To finish off this series, we have “21 Spiritually Resonant Films — Part 3”.
That’s a good way to sum up “The Fall”.
Every frame of “The Fall” is soaked in beauty, for beauty is, in great part, the reason this film exists, and the essence of the experience it offers.
But, of course, there’s quite a bit more to the film than just that.
Rather, “The Fall” is concerned with several fascinating spiritual themes, each of which is explored with empathy and kindness.
The two most significant spiritual themes are as follows: stories as a source of spiritual healing and metanoia, as well as the ways in which the stories we tell ourselves serve to define both who we are, and who we are in relation to others.
To explore these themes, “The Fall” tells a simple story.
The year is 1915. The setting is an unnamed hospital in Los Angeles.
One of the patients of this hospital is a stuntman named Roy Walker. One of the other patients in this hospital is a very young Romanian girl named Alexandria.
Through a series of events, Alexandria meets Roy, and Roy begins to tell Alexandria a story.
Soon after Roy begins his story, though, Alexandria begins telling the story with him, inserting both Roy and herself into the events.
What follows this prologue is often quite sad, yet always life-affirming and never anything less than visually sumptuous.
Diving into the ways in which the spiritual themes mentioned earlier are explored would spoil much of the film’s magic.
What can be said, however, is that “The Fall” is a wonderful treat for those who would like to go beyond the stories that have been told about themselves.
For those who enjoy films of extraordinary visual beauty, rich spiritual themes, and life-affirming storytelling, “The Fall” is a masterpiece that you must watch.
My thoughts on “What Dreams May Come” are mixed.
On one hand, I adore the film’s exploration of “the afterlife”, and am always in-awe of the splendid visual landscapes that Vincent Ward — the director — was able to conjure up.
On the other hand, though, the film feels perhaps a little too maudlin, and there’s a vague emotional distance between the viewer and what occurs within the film.
Regardless of that, though, “What Dreams May Come” is a delicate, sumptuous exploration of what happens to us after we pass on.
The story follows a man named Chris — played wonderfully by the late, great Robin Williams — who has died in a car accident.
For the first part of the film, we follow Chris as he is guided through the afterlife.
Soon after that first part, Chris’ wife dies by suicide and is sent to “Hell”.
If you watch the film, you’ll understand why “Hell” is in quotes.
The remainder of the film follows Chris as he ventures into “Hell” so that he can rescue his wife.
Even though that description is accurate, it’s not entirely indicative of “What Dreams May Come”.
Rather than being a thrilling adventure into the afterlife, “What Dreams May Come” is, in actuality, somewhat slow, often quite sad, yet, perhaps ironically, unquestionably life-affirming.
The vision of the afterlife that “What Dreams May Come” offers is one of the most beautiful ever committed to both celluloid and, perhaps, fiction, in general.
For those who enjoy thinking about what happens after we pass on, and for those who want a good cry, “What Dreams May Come” is highly-recommended.
Released in 2019, “Fantastic Fungi” is the only documentary in this list.
The focal point of “Fantastic Fungi” is the generative, healing, and spiritual powers contained within fungi.
Each one of these qualities, all of which every variety of fungi possesses in one form or another, is explored through fascinating interviews and some lovely time-lapse photography.
Beyond fungi, though, “Fantastic Fungi” explores a number of other themes.
Themes such as our presence on earth, the innumerable forces/beings that exist within this earth, and the ways are actions affect the infinite forces/beings that are all around us.
Each one of these themes is explored not just with care, but with passion.
A passion that radiates throughout every frame of the film.
A passion that asks us to consider who we are, what we are connected to, and the value of our actions.
For those who enjoy nature documentaries with a strong, spiritual component, “Fantastic Fungi” is a great way to invest 81-minutes.
“The Sunset Limited”, released in 2011, stars just two actors: Samuel L. Jackson, and Tommy Lee Jones.
Samuel L. Jackson plays a spiritual man. A man who believes in God. A man who believes in life.
Tommy Lee Jones plays a suicidal man. A man who believes everything ends in death. A man who believes in the meaningless nature of his existence.
Right before the film begins, Tommy Lee Jones’ character — to my knowledge, he is never given a name — attempts to kill himself.
The attempt is thwarted by Samuel L Jackson’s character.
