importance of cinema

These award-winning movies teach valuable life-lessons

Through solid storytelling, movies sometimes stir a change within us. Good cinema teaches us lessons of resilience, hard work and being true to oneself.

Life and art have a beautiful bond. Anytime life inspires us, we can convey it through art in some form or another. Cinema, music, poetry and many other forms of art showcase how deeply the human mind and heart feel inspired to create. It is a known fact that art imitates life. But what is even more interesting is that art helps us understand life better. And there is nothing more potent and entertaining as cinema. Indeed, the importance of cinema can be felt when humans realise their lives are nothing but a shared experience.

Of all art, we possibly draw the most inspiration from cinema. Through solid storytelling, movies sometimes stir a change within us. Good cinema teaches us lessons of resilience, hard work and being true to oneself. With the buzz of the 94th Academy Awards upon us, here is a list of some great award-winning films, from the latest to the oldest, that demonstrate the role cinema plays in our lives.

Nomadland (2021)

Written and directed by Chloe Zhao, Nomadland is the story of a woman who journeys along the great American West in her sixties. After losing everything in life due to the Great Recession, the protagonist played by Frances McDormand finds odd jobs and lives out her days travelling and inhabiting her van. The movie, based on a book by the same name by Jessica Bruder, is a great example of art imitating life as the story captures some of the real modern-day nomads of America. As McDormand’s character travels the long and winding highways and meets people living like her in the margins, her pain and loss begin to ebb through their shared experiences.

An unconventional life, an unusual place to call home, the film teaches us that solitude is an underrated virtue. The power of art is such that when we watch the unravelled lives of these ordinary humans, restless from the economic downfall, we learn to appreciate our lives more.

Parasite (2019)

This Korean blockbuster may not be everyone’s cup of tea but winning the Academy Award has made one thing clear—the concept of class distinction is a harsh reality.

The house help is someone who is absolutely necessary for your daily life to function smoothly and yet it is the same house help who is considered lowly. While Bong Joon-ho’s film takes a turn for the bizarre and entertains us as much as it thrills, it leaves us thinking of how similar we are when it comes to class division and our treatment of those who live in poverty. It is a great example of art imitating life.

The main takeaway from this amazing work of cinema is that we say or believe things that are not just hurtful but also point at a superiority complex against the working class of society. The award-winning movie begs a relook at how we treat our house help and other staff.

12 Years a Slave (2014)

12 Years a Slave is about the life of a free man living in America that changes for the worse as he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The Steve McQueen directed film won the prestigious Academy Award for bringing to the silver screen the biographical book by David Wilson. The story is as much about slavery as it is about winning back one’s freedom. The protagonist Solomon Northup shows us how a man refuses to give up on hope even in the face of the harshest challenges.

Resilience can be a virtue in the long run as Northup finally gets his freedom after 12 years of horrendous misery. The film also teaches us a number of lessons along the way; using one’s wisdom if unarmed, being patient for a positive outcome and moving on from hurt to healing, no matter how long and hard the road seems.

The King’s Speech (2010)

Based on King George VI’s real life, The King’s Speech is a British biographical film that sees the to-be king work on his stammering problem and overcomes it. A heartfelt movie about how the most powerful man in the world, the future king, has a challenge that reduces him to a nervous human and how he wins back his sense of self through practice, grit and an able teacher. The king not just becomes a confident man who overcomes his stammering with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist but also leads his country through World War II as well.

The importance of cinema of this kind lies in how such brilliant tales of facing adversity is made available to future generations to be inspired from. Even though the man with a debilitating speech issue is about to be king, he shows humility enough to take help when needed. It goes on to show that one is never too high or mighty to ask for help.

Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

A cult favourite of many, Slumdog Millionaire shows the rags to riches story of Jamal, a poor Indian boy from the slums of Mumbai. The interesting part of the Danny Boyle directed film is that the boy who is now a young adult, is seen participating in a popular game show and answering every question correctly through his life experiences.

They say nothing goes to waste. Everything we learn and pick up in life’s journey comes of use one day. This Oscar-winning film sure proves just that—even without a formal education, Dev Patel’s Jamal is able to find answers to tough questions as his life has been about lessons one too many.  From losing his mother, living homeless to becoming a thief and changing his life through odd jobs, Jamal’s life is a masterclass in beating adversity.

Million Dollar Baby (2005)

Everyone needs a good mentor in life. The award-winning movie Million Dollar Baby showcases the value of having a good teacher in the life of a student. A story about a young woman who beats the odds to be a champion boxer with able mentoring from her old coach, the movie won hearts and inspired many women to take up sports that are dominated by males.

When we watch this movie of an underdog winning against the naysayers, we see how art helps us understand life better. It also teaches us that nobody is weaker or stronger and labelling people as such because of their gender, age or class is against human rights. People can achieve whatever they set their hearts and minds to.

Cinema like this helps unearth the hidden treasures of life.

Life is Beautiful (1997)

This heartfelt Italian comedy by Roberto Benigni is a brilliant tale of a father teaching his son the value of life in the backdrop of the Holocaust. With supreme imagination, cheerfulness and the power of love, Benigni’s Guido teaches his son to find happiness anywhere, even in the midst of the world’s most horrific genocide.

This piece of brilliant movie-making teaches us resilience in the face of massive loss. What may seem like an insurmountable mountain of difficulties, can be steadily climbed upon with small efforts toward happiness. Life is Beautiful won not just the Oscar that year but also our hearts with its touching life lessons.

Forrest Gump (1994)

The power of cinema can be described beautifully by Forrest Gump. In this Tom Hanks smash hit, the audience is taken on an emotional journey of highs and lows along with Forrest Gump, who many might call ‘simple’ but who actually is a good, hard-working human being.

Every journey that Gump takes in his life, from joining the Army to starting a shrimp business in his friend’s name to loving a woman through all her ups and downs, is a lesson in patience, practice and resilience.

The movie interestingly also makes one believe in the saying ‘fortune favours the brave’ as we see Gump become increasingly popular with every honest step he takes in life—even when he is dealing with loss, heartbreak and loneliness in his personal life.

Schindler’s List (1994)

With Holocaust as the backdrop, very few stories can tell a tale of happiness. But Schindler’s List does exactly that. It is the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman and member of the Nazi party who after seeing the persecution of the Jews in Poland, tried to save hundreds of his Jewish employees.

The film is a chilling yet heart-winning telling of how Schindler used his business and money to save his Jewish workforce during the modern world’s biggest genocide. Played by a brilliant Liam Neeson, Schindler is a lesson in being human—from being a member of the Nazi party, a staunch businessman to a compassionate saviour.

In this award-winning movie, the audience learns it’s never too late to turn a new leaf and do good for the sake of others. It is only when we uplift others, do we shine. This movie which is set at the bleakest time in humanity’s history, tells us to try and do good within our capacity. Or even go beyond, as Schindler did.




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