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Topic: Philosophical Analysis of a Film or Novel


Write a critical essay to identify the major philosophical ideas or themes in a contemporary film, play or novel. Your assignment is to analyze the work (ergo, i.e.-film, play, novel) from a philosophic perspective, do not to give a rundown on the film. Boring!!!

What are the major philosophical ideas in the film, how do those ideas affect us in the present and how are those ideas pertinent to the experience of studying and practicing philosophy? What story is the filmmaker or the writer telling and how does the philosophic message sit with you? This is the way to focus on the task of writing the paper. You are explaining the creative intent in this piece of work and identifying the philosophical meaning.

For example, in the movie Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino, one of the protagonists, Samuel Jackson, who plays the character, Jules, is looking for redemption and for a way out of his “way of life.” He faces a moment of truth in a restaurant where he lines up his belief in the power of “the word” (logos) with his actions to avert a bloodbath during a robbery by a couple of petty criminals. In a strange way, he acts as a peacemaker and opens up a door for him to walk into a future that has not been determined by his past.
…in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”…John 1:1…
List of Movies
Recommended by Christos for their Philosophical Value. 2018

Apocalypse Now
The Thin Red Line
Vanilla Sky
In The Bedroom (Maine)
Billy Elliot
Zorba the Greek
American Beauty
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Black Robe
The New World
Shakespeare in Love
A Man for All Seasons
Schindler’s List
The Seventh seal
Wild Strawberries
8 ½ -Fellini
Leaving Las Vegas
Babette’s Feast
Sophie’s Choice
Bridges of Madison County
Road to Perdition
A Clockwork Orange-not because I liked it, but because I remember it so vividly, it unnerves me.
Ulysses’ Gaze
On the Waterfront
Splendor in the Grass
East of Eden
A Beautiful Mind
Viva Zapata
To Kill A Mockingbird
The God Father, 1, 2, 3.
Midnight Cowboy
The Graduate
High Noon.
Born on the Fourth of July
The Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis
The Boxer, Daniel Day Lewis
In the Name of the Father (1993), Daniel Day Lewis
The Deer Slayer
The English Patient
The Horse Whisperer
The Natural
Out of Africa
Lawrence of Arabia
Doctor Zhivago
The Age of Innocence
Cool Hand Luke
The Hustler
Cat on Hot Tin Roof
Sweet Bird of Youth.
The Matrix
The Pianist
The Gray Zone
The Hours
Derrida-a documentary. (we are seeing parts of this film in class)
Cold Mountain
Mystic River-Clint Eastwood.
Something’s Got to Give.
The Passion of the Christ
What the Bleep
The Ballad of Jack and Rose
The Squid and the Whale
The Corporation
Good Night and Good Luck
Walk the Line (I have not seen, but I own a copy)
Time to Kill
The History of Violence
Eastern Promises
A Dangerous Method
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Match Point
The Big Blue
The Sea Inside
The Illuionist-nothing is what it seems.
Shattered Glass
Stranger Than Fiction
The Departed-Scorsese
Michael Clayton
The Lives of Others
There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day Lewis
Gran Torino
Slum Dog Millionaire
Wendy and Lucy (I have not seen)
Yes Man (I have not seen)
I loved You So Long
The Class
The Reader
The Visitor
Revolutionary Road (I have not seen)
Rachel Getting Married
A Serious Man
A Prophet
I Am Love
True Grit
Tree of Life
Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton’s)
The Adjustment Bureau
Margin Call
The Descendents
The King’s Speech
Zero Dark Thirty
Side Effects
Life of Pi
The Separation (Iranian)
The Sessions
The Company You Keep
Captain Phillips
A Hijacking (Danish) same idea as Captain Phillips with a different negotiation approach.
Thank You for Smoking
Twelve Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
The Judge
Gone Girl
All is Lost
The Imitation Game
American Sniper
Starred Up
Far from the Madding Crowd
Still Alice
The Theory of Everything.
Ex Machina
Rush, a Ron Howard film
Irrational Man
House of Cards (a Netflix Series)
Occupied (a Netflix Series)
The Crown (a Netflix Series)
The People versus Fritz Bauer-German-about finding Adolf Eichmann
Money Monster
The Hunt (Danish) competed at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival
Our Kind of Traitor
Fences-Denzel Washington
The Arrival
Manchester by the Sea
The Silence
The Zoo Keeper’s Wife
The Lobster
Wind River
Darkest Hour, Churchill
The Post
The Crown-NetFlix Series
Molly’s Game
3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
All the Money in the World
Phantom Thread
Handmaiden’s Tale, HBO series
The Killing of the Sacred Deer
On Chesil Beach
Operation Finale-about finding Adolf Eichmann

See Additional Note, below.

I call to your attention two interesting books on the power of film by a contemporary philosopher, Colin McGinn. The books are: The Power of Movies, How Screen and Mind Interact, Pantheon, 2005, Mindsight, Image, Dream, and Meaning, 2004.

PS-As you may have heard me say, this list of films contains titles that I know have a philosophic intention, i.e, they get you to think or to see some aspect of life that will generate more understanding “about what it is all about.” There may be others that you have seen that you think have informed you about life’s meaning. I am open to your thoughts about a choice of a film, but I expect you to consult with me about it.

©Christos J. Gianopoulos, 2018


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