Have you ever come away from watching a film feeling in awe, inspired and raring to create something beautiful? Often we dismiss movie watching as something to do to switch-off, as a bit of escapism – and don’t get me wrong, it absolutely can be this – but it can also be so much more.
Watch the right movie and you will be moved. You’ll note the subtlety and pace of a line as it’s delivered. You’ll notice the way the colours work in a particular scene. You’ll get swept away by a well-timed song.
You may not recognise it at the time, but you’ll be inspired. Something will resonate and when you come to create something yourself, a part of you will remember what moved you.
Now, there are plenty of inspiring films out there, but I want to tell you about a few that inspire me. They aren’t all amazingly ‘deep’ or philosophical films, but they don’t have to be. Here’s a quick rundown:
1. Into The Wild
The premise: Christopher McCandless graduates from college as a top student, but is disillusioned by society, his upbringing and material possessions. Telling no one, he donates his savings to charity and burns the rest. He leaves home and embarks on an adventure into the great American wilderness with nothing but his books and a dream of making it to Alaska.
Why it’s inspiring: First of all, it’s a true story, making it all the more captivating – but what I get most inspired by is the stunning use of language and dialogue. The writer in me swoons as perfect descriptors and literary passages are strewn across the filmscape (see, even thinking about it is getting me writing flowery lines!). The soundtrack, by Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam fame) is also phenomenal.
A warning though, this doesn’t end in the most uplifting way, there is a big old dollop of tragedy here so watch with caution if you’re feeling emotionally sensitive.
The premise: The quintessential ingenue, Amelie is a young French woman who notices things most others don’t. Devoted to those around her, she enjoys playing the puppeteer of their lives, helping them see the beauty of life and love. She’s then promptly reminded that she should be paying attention to her own life.
Why it’s inspiring: The narrative itself is so charming and the way it’s been filmed and edited together is genius. I just come away from watching it feeling a little bit happier about the world we live in. I also feel smart, because who doesn’t feel smart when they watch a film with subtitles?
3. Garden State
The premise: directed by (and starring) Zach Braff, Garden State follows Andrew as he returns to his hometown for his mother’s funeral. During his trip he reconnects with old friends, comes off his mental health medication and meets the quirky and likeable Sam (played by Natalie Portman).
Why it’s inspiring: The dark comedy in the script and the artful way the scenes are shot makes this film inspiring to me. It’s heartwarming and makes you realise how wonderful, strange and beautiful life can be. The soundtrack is also bloody brilliant, especially Frou Frou’s ‘Let go’.
The premise: Hailed as a ‘modern day musical’ this lovely film tells the tale of an Irish busker and Czech immigrant and their unlikely friendship, all woven together with stunning music.
Why it’s inspiring: The music, the soft and slow story telling and the subtle acting. It’s one of my favourite films and it just brightens my mind. Even if you don’t watch this film, PLEASE listen to this amazing song from it, ‘when your mind’s made up‘.
If you want a slightly glossier, hollywood version – ‘Begin Again’ has similar themes and is by the same director (oh and has Mark Ruffalo in it, and he’s pretty great).
5. 500 Days of Summer
The premise: This isn’t a love story, so says the opening credits, but it’s certainly a story about love. Tom falls for Summer and experiences all the delicious and varied emotions that come with it, including rejection. To be fair, this film could have been about anything and I would have loved it, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel both have my heart ❤
Why it’s inspiring: It’s just a little bit different, you know? The scenes and dialogue are clever, the narrator adds a new dimension and it looks utterly beautiful. It gives you a new perspective on love and ends on a warm, hopeful note.
Just a few of the many films out there ready and waiting to inspire you. Have you seen any of these? Let me know what films inspire you in the comments, always interesting to hear what sparks creativity in others!