There are various films that will motivate you to become a better person. When these types of films are mentioned, they tend to be unsurprising choices. Works like “The Pursuit of Happyness” are frequently mentioned as being films with great life lessons.
While those types of mainstream movies serve to entertain and educate seamlessly, there are other films where the lessons aren’t so obvious. The “lessons” may be slightly obscured by the reputation the film has developed. Here are 10 great films that will make you a better person; they range from classic films to underrated movies.
1. Salesman (1969)
This is a fantastic documentary by the legendary Maysles brothers that surprisingly still holds up when you watch it today. Salesman is a look into the world of door-to-door sales, and the men that will do anything to make a dollar. It’s almost like an older brother of the film Glengarry Glen Ross, except what we see here is all real.
Door-to-door sales may not be something that is very prevalent anymore, but the film really gives us a glimpse into how cynical business and consumerism can be at the ground level. Salesman pulls off two things very well: it may be a source of inspiration if you work in a sales type of job, and it simultaneously reminds you how careful you need to be as a consumer. When you watch Salesman and see how easily customers can be taken advantage of, you’ll never look at shopping the same way again.
2. Unforgiven (1992)
Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Western film from the 90s has received almost an endless amount of praise. It is considered one of the best Westerns ever made, with Eastwood taking everything he learned from previous filmmakers he worked with (specifically Sergio Leone, and Don Siegel) and putting it to good use.
For the purpose of this list, the reason Unforgiven is being included is because of its reputation as an intelligently subversive Western. Specifically, the way the film handles the loss of life is particularly fresh. In the average Western, murder and revenge are concepts that are not given that much consideration on a deeper level beyond a shoot-out scene.
Unforgiven serves as a thoughtful response to those films; it may be one of the few times we’ve seen characters in the American frontier reflect on the nature of what they have done. This film really illustrates the idea that actions have consequences.
3. 12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men is a classic film that tells the story about a jury trying to decide whether or not someone is innocent or guilty. It’s a simple premise that doesn’t need more than one major location to make it work.
With strong writing and powerful performances, Sidney Lumet’s film does a marvelous job at showing us what prejudice looks like at its most basic form. When one man in the jury becomes outspoken about the defendant being guilty, his own biases become clear.
12 Angry Men shows viewers how our personal lives and baggage can potentially get in the way of the choices we make in life. We can be downright incorrect about something, and we’d never know because of self-awareness (or lack thereof).
4. Amelie (2001)
Amelie is a flawless combination of elements from different movies. On one hand it functions well as a lighthearted romantic comedy, but it also has serious undertones. This dynamic leads to Amelie being one of the most charmingly original films about seeing the extraordinary in everyday life.
Aside from its great performances and magical cinematography (CGI is utilized in a tasteful way), one of the key aspects of the film is its unwillingness to become too burdened by its darkness. Amelie is a character that has every reason to be miserable, but instead she has chosen to react to the cruelties of life with kindness.