8. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985)
Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader offered this non-judgemental biopic of Yukio Mishima, the widely acclaimed and controversial Japanese writer of the post war who committed a ritual suicide.
Instead of exploiting the speculation, Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters beautifully depicts Mishima’s life, beautifully interwoven with dramatizations of three of his famous novels, to present the picture of a man whose contempt for materialism led him to a form of fanatic extremism.
7. ‘night Mother (Tom Moore, 1986)
Set in a claustrophobic atmosphere, ‘night Mother follows Thelma Cates, a mother struggling to convince her daughter Jessie of overcoming the suicidal plans she has for the evening.
Thelma loves her daughter, but she finds it difficult to argue how there are alternatives other than suicide for Jessie’s desperate situation. Jessie is one of those characters Sissy Spacek was born to perform.
6. The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999)
Sofia Coppola’s first feature film is this intelligent and risky adaptation of the Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name.
The Virgin Suicides depicts the lives of five upper-class teen girls after the youngest one of them attempts to commit suicide. The film focuses on how the impact of a suicide attempt can drive good intentions to ultimately negative consequences; Coppola’s delicate touch made the film a melancholic statement about the angst and isolation of growing up.
5. Suicide Club (Sion Sono, 2001)
This film depicts the over-accelerated life of modern Japan and take an exploration into the roots of suicide in the contemporary world. Though it’s a mixture of thriller and gore, Suicide Club actually serves its purpose of stressing the relevance of having a reason to live.
Suicide Club is a film about the mass suicide of 54 teenage girls at a subway station; an action that will lead to an unexpected suicide wave across Japan. As the suicides increase, three detectives will find the link between a website that reports the numbers of suicides and a pop group of massive impact.
4. The Fire Within (Louis Malle, 1963)
Based on Pierre Drieu La Rochelle’s homonymous novel, The Fire Within, one of Louis Malle’s most promising early works, is an intimate depiction of the despairing and ignored help requested by someone who is facing suicide.
The film focuses on the depression of Alain Leroy (Maurice Ronet), a recovering alcoholic, who visits some old friends in one last attempt to retract the suicide plan he has had.
3. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
An existentialist dark comedy about the contrasts between the status quo culture of meaning and the outcast culture of death, Harold and Maude finally met the justice it deserved years after its disastrous release.
The film follows Harold (Bud Cort), a young man whose obsession with death leads him to trace fake suicides and attend funerals. As he happens to meet Maude (Ruth Gordon), a 79-year old woman who though shares Harold’s interest for funerals, doesn’t seems to live in the dark world Harold is determined to live in.
The cultural significance of Harold and Maude got it selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
2. The Death King (Jörg Buttgereit, 1990)
A masterpiece from the twisted mind of Jörg Buttgereit, the filmmaker that shocked the world with his controversial Nekromantik, The Death King is a conscious reflection of the death culture in postmodern times.
The film covers a week of suicides, angst and obsessions. The picture of the Death King, who makes people want to live no more, resumes Buttgereit’s message that unexpectedly results in a non-nihilistic film.
As a film from Buttgereit, The Death King is not easy to watch; It’s full of kitsch aesthetics, amateur-like filming techniques and tedious gore that contrast with its minimalist soundtrack. However, it is worth the risk.
1. The Seventh Continent (Michael Haneke, 1989)
Reportedly inspired by a newspaper article, Michael Haneke’s first feature film follows the abrupt and apparently meaningless suicide of a middle-class family that is about to move to Australia.
Though focused on the family’s suicide, the film follows the grey routine that precedes it in order to stress the passive and collective desperation that runs inadvertently not only in the family members but also in those who are close to them.
The film’s scene about the family flushing their money down the toilet deserves to be specially mentioned; a triumphal Haneke predicted would upset the public more than the idea of a family committing suicide. The Seventh Continent won the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.
Author Bio: Emiliano is a 23-year-old Ethics and Logic professor in a Mexican high school, his favorite directors are Gaspar Noé, Lars von Trier, Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders.