The most powerful movie experiences of your life?

Tools    





And when I'm all alone I feel I don't wanna hide
I'm sure we've all seen numerous films that we could subjectively describe as powerful. List them. This can be a fun way to generate some general film discussion and also become a notable source for recommendations. Here are some of mine:







Close-Up (1990)

This is a hauntingly real and personal examination into fame and identity. Without getting into any personal explications, this was a work I could myself relating to on an immensely profound level. The notion of wanting to be your icons and your inspirations took me to a pretty dark spot as a viewer. Since this was based on a true story and Abbas Kiarostami used all the real people associated with the actual events in the film, it just made it feel all the more authentic and real. The ending is one of the most beautifully humane conclusions to any film I have ever seen. Admittedly, it made me weep like an infant.





Late Spring (1949)

Ozu was a visionary and well ahead of his time. Nobody could explore the contemporary, post-WWII Japanese family with more depth and humanity than him. This is such a simple, accessible drama, but so incredibly powerful. It's a film any daughter, son, father or mother can relate to on a wide range of different levels. It's simply a masterwork and so powerful. Ozu's work were considered 'family dramas' back in 1940-1950s Japan, so it's a really simple film at its core. And that's why I adore it. It demands little from its viewers.





The Terminator (1984)

This is a pretty strange addition for me. This is not powerful in the sense that it is poignant or moving, but it spawns a truly remarkable atmosphere. The amazing sequence at the Tech Noir nightclub is just a wonderful showcase for visual filmmaking. Perhaps nostalgia is playing a small part here, but I am totally, completely and 100% always immersed in this picture when I watch it. I'm still stunned at how adept Camera was from behind the camera. A truly sinister, dark, creepy slice of 80s science fiction horror.





Taxi Driver (1976)

This really is the ultimate film about dejection, loneliness, and insanity. As I may only slightly prefer The King of Comedy when it comes to Scorsese, I think this is a much more personal, intimate piece. It's not such the technical impeccability or De Niro's amazing performance, but the way Scorsese slowly and closely portrays the life of Travis Bickle. There are a handful of truly powerful moments, but the ultimate one has to be the scene where Bickle is watching television whilst Jackson Browne's Late For The Sky is playing. Simply stunning.





2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Having recently seen this masterwork in 70mm at the theatres, it'd be a crime not to bring this up. In my opinion, the most artistically complete, accomplished, ambitious and human of all films that I have seen. No other work in the science fiction comes close to the existentialism that Kubrick captures (well, Tarkovsky's Stalker gives it a good run for its money). Put it this way: if I was kidnapped by aliens and was forced to show them a film that depicts humanity at its most curious, audacious and expression, then I'd choose Kubrick's evocative masterpiece.





The Ascent (1977)

Out of all the films that I have ever seen, I believe this work shows war at its most tragic, brutal and harrowing. I'd even put it ahead of Come and See. This one wasn't so much an emotional experience, but just a forceful and depressing one. It gets under your skin and candidly confronts you with the grim realities of war. To think this came out of the Soviet Union, known for their artistic suppression, is rather amazing. It was also directed by a female - another rarity of the USSR film industry and the medium in general.





Paths of Glory (1957)

Another war film, although this was definitely much more poignant. The final act is one of the most tear-inducing scenes I have seen. This is just as much a political film as it is a war film and served as a huge thematic inspiration for The Wire. It's all about the repressive and dictatorial nature of our institutions and how they essentially serve the few at the expense of many. It also completely shatters the notion that Kubrick was a misanthrope - this film shows wonderful compassion for humanity, but arrant cynicism for systems.





The Elephant Man (1980)

Hands down, the most dejecting film I have ever seen. I have intentionally avoided seeing it on a numerous occasions because, frankly, it upsets me way too much. Not only is Lynch a brilliant surrealist, but he can clearly handle the dramatic without coming across as schmaltzy or overly-sentimental. This entire work is just one depressing blow after another. This one kept me down for days after I saw it for the first time.





