It’s been a heck of a week. Emotions are high, people are stressed, and many are disillusioned. As society perpetuates division and negativity, it’s reassuring to find the good in this world, and the unifying art form of cinema can be that source of comfort. To end the week on an inspirational note, I turned to movie lovers on Facebook and Twitter and asked them what movie restores their faith in humanity. Here’s how they responded:
1). Casablanca (1942)
Rick and Ilsa sacrifice their love for a greater purpose of defeating the Nazis.
-Diana Bosch, Twitter (@cinemaisswell), Flickin’ Out
Because Rick abandons his cynicism to fight the Nazis, even Captain Renault comes over to the Free French side, and Victor Laszlo is ever-inspiring. “If we stop breathing, we will die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.” And then at the end: “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”
-Trudy Ring, Facebook
2). A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
This family is a very loving circle, even though the father is an alcoholic. Money is scarce, yet the children enjoy playing in the streets as much as more affluent kids. When tragedy happens, they get back up and get on with their lives.
-Michael Reed, Twitter (@mikeyreed)
So many scenes of quiet kindness amid the poor circumstances of the family. Johnny complimenting the ill girl’s pretty dress. The teacher letting Francie stay at the out of neighbourhood school. Officer McShane’s respectful dealing with Johnny. McGarrity’s offer a job for the kids. The barber giving Francie the shaving mug.
-Patricia Nolan-Hall, Facebook, Caftan Woman
3). It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) (and Frank Capra films in general)
Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey always took the sacrifice, put others first, and worked hard to do what was right simply because it was the right thing to do. While his choices never granted him a life of glamorous travel or riches, when times got rock-bottom tough, he was wealthy in friends. I think we all relate to some aspect of George Bailey and it gives us hope and inspiration to do what’s right in our lives, too.
-Kellee Pratt, Facebook, Outspoken and Freckled
Most Capra movies in general, because they are never glorified, improbable tales of unachievable miracles. They are founded in human nature for better or worse and the necessary compromises, faults and set-backs we all have. Yet when humility and humanity prevails, kindness and progress follows. See: You Can’t Take It With You, Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, State of the Union, Lady for a Day, etc.
-Karin Mustvedt-Plüss, Facebook
4.) The Razor’s Edge (1946)
Tyrone Power sticks to his positivity and joy of life and finds the best in others no matter what everyone around him does.
-Kris Thompson, Facebook
5). Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Whether or not you are drawn into believing in Santa Claus (again), this movie will restore your belief in the kindness humans have the potential to show one another. Few today would feel comfortable allowing a neighbor to watch their child, to bring in a stranger who didn’t have a place to stay, to adopt a war orphan. Every time I watch the scenes of the little Dutch girl singing with Santa Claus, and when Kris Kringle is exonerated during his lunacy hearing, my heart sings. I could watch this movie a million times and never get tired of it.
-Sharleen Rayner, Facebook
6). 12 Angry Men (1957)
In a media-driven world where people are proven guilty by the court of public opinion before any evidence is presented, or racial biases and misconceptions still drive people’s opinions on whether or not someone is guilty, 12 Angry Men is a movie that shows that one person can truly make a difference for the better.
– Eli Ralston, Facebook
7). The Breakfast Club (1985)
Teenagers with completely different lives, interests, and friend groups come together to realize they aren’t so different and try to understand each other on a deeper level. Again, it’s about overcoming judgements, displaying empathy, and family. Amazing soundtrack, I might add.
-Kevin Guevara, Facebook
8). Dead Poets Society (1989)
It personally inspired me to go into teaching, and did a beautiful job illustrating the need for the arts and freedom of expression. I love its emphasis on the human condition and how important it is to spend your existence pursuing your passions and not being confined by society’s norms or expectations. It inspires me every time I watch it.
-Olivia Christine, Facebook
9). The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Seminal book, seminal film, and one I loved as a kid. Scrooge’s redemption always reminds me that it’s never too late to change or make peace with the past.
-Zaki Manan, Facebook
10). Forrest Gump (1994)
The line, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” is really profound. The fact that he doesn’t let anything limit him is inspiring.
-Danielle Buschur, Facebook
11). The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Redemption is in the title! It’s all about the power and resilience of human hope.
-Stephanie Kreps, Facebook
Despite being unfairly convicted, despite being abused and demeaned in prison, despite fear of the unknown on the outside after prison, neither Andy nor Red ever gave up hope. The last lines are so beautiful: “I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
– Jill McKnight, Facebook
12). Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 is and will always be one of my favorite movies. What was great about it was that you got to see from every angle the challenge and the emotional toll it took to get these three men home alive. Everyone, from the astronauts, to Mission Control, to people all over America, shut up about their differences and joined together to pray and hope and work hard to bring these men safely home. I think we can get back there someday. It may not be in the next four years, but one day, we as a nation will stand together for something good. I just hope it happens during my lifetime.
-Victoria Disque, Facebook
13). Waking Ned Devine (1998)
It gives me faith in humanity by reminding me that we need very little to live a fulfilling and remarkable life. An entire town comes together for a cause, they celebrate when it succeeds, and they are willing to give up the spoils to help one of their own. The film shows that it isn’t what I do that makes my life remarkable. The things that make my life remarkable are the people by my side and the place I call home.
-Wendy Faunce, Facebook
14). October Sky (1999)
It has themes of good “down home” patriotism but also celebrates science and academic achievement among students, leading to promise of a better future for everyone.
-Jocelyn Dunphy, Facebook, Classic Film Observations & Obsessions
15). The Avengers (2012)
I watch it when I’m sad or need a boost because it not only exemplifies teamwork but how people who, despite their differences and extremely different capabilities, do what they know is right. My favorite character is Hawkeye because it isn’t easy not having legitimate super powers, and the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned from him is to not compare yourself to others. It only belittles your capabilities, and he’s got bigger things to focus on. Also every team member is so flawed and if one is aware of their background outside of the movies, it just proves that flaws make a person and help them in the long run. “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.”
-Steph Pifer, Facebook
16). Chef (2014)
My all time favorite feel-good movie. It gives me such a good feeling seeing someone reinvent themselves and end up happier and closer with their family after. It’s a fun, happy, and all around enjoyable movie to watch. Just don’t watch it when you’re hungry, you’ll regret it.
-Sam Elder, Facebook
17). The Lego Movie (2014)
– Andrew Michael, Facebook
18). Cinderella (2015)
“Have courage and be kind.” It takes courage to choose kindness every day, and especially when it’s not reciprocated. And then the oppressed choose to have courage and be kind over and over that motivates me to do the same, little by little.
-Simoa, Twitter (@girlhuntballet), Champagne for Lunch
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
What movies restore your faith in humanity?