9 Top Movies To Watch For Mindfulness & Meditation (first published xmas 2015, updated Jan 2020)
Movies, like music, have a profound effect on your thinking long after they come to an end in the theatre.
Quite a few people have been in touch to ask if I can recommend any mindfulness oriented movies to watch. Movies that offer a unique perspective on life and being, or movies that are just stunning and beautiful. Like Baraka, for example.
Here below are a few of my favourites, and movies readers of the blog have written in to tell me about, in no particular order. They’re thought provoking, alternative, inspiring and fun. If you’ve seen them, leave me a comment. I love hearing what you have to say.
(There are now more than 9 on the list)
- The Cloud Atlas -An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. (172 mins.)
- The Truman Show -An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show. (103 mins.)
- Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind -oel Barish (Jim Carrey) has broken up with his love, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), only to find that she has had all traces of him deleted from her memory. In an act of despair, Joel decides to undergo the same procedure through the inventor of the erasure process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). The viewer travels (in reverse) through his experience of meeting and passionately loving her, and the wonderful and painful memories that the romantic experience generated. Along the way, Joel comes to the realization that he doesn’t really want to forget Clementine after all.
- I Love The Huckabees-A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. (107 mins.)
- The Matrix-A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. (136 mins.)
- Seven Years In Tibet-True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet. (136 mins.)
- Being John Malkovich -Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a struggling street puppeteer. In order to make some money, Craig takes a job as a filing clerk. One day he accidentally discovers a door… a portal into the mind of John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich)! For 15 minutes, he experiences the ultimate head trip – HE is John Malkovich! Then he’s dumped out onto the New Jersey turnpike! With his beautiful office mate Maxine (Catherine Keener) and his pet-obsessed wife (Cameron Diaz), they hatch a plan to let others into John’s brain for just $200 a trip.
- 2001 a space odyssey -Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (149 mins.)
- Amelie -Amelie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. (122 mins)
- IP Man – A 2008 Hong Kong biographical martial arts film based on the life of Yip Man, a grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. Wing Chun grandmaster Ip has an amazing wife, plenty of money, the most beautiful house in town, and a blossoming martial arts academy. But when the Japanese occupy his hometown of Foshan during the Sino-Japan war (1937), Ip, like the rest of the locals, is forced into hard labor and brutal sparring matches for the enemy’s amusement. His incredible skills catch the eye of the Japanese Colonel, Mr. Miura, who wants Ip to teach Wing Chun to his soldiers. When Ip refuses, he faces the most intense challenge to both his training and his honor. ( Via Rotten Tomatoes)
- Mulholland Drive by David Lynch – Along Mulholland Drive nothing is what it seems. In the unreal universe of Los Angeles, the city bares its schizophrenic nature, an uneasy blend of innocence and corruption, love and loneliness, beauty and depravity. A woman is left with amnesia following a car accident. An aspiring young actress finds her staying in her aunt’s home. The puzzle begins to unfold, propelling us through a mysterious labyrith of sensual experiences until we arrive at the intersection of dreams and nightmares. (Mulholland Drive topped BBC Culture’s poll of the greatest films of the 21st Century? More here)
- The Man Who Could Work Miracles’ by H. G. Wells (1939) – A black-and-white 1937 British fantasy-comedy film directed by the German-born American director Lothar Mendes. Based on the H.G. Wells story of the same name, this film centers on George Fotheringay (Roland Young), a retired man who receives nearly limitless power ( the power to work miracles) from a group of supernatural beings. At first George is amazed by the powers, but also worries about how to use them properly. Advised by Mr. Maydig (Ernest Thesiger), George attempts to end war and disease. However, after using his powers for selfish purposes, George finally comes to a decision about the best way to deploy his abilities.
- Baraka (1992) – Named after a Sufi word that translates roughly as “breath of life” or “blessing,” Baraka is Ron Fricke’s impressive follow-up to Godfrey Reggio’s non-verbal documentary film Koyaanisqatsi. Fricke was cinematographer and collaborator on Reggio’s film, and for Baraka he struck out on his own to polish and expand the photographic techniques used on Koyaanisqatsi. The result is a tour-de-force in 70mm: a cinematic “guided meditation”
- Orange Sunshine, William Kirkley (2016) ‘Orange Sunshine is the never-before-told story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love – a spiritual group of surfers and hippies in California, which became the largest suppliers of LSD during the 60’s and 70’s. This feature-length doc follows their rise to star-status in Psychedelic movement and the “bad trip” that followed.’
- Dolor y Gloria by Pedro Almodovar (Pain and Glory, 2019) ‘A film director reflects on the choices he’s made as past and present come crashing down around him.’
- Nearly all other Almodovar movies – for help choosing one, read my review here
- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley – (Preview) ‘Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story’s protagonist.’ Wikipedia
- ‘Walk With Me’ is a meditative film about a community of Zen Buddhist monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to mastering the art of mindfulness with their world-famous teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Animations/Kids: Fern Gully, (1992) The magical inhabitants of a rainforest fight to save their home, which is threatened by logging and a polluting force of destruction called Hexxus (Tim Curry). 19.2 Avatar the movie.
- Ram Das, Fierce Grace (2001) Ram Dass Fierce Grace is an engrossing, poignant meditation on spirituality, consciousness, healing and the unexpected grace of aging.
- The Osho Documentary ‘Wild Wild Country’ – Trailer
- Kings Of The Road – a projection-equipment repair mechanic named Bruno Winter (Rüdiger Vogler) and a depressed hitchhiker Robert Lander (Hanns Zischler) who has just been through a break-up with his wife and a half-hearted suicide attempt. They travel along the Western side of the East-German border in a repair truck, visiting worn-out movie theaters.And various other films of Wim Wenders – Trailer
- Pina – Magnificent, breathtaking, mysterious. A tribute to choreographer Pina Bausch. A cinematic eulogy. – Trailer
- What The Bleep – Scientists and philosphers explore the new field of epigenetics, healing and mind body medicine – Trailer
Movie synopses thanks to IMDB + Rotten Tomatoes