Thursday, April 15, 2021

Movies reflect human needs: Meaning and purpose

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

ThemeMovies reflect human needs...


Meaning and purpose


Image from storyblocks.com
Life never ceases to have meaning; even suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. (Victor Frankl)

The difference between happy people and unhappy ones is that happy people have found a use for themselves, like a good tool. (Barbara Kingsolver
Upon asking my then three-year-old to put away the toys he'd scattered around the living room, he asked, "Why?"

"Because having a clean home makes mama happy."

He ignored my request.

I told him again, to clean up the mess, and he responded again, with "Why?"

"So we won't trip and hurt ourselves."

He ignored my request.

I can't recall how many "why"s we went through, or how many different reasons I responded with (even including the exasperated, "Because I told you to!"), but he finally asked, "Does God want me put my toys away?"

That caught me by surprise, so I took a moment to consider it... obedience is important to Him, as is cleanliness..."Yes, as a matter of fact, He does."

To which my son responded, "Oh! Why didn't you say so?" and immediately cleaned up his mess.

There's something about finding meaning and purpose--the why--to what we do that motivates us humans.

When characters in books or films find a purpose to what they need to do, it's usually a turning point... launching them into action. And in some stories, reflecting back and recognizing the meaning, helps the character find satisfaction and peace.

  • Based on Mitch Albom's novel, a deceased man (John Voight) meets five people from his past who help him understand his life had meaning. 
  • When Scott Voss (Kevin James) finds a purpose--to raise money to save the music department in the school--it carries over into other areas of his life, including his dating skills, and the way he teaches his biology class.
Just Mercy (2019)
  • Civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) is driven by purpose... "to provide legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons." (quote found on his EJI website here; "My Take" review found here)
127 Hours (2010)
  • Trapped in a crevice, Aron (James Franco) almost gives up on survival... until a vision of his future life gives him purpose... and the strength to take the extreme measures required to free himself. (Based on a true story.)
Soul (2020)
  • A Disney animated film that explores purpose and meaning, and what gives each soul spark.

What movie(s) reflecting meaning and purpose would you add? Can you think of a movie character who moved forward--took action--when they understood why they needed to? 


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

14 comments:

  1. We watched Soul at Christmas on Disney+, a treat for the kids with the cinemas closed - I think the adults ended up enjoying it more than the kids! A very touching film.
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/15/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-m/

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    1. My grandkids have access to Disney+ so I watched Soul at their house. While scrolling through movie titles, I saw lots of good ones on that streaming channel. I might have to go camp out at their place and binge on some movies.

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  2. Great movie list, I don't think I know any of them. Thanks for sharing!
    Quilting Patchwork & Appliqué

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    1. Maybe you'll get a chance to watch one or more of them sometime!

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  3. I'm sure I can think of a movie reflecting meanings and purposes but when I watch a movie, I don't go looking for anything. Movies are to entertain and if I find some meaning or learn something new from watching them, then, that's great.

    Have a lovely day.

    My A-Z posts are here.

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    1. That's been a challenge for me while preparing these posts. I watch movies for entertainment and anything I learn is a bonus! When I decided on this theme, I started watching (and re-watching) movies galore and pondering on which topic(s) it might go with. Hey... that added "purpose" to my movie binging! :-)

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  4. I read Mitch Albom's book but don't think I've seen the movie. 127 hours looks like a good one too!
    Janet’s Smiles




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    1. Mitch Albom was the commencement speaker when I graduated ten years ago from the University of Utah. Very inspiring speech. I admire his work.

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  5. My favorite movie comes to mind, It's a Wonderful Life. While he doesn't realize it during one extremely dark moment, George comes to see how his life has always had meaning and purpose. Weekends In Maine

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    1. Oh yes! That's an excellent example. Thank you!

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  6. There is a film starring Jim Carrey that I think is one of his best: The Majestic. His character suffers amnesia, and a small town mistakes him for one of their own. I can't say much more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it, but Jim Carrey does a fantastic job in this straight role. Charming movie where meaning and purpose figure significantly.

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    1. Oh wow, I forgot all about The Majestic. It's been a long time since I've seen that, I want to see it again!

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  7. Trudy,

    I think just about any movie one can find meaning or purpose but it's not something I initially think of when I pick out a title to watch. I do enjoy those feel good films, especially around the holidays. There's nothing better to see grumpy or selfish person get their priorities in order.

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    1. Me too... I enjoy feel good films, and seeing a grumpy or selfish character get their priorities in order. Sometimes those films help me get my priorities straight, too.

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