Mulholland Drive (2001)

This is one of the most indescribably powerful movie viewing experiences of my life. I'm not sure what I feel when I watch this film, but it's something I've never managed to forget. I like to think that Lynch appeals more to the emotions first than he does the intellect, and this movie achieves that. It's an abstract experience, almost, akin to Inland Empire or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Beyond that, however, it's a wonderfully grim look into the show business industry. It has a handful of truly eerie and creepy moments, too.





The Girl Next Door (2007)

This has to be up there as one of the most upsetting and disturbing films I have seen. It truly makes you feel helpless and despondent. It's brutal and hard to watch. This is not a powerful experience I embrace but one I try to shrug off. I guess it is powerful in a negative way because it makes you feel so utterly dejected. But any film that has this impact on you must be represented.





Sling Blade (1996)

A beautifully restrained slice of Southern Gothic storytelling. A very simple film, but so.... poetic, for lack of better word. There is a calmness to this film. It could have easily fell victim to sentimentality if it were in the hands of a different director. This did not make me cry, but it certainly was a touching and beautiful experience. Billy Bob Thornton in his prime, as an actor, writer and director. The level of talent he exhibits here is off-the-walls.





Tokyo Story (1954)

Another Ozu, and like Late Spring, an accessible, simple family drama, but so incredibly touching and increasingly relevant in today's Western world. This one brought me to tears purely because it's a film everyone, on some level, can relate to. It's just staggering how far ahead of his time Ozu was. A truly unmatchable talent and this is generally regarded as his finest movie, as many people here would know.





Detachment (2011)

I've reserved this until last because it's arguably the film I can relate to most. It felt like it was made for me because it mirrored so much of my life. Discarding that, however, it's an ambitious work, beautifully photographed and wonderfully written. It also echoes so much truth about our educational systems and the youth of today's world. I think about this frequently and it's one of the reasons why I want to be a filmmaker or tell stories, visually




There are so many others out there, too. What are your selections?



The thing isolated becomes incomprehensible
Requiem for a Dream
A Clockwork Orange
Barry Lyndon
Once Upon a Time in the West
2001: A Space Odissey
The Shining
Inglorious Basterds
Eyes Wide Shut
Trainspotting
Lolita (1962)





The only time I've literally sat there open mouthed at a reveal... And it's not even a twist ending.
__________________
5-time MoFo Award winner.



Master of My Domain
Great post Matteo, exceptionally written... quite the opposite of what I manage to type up.

The movies that gave me a powerful experience are basically the films that are in my favorites list, other films include 'Save The Green Planet' (no folks it's not what you think, it's a indie science fiction film) and Psycho.



Lord High Filmquisitor
Although ere are certainly others, and certainly more visceral experiences, I've always found Sunshine's ending to be the closest that I have ever come to have a legitimately moving religious experience (which is strangely amusing, given that it's the film that convinced Cillian Murphey of his athiesm).
__________________
Filmquisition: Raking Modern Entertainment Over the Coals Daily
Unrealitymag.com: New Articles Contributed Every Friday
Arcanis' 100 Favorite Films: 2015 Edition



The curious case of Benjamin Button
Pearl Harbor
The Pianist
The Great Dictator

I cried with this movies, even the bad.






--------------------------------------------------------------
Yep, Pearl Harbor is the bad.



Schindler's list.

to me it seems that the most powerful moments are ones of sadness. it's much easier for a film to make someone cry than it is to make them burst full of happiness.

or am I just bent and jaded?

Some films have evoked a strong sense of wonder in me. Star wars and the matrix.



"Powerful" - Such an interesting adjective when discussing film. These are some of the films that come to mind when I think of the word "Powerful":


A Streetcar Named Desire

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Bonnie and Clyde

The Wrestler

American Psycho

Splendor in the Grass

Network

Requiem for a Dream

Dallas Buyer's Club

Eyes Wide Shut

Magnolia

In the Bedroom

Frances

The Verdict

The Shining

Glengarry Glen Ross

Serpico

Dog Day Afternoon

Boogie Nights

Punch Drunk Love

Goodfellas

Taxi Driver

Django Unchained

Pulp Fiction

Straight Time

Marathon Man

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Resurrection

Days of Wine and Roses

Clean and Sober

The Shawshank Redemption

The Pawnbroker

Traffic



You know I wish people wouldnt bother listing a bunch of movies without any explanations. Its like the laziest and emptiest form of posting. Same with just posting an image of a movie and not telling the name of the film, or even why its being posted to begin with. Its spammy. Spammy!

