Thursday, April 1, 2021

Movies reflect human needs: Agency

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Theme: Movies reflect human needs...

Agency


Image from storyblocks.com

Humans need agency--the God-given ability to choose and act for ourselves. 

Even when freedoms are taken away, we can still direct our thoughts and attitudes. Viktor Frankl observed this first-hand while a prisoner in a WWII concentration camp, and teaches:
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
One day I came home from work spouting about how my boss "made me mad." My husband pointed out, "No one can make you mad. You chose to be mad." Well, that "made" me even madder! But, I realized that he was right. 

The next day I was more aware of choosing my thoughts and reactions, so when my boss threw his usual tantrums, I chose to not let it bother me and had a wonderful day at work.

When I consider movies reflecting the human need of agency, I think of...

  • A mysterious group manipulates and makes adjustments, to ensure people follow the path of life outlined for them, whether they like it or not.
Breathe (2017)
  • Based on the true story of Robin Cavendish, paralyzed by polio, who, with the help of his wife, pushes past boundaries, creating ways to live beyond the walls of the hospital. (Prior to that, those who needed artificial respirators required hospitalization.) (My review for the film is found here.)
The Giver (2014)
  • A society without war and pain might sound ideal, but what if it also lacks decisions and choice? That's the order of an equalitarian society established by the Chief Elder. With the use of a mandatory drug, members of the society have no memories, no history, just a simple "happiness" (also thanks to the drug) with all life decisions made by the Elders. This is the antithesis of agency.
Groundhog Day (1993)
  • Phil (Bill Murray) apparently has no control over being stuck existing in the same day over and over for years, but he is free to choose how he spends that day.
  • Truman (Jim Carrey) thinks his life is his own, not realizing his environment and friends are specifically selected and controlled by the director of a reality TV show.
  • After an accident, Amberly Snyder faces life in a wheelchair and learns that although she has physical limitations, she still has choices, "I realize maybe I won't have control over every situation in my life. Maybe I don't get to make every decision. But when I wake up in the morning, I get to decide my attitude."  (Based on a true story.) ("My Take" review is found here.)

What movies come to mind when you think about agency--the ability to choose and act for ourselves?


(Note: The movies listed might not be completely family-friendly. See my "Movie Content" information on the blog's sidebar.)

31 comments:

  1. Groundhog Day is a classic, Bill Murray at his very best! And The Truman Show I like because it showed Jim Carrey could really act and not just do crazy schtick. Great start to the challenge!
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/01/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-a/

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    1. Thank you for commenting!

      Groundhog Day has so many life lessons, I'm not sure why it took several viewings before I appreciated it.

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  2. The first movie that came to my mind was "Thelma and Louise." Not saying they always chose wisely, but... "The Accidental Tourist" is another one.

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    1. For sure, even though we all have agency doesn't mean we use it wisely!

      I've read the book The Accidental Tourist but I don't think I've seen the movie!

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  3. I don't see enough movies to think of specific titles. Your examples are enough though it seems to center on societies and situations that are more confining and unusual than most ordinary of people.

    Have a lovely day.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! You're right, the examples are more confining than many people experience.

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  4. Nice start, Trudy! I have my notebook out to keep a note of new movies to see!

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Thanks, Janet! I hope you'll let me know if you watch (and hopefully enjoy) some of the films!

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  5. Oh, great movie list, I don't know some of them. Great theme by the way ;)

    Quilting Patchwork & Appliqué

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    1. Thanks Frédérique! You have another wonderful theme again this year and I'll be following along!

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  6. What a great choice for your A word Trudy. Not sure I have a movie title in mind, but I will say you've offered suggestions for a few I haven't seen. Seems I'll be keeping a list like Janet is.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I've watched a lot of movies while preparing for this theme, so I'm happy to share.

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  7. When talking about having no control over your life, I thought about the movie, "A Clockwork Orange." It features the conflict between individuals and the all controlling state and, as such, is still considered to be controversial.

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    1. I haven't seen "A Clockwork Orange" but from how you described it, it does seem like it fits the topic.

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    2. Alice, I tried to follow the link attached to your name, but it only led to a page telling me the blogger profile was unavailable.

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  8. I'm not sure on a movie, but this makes me thing of the show Supernatural. They dealt a lot with the concept of free will and having your own agency. It's one of my favorites. Weekends In Maine

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    1. I haven't seen the Supernatural series, so I looked it up on IMDb and it looks intense... and intriguing!

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  9. Agency is something that we seem to have less in this pandemic era but I agree that it's important to focus on what's up to us. It's a delicate balance between not accepting situations that need to be fought and not getting upset over things that are not in our control. I'm actually with you on Groundhog day, it also took me a while to appreciate it!

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    1. You're right, we've all been dealing with a lot of restrictions during the pandemic! I wish I could report that I chose a good attitude about it, but most days that was not the case. :-(

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  10. Thanks for sharing. I’ll follow along to be more movie ideas.

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    1. It will be wonderful to have you follow along!

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  11. A very good start! Looking forward to the rest of your entries...

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    1. Thanks John! And I look forward to your comments and movie suggestions!

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  12. Trudy,

    I had to laugh when you said you got madder when your husband said that it was you who allowed yourself to be mad. Why is it we always get a little hotter when told this? :D I really enjoyed your post. The prisoner of war's insightful words is what others need now. The things we can't change, shouldn't change the way we handle ourselves. That ball is in our court alone. Awesome movie list. I love Groundhog Day! We try to watch that one every year. :)

    Thanks for visiting and checking out my Looney Tunes A-Z Art Sketch for day 1 of ACME Mail Order Catalog on Curious as a Cathy. Happy A2Zing, my friend!

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    1. And now I'm laughing because you laughed... I love laughing with friends! So glad we've connected through the A to Z Challenges over the years.

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  13. I have only seen The Truman Show (Loved it) from the list.. I am creating my own list from your posts now

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    1. That's wonderful, Farida... I hope you will enjoy the movies you add to your list!

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  14. Great to see you back this year for the A to Z Challenge, Trudy! I always enjoy reading your posts. I thought of a film I saw recently which was "Nomadland." Fern is faced with a myriad of choices when the plant she's worked at for years closes down, and she no longer has a job. She is definitely an independent woman who doesn't allow others to affect what her choices are.

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    1. Hi again, Sue! I'm glad you enjoy the posts because I appreciate your comments. Your insights and movie suggestions are wonderful!

      I haven't seen Nomadland, yet. I bet Frances McDormand gives an outstanding performance in that role.

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  15. Hey Trudy.
    I hope to read all your April posts--one day at a time.

    Another wonderful post. I would've gotten madder too (and I do) when the husband points out like that:)

    Adding Walk, Ride, rodeo to my list. Loved the cinematography in Breathe and the story of course.

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    1. I'm hoping to catch up on reading your blog posts, too!

      I really liked Walk. Ride. Rodeo... maybe because several of my high-school classmates were involved in rodeo and barrel racing. Sometimes they'd come to school with huge bruises on their legs from where they got too close to a barrel, getting their leg smashed between the barrel and the horse. So I greatly admire Amberly Snyder's grit!

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