Just as the title implies, this is the second part of our three-part series on “21 Spiritually Resonant Films”.
If you enjoyed the films in that first part, or would like to expand your watchlist, then keep on reading!
Released in 2006, “The Fountain” was a financial failure, and a relative critical failure.
But, time has been kind to “The Fountain”.
More and more people are returning to the film and, in doing so, finding a treasure chest of delights.
Delights as rich and distinctive as a non-linear story set across centuries; a beautiful, yet melancholic, love story; several thrilling action sequences; and a story that is layered with spiritual wisdom and thought-provoking notions.
“The Fountain” is three stories in one.
Each story is set in a different century, yet stars the same actors and focuses on similar themes.
The first story is set in the 16th-century. Tomas, played by Hugh Jackman, is a Spanish conquistador searching for the Fountain Of Youth.
The second story is set in the 21st-century. Tom, also played by Hugh Jackman, is a surgeon, looking for a way to cure his wife — played by Rachel Weisz — from cancer.
The third story is set in the 26th-century. Tom, possibly the same character, is an astronaut in deep space, attempting to resurrect his wife, who is also played by Rachel Weisz.
Each one of these stories explores a variety of spiritual themes and ideas.
Some of these spiritual themes and ideas include love, faith, rebirth, reincarnation, transcendence; along with various others
Each one of these spiritual themes and ideas is explored with kindness and empathy, as well as universality.
A variety of faiths and mythologies are depicted in “The Fountain”.
Each one is given credence and value, yet none is depicted as being “greater than” any other.
This, too, is one of the films’ major spiritual themes.
A visually sumptous treat, with plenty of spiritual depth to match, “The Fountain” is absolutely lovely.
“My Dinner With Andre”, released in 1981, is a long conversation.
A long conversation between two men — Wally and Andre — with very unique ways of seeing, and experiencing, the world.
The uniqueness of these perspectives serves as the central thesis of this film.
Everyone sees the world a little differently. Everyone experiences the world a little differently.
The diversity of our perspectives and experiences is a source of magic.
A source of spiritual magic that enriches the abundance and creativity within this world.
Beyond this key theme, though, “My Dinner With Andre” contains numerous conversational digressions.
A plethora of these conversational digressions explore more blatant spiritual themes. Spiritual themes, such as the dreamlike nature of our experiences, the slippery — and ephemeral — nature of “truth”, and the ways in which we can be motivated by fear or passion.
For those who enjoy dense conversations that are filled to the brim with thoughts and questions, “My Dinner With Andre” is a 1980s classic you should not miss.
For “The Matrix”, no introduction is needed.
A lot of very smart people have analyzed “The Matrix”. People far smarter than me, and far smarter than the few paragraphs underneath this one.
You can go online, and find those essays very easily.
Each one contains a unique interpretation that underscores two facets of “The Matrix”: the rich spiritual content packed into every frame, and the universality of its themes and ideas.
Each one of these spiritual themes and ideas — reality being a dream, the power of faith, our innate creative power; among others — is accessible and familiar.
Even so, though, these themes and ideas are deeply profound, applicable in many ways, and resonant across cultures of all sorts.
Each one of those aforementioned themes and ideas is bookended with a neverending array of unique aesthetic choices, along with some exceptional action sequences.
For those reasons, and plenty of others, “The Matrix” is worth a place on this list, and a place on your watchlist.
Assuming you haven’t seen it already, that is.
Muhammad Ali was a fascinating man.
To put it lightly.
The numerous struggles Muhammad Ali went through, to become the person he chose to be, are well-known.
Even though these struggles were persistent, and undeniably challenging, Muhammad Ali persisted.
Persisted, not just to succeed and become one of the greatest — if not the greatest — heavyweight boxers of all time, but to become the person that he chose to be.
Rather than letting anyone or anything define him, Muhammad Ali defined every facet of himself, in a way that was aligned with his deepest ethical and spiritual principles.
The choice was easy.
The process of making this choice was, of course, far from it.
“Ali” is that story.
The story of a man who chose to define himself in his own way, underwent numerous trials and tribulations to do so, and then not only became the person he chose to be, but became widely-known for who he truly was.
