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. "It’s 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 we’re 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, Muriel’s 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 people’s 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. Shakespeare’s 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 person’s integrity, well-being or survival.

The Films

APOLLO 13 Things can suddenly happen that literally demand that a group of people, in order to avert disaster, must work together and quickly. They must find solutions to serious problems that seem to come out of nowhere and are unlike anything that they have ever faced. Apollo 13 is the story of a very unique incident that occurred in 1969 and reveals how three astronauts and the support staff on earth successfully responded to an emergency that was perilous, to say the least. As is so often the case, one person could not have dealt with the situation alone. Yes, there were people who had leadership roles, but, as we see in the film, answers and solutions had to be provided by others who had special knowledge or skill. Challenging realities often demand this because they encompass more than what one person alone can handle. This is as true for a space flight, an event like a natural disaster that has struck a neighborhood, or a crisis of some sort that confronts a family. Apollo 13 affirms that successes are realized because people put aside their complaints and personal issues to concentrate on the task at hand. 1995
MCA/Universal Home Video
Rated PG for language and emotional intensity


The Best Years Of Our Lives


Il Postino
The Wizard Of Oz

Please note: More movies are being added to this page.  Check back soon.

The booklet Getting Unstuck: A Guide For Breaking Out Of Self-Defeating Patterns is an aid for those who are caught in some undesirable life pattern. You might also find the booklet helpful to read after seeing this film. For only $2.50 plus shipping and handling you can have this booklet mailed to you within two days! Check out this booklet NOW! In addition, the booklet Coming To Terms With Being Victimized is a resource for those who have been overcome by some bad reality.  This booklet is only $2.50 plus shipping and handing.  Check this booklet out NOW!
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