickly returned home at the end of the lease and succumbed to greater depths of fear. Finally I struck out again but returned. My experience in the world changed me and it was noticeable. My father showed some weak signed of recognition that I was not his to control anymore.
Unfortunately, the longer I stayed the more complacent he became and the more fear I had to endure because my experiences and knowledge were fading from memory. This film told me that sometimes we need to come back home and sometimes we need to stay away to grow.
For me it was to stay away. And for that I am both saddened and grateful. It's an odd mixture of emotion; but it was one that helped me to begin the journey to self discovery and truth; albeit 5-10 years after everyone else.
The Green Mile
This film made me realize that I have to think before I act. I have to try to take into consideration what I cannot readily ascertain. It is why I today try not to disown anyone and let them walk away from me; family included.
Emotionally and socially blinded a small community sends a man, or what they think is a man, to death row for a murder that he didn't do. This man turned out to be something different; something that was trying to save the murder victims, but all the community could see was rage and hatred and vengeance.
I remember that story every time someone does something that seems to blatantly disregard any respect for me despite no hostile or unwarranted acts of aggression on my behalf to theirs. People judge too quickly the actions of others without regard for the paths they walk.
This doesn't mean to just turn the other cheek so much as it means to be on guard enough concerning others to know when to engage in conflict and when to nullify it with logic.
V for Vendetta
In time I finally watched V for Vendetta. After years of unintentionally ignoring this movie I got around to watching it. My wife at the time suggested that I watch it because it is right up my alley. Little did I know she was right!
I put off watching it because I thought it was a lame superhero movie based on other things that I heard from reviews. I've since stopped listening to reviews and started to judge for myself.
V for Vendetta brought to me a speech that I still marvel at. The words in that speech to London ring so true that anyone half awake will realize their meaning and symbolism with today's governments. The eloquent speech, the marvelous use of words, and the wondrous conveyance of ideas by one individual, regardless of fiction or not, inspired me to put pressure on myself to follow through on a dream; to write.
While J.R.R. Tolkien is my original inspiration, V for Vendetta is the fire lit beneath my rump. And just as importantly, V conveys the concept that writers often use lies to tell the truth. And that is something else that brought a tremendous amount of inspiration to me.
This movie was apparently a huge flop in the theaters. People didn't like Kevin Costner or the story; but I do.
People sometimes say to me, "Jim, how can you like that movie? It's about restoring government!?"
And to these people I say: because it is about standing up for what is right. There is one scene in particular where Ford (Johnny) stands up to the mayor of Pine View. Ford managed to save some mail that would help people get news of loves ones and other information. This extremely important act of connecting people was lost on me then but what stuck with me was what Ford said to the Mayor that got the Mayor to let Ford go ahead with the mail.
Mayor: Take that damn shirt off Johnny.
Ford: I managed to save these. (letters that didn't burn after Bethlehem ordered a local to torch the post office.)
Mayor: Do you want to die too?
Ford: I'm headed south, with the mail!
Mayor: John! Don't be a fool!
Ford: What should I be?
That is what got me thinking. I didn’t' want to be what my father and society wanted me to be. I wanted to be what I wanted to be; but I didn't know what I wanted to be. Today I am a voice that wants to be heard. I am an author that wants to be read. I am a man who wants to be loved by a woman. And I am an individual who just wants to be free.
This film is an amazing work. I don't know many people who know of this movie, let alone any who get it.
But for me, I identified deeply with this movie. Ultimately it's about a father, his son, their relationship and how it affected the son until his death many decades after his father's death. This movie brought back to me the lessons of Willy Wonka; but with a much, much deeper sentiment than the wisdom of a child.
The lessons taught by a parent stick with child for a very long time; often for the remainder of his or her life. The same is true for me thus far and is why I seek to remember them, correct the lessons, and teach what I've refined to my daughter.
I can't teach these lessons to my father. He is too set in his ways. But I can share them with others through my experiences and with luck change the world by aiding one more individual change for the better. But this lesson doesn't stop at father and son. Oh, no!
This lesson continues to how we treat others socially. What we learn from our friends and how they portray themselves different to the world than they do to those they love. This lesson is the basis of changing the world by changing yourself instead of changing the world by coercing change upon others.
I found this little gem by pure luck. It's about a small New England town during the War of Federal Aggression (American Civil War). Their community is split because of politics that seek to divide and conquer.
What amounts to the conservative party is a hard working businessman and his family who are chastised for not wanting the war or wanting to be responsible for aiding Lincoln and the Republicans war on the seceded Southern States.
"Let them go in peace," says Abner Beech.
"Save the Union," says Avery.
"Curse them all and damn them to hell," says Jee Hagadorn.
While these are fictional conversations they are true to the way things were done then, now, and will be done so long as people justify violating the consent of others to be governed at all. Abner Beech would have been a man likely to see reason a little more and a little more given time to evolve his character in additional movies.
Yet, like so many Libertarians today he clung to the idea of having to maintain a government at all without recognizing the truth about government and consent; that government rejects the consent of the governed to be governed at all without forcing them to accept being ruled or to leave outright, to flee.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I loved this movie for the same reason I came to love Perks of Being a Wallflower. While I identified with Perks of Being a Wallflower in terms of my high school and college years, I identify with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty today.
I'm secure in my own mind and know what it's like to be ridiculed for getting lost in my thoughts. Our minds are our own personal paradises. We are capable of such a very special freedom there yet so many don't take advantage of it.
I do and because so many ridicule me for sharing it in my youth I've grown to hide those details form the world. This is why only a very special and few people will get to ever witness that part of me again. This same sentiment can be found when people are extorted for their earnings. If the products of an individual's time, intellect, and labor are negatively valued then those products will become fewer and fewer to protect the individual from the negativity.
That creates scarcity, thus lessoning the ability of Humanity to maintain itself through trade and voluntary interactions which lead to shorter and fewer expansions of Humanity's pinnacles of success.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This movie is just a really big emotional and memory stirring event for me. My past wasn't comprised of the same trauma as Charlie's; but it holds very similar elements. The connection I hold with this particular story is far more powerful that most of the others.
Where Charlie seceded with his love interest I failed with mine. Where he found solitude and comfort with friends I found none and retreated to the inner sanctums of my mind. I could have had friends to bring me comfort but the contradictory philosophies I was taught by my father sabotaged that.
It took me 15 years almost to fix what wasn't taught correctly. I had teachers like Mr. Anderson. A math teacher and a physics teacher were my Mr. Andersons. But what this film did for me was to help me realize that I'm not alone in having difficult personal struggles.
By teaching myself critical thinking skills, regardless of using traditional methods or wildly unique means, I pulled myself up and scouted my landscape for less darker paths to take. I realized that even some of the well lit paths were just as dangerous as the unlit paths. Understanding my experiences by earning critical thinking skills is what saved me and this film helped me remember that and better explain it in so many words.