Every single frame of “Ali” engages with these themes, in one form or another.
Every single one of those themes is explored with style and energy, as well as a sensuality, of sorts, that is rarely seen in biopics.
The combination of Michael Mann’s stylish, energetic, and sensual directorial style, along with Will Smith’s high-energy, makes for a wonderful cinematic experience.
For those who are interested in Muhammad Ali, along with notions of self-definition, “Ali” is worth a spot on your watchlist.
Released in 2009, “The Limits Of Control” was not a success.
Financially or critically, that is.
As a thorough exploration of several key themes, though, “The Limits Of Control” is a definite success.
“The Limits Of Control” follows Isaach de Bankole as the “Lone Man”.
Little is known of the Lone Man.
For most of the film’s runtime, all we, the viewer, know is that the Lone Man has been given a mission with a vague objective, and must fulfill this mission.
To accomplish this mission, the Lone Man meets with several individuals.
Each one of these individuals is quite unique.
Each one expresses a unique view of the world and, more importantly, a unique view of creativity and imagination.
Even though, to some, these conversations may serve as a detraction from the films’ main story, they are anything but.
Rather, within these conversations, there lies the key spiritual themes “The Limits Of Control” is intended to express.
Themes as vast, yet specific, as the beauty of diversity; the power of imagination; our innate creative abilities; and our need to go beyond systems of convention and habit, in order to express those innate creative abilities.
Each one of these themes is conveyed primarily through conversation.
Each conversation, however, takes place within a plethora of understated, yet enchanting, spaces, all located throughout some of Spain’s most famous cities.
If you are comfortable with slower films, don’t mind heady dialogue, and are fascinated with creativity and imagination, then “The Limits Of Control” offers much to enjoy.
Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” is a treat for dreamers and seekers of all sorts.
A series of loosely-connected vignettes, all implied to exist within a lucid dream, serve as the overall narrative of “Waking Life”.
Each one of the vignettes is a conversation between our protagonist, who is never named, and another individual, who almost always possesses a unique way of looking at, and experiencing, the world.
The subject matter of these vignettes is quite varied.
Dreams. Connection. Self. Meaning. Free Will. Posthumanism. Gun Control.
Those are just some of the topics “Waking Life” broaches.
Each one of these conversations is written with Linklater’s delectable blend of naturalism, humor, and self-conscious intellectualism.
Even though the writing is the focal point of “Waking Life”, there’s plenty of visual flair.
As you can tell, from the picture above, “Waking Life” is animated.
Rather than being traditionally animated, “Waking Life” is rotoscoped.
Every scene was shot traditionally, with real actors and real sets.
Right after these scenes were shot, though, they were drawn over in a unique array of styles.
Each one of these styles, along with the rotoscoping itself, culminates in a hazy, dreamlike style that reflects the themes and ideas within the film.
For those who enjoy heady conversations and unique styles of animation, “Waking Life” is a wonderful watch.
Subtle, and understated.
Both of those descriptors are most appropriate for the unique blend of romance and fantasy that Kim Ki-Duk conjures up in “3-Iron”.
The plot is quite simple.
Tae-Suk, a drifter who lives in the empty homes of those who are on vacations, wanders into the home of Sun-Hwa.
Sun-Hwa is married to Min-Kyu; a violent, controlling man who hurts Sun-Hwa.
Together, Tae-Suk and Sun-Hwa run off together.
The pair live together for a time, before being separated from one another.
Right around this point, “3-Iron” becomes something very special.
Sharing what it is that makes “3-Iron” so special would, inevitably, ruin some of the magic.
Just know, though, that this “special something” explores themes of transcendence, death, as well as the dreamlike nature of social constructions, cultural assumptions, and reality itself.
For those who enjoy romance and fantasy — fantasy that is, as mentioned, subtle and understated — with a dose of spirituality and some thought-provoking questions, “3-Iron” is a must-watch masterpiece.
As always, thank you so very much for reading this essay!
If you would like to suggest a film, share your thoughts on a particular film, or reach me for any reason, you can do so at “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Best wishes, and have a lovely day!