______________________




I was 10 or 11 and I sobbed. Truly wrecked at the end of the movie.



Garp was the movie that made me realize I loved movies. It hits you on all fronts, and always in unexpected ways.



Leaving the movie theater me and a friend were completely speechless. We looked at each other the same exact time, and just said "Wow". Our minds were truly blown. The only other war movie that had this effect on me was the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.



This might go down as the funniest movie Ill ever see in my life just because I was 11 or 12 when I saw it. Only the first Porkys though, the rest were ass.



You know I wish people wouldnt bother listing a bunch of movies without any explanations. Its like the laziest and emptiest form of posting. Same with just posting an image of a movie and not telling the name of the film, or even why its being posted to begin with. Its spammy. Spammy!

______________________




I was 10 or 11 and I sobbed. Truly wrecked at the end of the movie.



Garp was the movie that made me realize I loved movies. It hits you on all fronts, and always in unexpected ways.



Leaving the movie theater me and a friend were completely speechless. We looked at each other the same exact time, and just said "Wow". Our minds were truly blown. The only other war movie that had this effect on me was the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.



This might go down as the funniest movie Ill ever see in my life just because I was 11 or 12 when I saw it. Only the first Porkys though, the rest were ass.


You have some great movies here, but your pictures for The Champ and Porky's aren't showing up.



I've never had a movie, 'change my life'...But a powerful movie experience? Yup, I've had a few of them.

I suppose for myself it's more the visceral moments of a film that resonate and stays with me. There's many artisically great movies, many on this thread, but few for me are powerful.







Nausicaa:


Stalker:


Princess Mononoke


Spirited Away:


Tokyo Story




Ugetsu










Ikiru


(not with this dubb though, couldn't find a specific poster):





Gurren Laggan movie 2, yeay!!!!!!!!!!

11 out of 16 are Japanese, including 8 anime films.



And when I'm all alone I feel I don't wanna hide
Taxi Driver
Stalker
Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, and Mulholland Drive
Apocalypse Now
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1989 or 1990 viewing)
Tokyo Story
It's a Wonderful Life
Thanks for the reply, GS. I, of course, agree completely on Taxi Driver. Having recently watched a beautiful 4K Blu-ray transfer of the film, I really underestimated the sheer power and beauty of this scene:



I agree with your additions of Stalker, Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Tokyo Story, too. I'd add all of Lynch's filmography, actually, perhaps discarding Wild at Heart and Dune. Apocalypse Now is a truly immersive experience, especially the remarkable opening sequence. I might have the opportunity to see a 35mm print of that film in the future. Here's hoping.

The curious case of Benjamin Button
Pearl Harbor
The Pianist
The Great Dictator

I cried with this movies, even the bad.






--------------------------------------------------------------
Yep, Pearl Harbor is the bad.
Thanks for the reply, Frank Darabont. The final speech of The Great Dictator, whilst a little bit narratively misplaced and thematically overt, is up there as one of the most powerful moments in all of cinema. It's amazing how relevant and truthful Chaplin's speech still is when you apply it to the political dynamics of the modern world. Amazingly sad.

Schindler's List
Raging Bull
Platoon
Cinema Paradiso
Empire of the Sun
2001
Requiem for a Dream
Forrest Gump
Thanks for the reply, Memento Mori. Unfortunately, I've seen Raging Bull so many times that I can't quite have that wonderful 'experience' with it anymore. Still, I'll never forget watching it for the first time. It's truly a wonderful piece of filmmaking, and, in my opinion, Scorsese at his peak, artistically. We're in complete agreement on 2001. Cinema Paradiso and Forrest Gump I may have to disagree with, however - I found them rather heavy-handed and overly-sentimental, myself. I still need to see Requiem for a Dream. I heard that's rather powerful.

