One might say that all movies deal with challenging realities, otherwise there would be no story line or drama. However, not all films are equally honest or realistic in how they portray these and, in telling a story, how they present people responding to the difficult or threatening circumstances. Most films are made purely for entertainment. There is no intent that the movies be taken seriously. "Its just a movie," is a common phrase. The movie makers present resolutions to the difficulties they invent which are often unrealistic, naive, superficial, or trite. (There is really nothing wrong with this if all were interested in is an amusing diversion.)
While most films are superficial and even artificial, some stand out because of what they reveal about facing difficult challenges. These films offer important insights and points of view. Many independent films (low budget films that have become increasingly popular over the last few years) offer revealing statements about life. Also some major commercial films (Forest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Courage Under Fire) stand out because they offer a realistic depiction of difficult circumstances and the characters genuine efforts to respond to these. This is even true of some comedies (The Full Monty, Being There, Muriels Wedding). Most old classics (Casablanca, The Wizard Of Oz, The Grapes of Wrath, Vertigo, Mr Smith Goes To Washington) have become classics because of the depth and wisdom they reveal about peoples attempts to overcome some significant difficulty.
It is important to remember that movies are not documentaries. Even when they deal with a historical event, like Watergate, D-Day, the life of a great composer, they are dramatizations of events and liberties are taken with the facts to make a story work. This does not in itself make for a dishonest film, unless the film is presented as a true depiction of the facts. What makes a movie honest is how accurately it mirrors life and the human condition. Shakespeares characters (Richard III, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, etc) were often based on real people but his Richard III, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet are very different from their historical counterparts. He used them to reveal important aspects of human nature as did the creators of Patton, Amadeus, and Lawrence of Arabia. They also used real people to make their statements.
Throughout the pages of Therapeutic Cinema are films that address challenging realities. Here are listed films that focus specifically on victimizing circumstances or events that challenge a persons integrity, well-being or survival.
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Last modified: 18 March, 2009