Right after the failed attempt, the two men begin a long, heady conversation on their respective views of the world.
Both actors play their respective characters with subtlety, empathy, and consideration.
Each character feels real, and each worldview feels valid.
Throughout the long conversation that follows, a number of spiritual themes are discussed.
The most notable theme is that of life, and the purpose that our lives serve.
Both characters ask a number of difficult questions regarding the subject.
No easy answers are given — to the characters, or to us, the viewers.
Rather, “The Sunset Limited” asks us to meditate on what we believe and how we contextualize our own experiences.
Through the act of meditating on such themes, we can come to our own conclusions and live by our own truths.
For those who enjoy heady, character-driven films that ask difficult questions and offer no easy answers, “The Sunset Limited” is a great watch.
Released in 1998, “The Thin Red Line” is a long, somewhat slow, war film that explores many spiritual themes.
Some of these spiritual themes include faith, love, death, nature, and beauty; along with many others.
Even though “The Thin Red Line” is a war film there is a sensitivity here that few films, in general, appear to offer.
On the surface “The Thin Red Line” is about a group of soldiers, stationed on the Solomon Islands during World War 2, fighting the Japanese.
Even though the film offers several war sequences, which solidify the truth of the plot description above, much of the film is concerned with the soldiers themselves, and the inner lives that they lead.
Everyone sees the world a little differently. Everyone experiences the world a little differently.
Both of these truths are explored thoroughly in “The Thin Red Line”.
“The Thin Red Line” also asks a number of questions regarding our place in the world, the nature of war, the importance of faith; along with many more.
No answers are given to these questions. But, the soldiers in this film relay their own answers, at times, sharing their own way of experiencing the world.
For those who enjoy sensitive films that ask thoughtful questions, and don’t mind several difficult scenes and some genuinely sad moments, “The Thin Red Line” is one of the best war films ever made.
The name “A Prophet” may suggest a film more explicitly spiritual than “A Prophet” actually happens to be.
Rather than following a literal prophet — or even someone with a definite spiritual ability — “A Prophet” follows Malik El Djebena, a young French man of Algerian descent.
Right before the film begins, Malik is sentenced to six-years in prison.
The prison sentence is made worse by the fact that Malik is both illiterate and unfamiliar with the Corsican dialect heavily spoken within the prison.
For the first couple of weeks, life is challenging.
Eventually, through a series of events, Malik becomes a low-level servant to a man named Luciani, one of the most powerful people within the prison.
The events that follow this prologue serve as a wonderful story of self-actualization and choosing to define yourself the way you wish to define yourself.
For those who enjoy prison stories, and enjoy stories of transformation and self-creation, “A Prophet” is excellent.
You can find two versions of “Solaris”.
One version was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and released in 1972.
Another version was directed by Steven Soderbergh, stars George Clooney, and released in 2002.
Both versions are quite good.
My favorite version, however, is the 1972 Russian original.
Since this is the case, the remainder of this section is devoted to that version of “Solaris”.
Regardless of which version you choose, the story is quite similar, as are the main themes and ideas.
A psychologist named Kris Kelvin is sent to a space station deep within interstellar space.
The purpose of Kelvin’s visit is simple: to evaluate whether the space station should remain functional, and the planetary body the station is intended to observe — Solaris — should continue to be studied.
Soon after Kelvin arrives, a number of strange events take place.
Strange events that, for Kelvin, while odd, arouse little more than mere curiosity.
Right after Kelvin awakens from his first night on the station, that all changes.
Kelvin wakes up to find Hari, his deceased wife, right next to him.
Hari is not sure how she got there, yet remembers Kelvin and remembers just how much they loved one another.
What follows is a slow, meditative look at memory, love, intelligence, and that which we are unable to comprehend.
Each one of these themes is centered around “Solaris” itself; a planetary body with a form of intelligence that we, as human beings, are unable to truly understand or articulate.
For those who are infatuated with themes of that sort, and don’t mind a slow-paced, yet undeniably beautiful, classic of Russian cinema, “Solaris” is more than worth your time.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much!
My hope is that some of these films — at least one or two — serve as a source of spiritual wisdom and inspiration.
As always, if you would like to reach me for any reason, you can do so at “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Best wishes, and have a wonderful day!