Schindler's list.

to me it seems that the most powerful moments are ones of sadness. it's much easier for a film to make someone cry than it is to make them burst full of happiness.

or am I just bent and jaded?

Some films have evoked a strong sense of wonder in me. Star wars and the matrix.
Thanks for the reply, Foster. You're not bent and jaded in the least. Around 90% of the films I consider 'powerful' all have one sharing similarity - they've made me weep like an infant and they're drenched in dejection and overall sadness.

"Powerful" - Such an interesting adjective when discussing film. These are some of the films that come to mind when I think of the word "Powerful":


A Streetcar Named Desire

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Bonnie and Clyde

The Wrestler

American Psycho

Splendor in the Grass

Network

Requiem for a Dream

Dallas Buyer's Club

Eyes Wide Shut

Magnolia

In the Bedroom

Frances

The Verdict

The Shining

Glengarry Glen Ross

Serpico

Dog Day Afternoon

Boogie Nights

Punch Drunk Love

Goodfellas

Taxi Driver

Django Unchained

Pulp Fiction

Straight Time

Marathon Man

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Resurrection

Days of Wine and Roses

Clean and Sober

The Shawshank Redemption

The Pawnbroker

Traffic
Thanks for the reply, Gideon. I love your additions of The Wrestler, The Pawnbroker, Punch-Drunk Love, and Pulp Fiction (Marathon Man and Straight Time, too, although to a lesser extent). All those films have had profound impacts on me in the past, most particularly PTA's film, albeit in a more funky, comedic kind of way. The phone call scene between Sandler and Hoffman is simply a remarkable exhibition of writing, acting, and directing.



I've seriously seen it three times before posting this message. I love it.



Nausicaa:


Stalker:


Princess Mononoke


Spirited Away:


Tokyo Story




Ugetsu










Ikiru


(not with this dubb though, couldn't find a specific poster):





Gurren Laggan movie 2, yeay!!!!!!!!!!

11 out of 16 are Japanese, including 8 anime films.
Thanks for the reply, Guaporense. Oh, excellent call on Ikiru! That one completely went over me. That's truly one of the most poignant movie-going experiences of my life. Kurosawa was just as good at the contemporary drama as he was the period epic. You've listed many other great films, too.

I've never had a movie, 'change my life'...But a powerful movie experience? Yup, I've had a few of them.

I suppose for myself it's more the visceral moments of a film that resonate and stays with me. There's many artisically great movies, many on this thread, but few for me are powerful.

Thanks for the reply, CR. Yeah, 'powerful' is a rather vague term and hard to apply to certain filmic experiences. I adore all of Ingmar Bergman's films, for example, but I wouldn't consider any of them powerful in the terms' traditional workings. Those that stay with you, at least to me, are works that actually make you feel something, emotionally, as opposed to something that works on a more intellectual level.

You know I wish people wouldnt bother listing a bunch of movies without any explanations. Its like the laziest and emptiest form of posting. Same with just posting an image of a movie and not telling the name of the film, or even why its being posted to begin with. Its spammy. Spammy!

______________________




I was 10 or 11 and I sobbed. Truly wrecked at the end of the movie.



Garp was the movie that made me realize I loved movies. It hits you on all fronts, and always in unexpected ways.



Leaving the movie theater me and a friend were completely speechless. We looked at each other the same exact time, and just said "Wow". Our minds were truly blown. The only other war movie that had this effect on me was the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.



This might go down as the funniest movie Ill ever see in my life just because I was 11 or 12 when I saw it. Only the first Porkys though, the rest were ass.
Thanks for the reply, Tongo. I've only seen Platoon from your list. A good slice of anti-war filmmaking, overall, but it was emotionally inert in my books. A little too 'excessive' with the scoring at times, too.



One of my favorite movies of all time, Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann. It is the first (should have been the only) adaptation of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. That scene with Will Graham and Jack Crawford in Crawford's office when Will Graham finally puts it together is AMAZING. It gives me goose bumps every time I see it. Incredible movie.

I would have to say that one of my most amazing movie experiences was seeing a free pre-screening of The Matrix before it was released in theaters at the Student Union building in undergrad. No one had ever seen it before. I had gotten stood up by my friend and wound up going myself. Everyone thought it was going to be another Johnny Pneumonic. That first scene rolls out and Trinity lays out three cops in about as many seconds. There was stunned silence. Then a girl about two rows back shouted, "You go girl!" Everyone cheered.



Sansho the Bailiff
Wizard of Oz
Spirited Away
Tokyo Story
Rear Window
The Grapes of Wrath
Mystic River
Shawshank Redemption



Excellent post, Matteo. You always come across as very articulate and intelligent, so I enjoy reading your thoughts on films. I just wish you shared them with us more often.

As for your personal choices, the ones that I've seen are mostly excellent. The Elephant Man, for example, is one of the most moving films I've ever seen. Knowing that John Merrick once existed and suffered such deformities and ostracism makes the film even more powerful. I struggle not to cry every time I watch it.

I've never seen Detachment, but if it's powerful enough to appear on your list then I definitely think it's worth watching. It surprised me to see The Girl Next Door on your list. I read the book a few years ago and it's by far the most disturbing thing I've ever read. I finished it in two sittings because I couldn't put it down despite my horror and disgust. Days later, I was still depressed and couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought the film adaptation was rather average and tame compared to the book, but I can see why it would appear on your list. For similar reasons, Irreversible remains one of my most powerful movie experiences.

Generally speaking, however, when I think of the most powerful movie experiences I've had, it's usually due to awe and amazement more than an emotional response. For me, films of great ambition and enormous scope are usually the ones that pack the most powerful punch. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, Fitzcarraldo, Seven Samurai, and Once Upon a Time in the West are some of the first films that spring to mind. After the credits rolled for each film, I sat in stunned silence, still enthralled and immersed in the experience, knowing that I had witnessed one of the crowning achievements in cinema. Watching Gravity last year in IMAX-3D also gave me that same feeling. As everyone streamed out of the cinema, my friends asked me what I thought of the film, but I was still too speechless to respond. It felt like I had just watched a film thirty years before its time, a film with effects so groundbreaking that our current technology couldn't account for it.

Other powerful movies experiences:
Pulp Fiction: Immediately became my all-time favorite film and opened my eyes to the wider world of cinema and its boundless capabilities. Also triggered my transformation from simple movie lover to passionate cinephile.
Requiem for a Dream: Due to past experiences, movies about drug addiction and obsession often strike a chord with me, and this remains the best I've seen on the subject. There's a sequence near the end of the film that always twists my stomach into a knot.
There Will Be Blood: A modern-day masterpiece. I was fortunate enough to catch it in the theater and PTA's masterful direction and Day-Lewis's all-time great performance resonated with me for months afterward.
Eraserhead: By the time the climax arrives, I feel like my mind is tottering between reality and fantasy, my grip on sanity tenuously slipping away. If I watched this movie on repeat, over and over and over, I'd end up in a mental institute. The most psychologically disturbing film I've ever seen.
The Last Temptation of Christ: I'm from the southern United States, smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, where seemingly everyone's a Christian and there's a steeple at every turn. Even though I'm not religious, I grew up with it and had to go to Bible study and all of that as a kid, so perhaps that's partly why this film resonates with me so strongly. I think all films about Jesus, regardless of personal beliefs or the quality of the film, are powerful to an extent simply because of the story being told. For me, Dafoe's exceptional performance and the vulnerable, humanistic portrayal of Jesus in this film feels the most honest and relatable. Atheist, Agnostic, whatever, I'm always moved by this film, which I think is one of Scorsese's most underrated and under appreciated. I rank it second in his filmography behind only Taxi Driver.
__________________



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Watched "The Hunt", Danish film the other day and have been thinking about it since, especially the next day.

Amazing how a life can be turned upside down all due to a child's misunderstood comment to an adult.
__________________



Watched "The Hunt", Danish film the other day and have been thinking about it since, especially the next day.

Amazing how a life can be turned upside down all due to a child's misunderstood comment to an adult.
Glad to see this recommended!

I challenge everyone to see it. It's quite an experience and truly just a dark and depressing movie. But worth it.