We all see greatness in ourselves. However, some of us either doubt its existence, believing it’s an illusion created by our narcissism, or simply lack the courage to actualise it, fearing rejection and failure. Whatever the case may be for you, this list of inspiring and life affirming films stand as a demonstration of just how wondrous we can be when we choose to believe in our greatness and, through dogged determination, reach our potential.
1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel)
Directed by Julian Schnabel and written by Ronald Harwood, this French language film tells the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man who suffers a massive stroke that leaves him with a condition called locked-in syndrome. In near complete physical paralysis, with the exception of his respiratory system and left eye, he eventually resolves to begin the painstaking process of writing a memoir about his experience, through a system called partner-assisted scanning: which involved a person slowly reciting the alphabet and Bauby blinking his left eye when they landed on the right letter.
That memoir became The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
2. Life is Beautiful (1997, Roberto BenignThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel)
A comedy-drama set in the World War II era, about a Jewish Italian named Guido Orefice who shields his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp by tricking him into believing that it is all an elaborate game. As a result of Guido’s efforts, his son grows up to live untainted to by the horrors of the Holocaust.
3. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006, Gabriele Muccino)
A biographical drama based on Chris Gardner’s mammoth efforts to overcome homelessness and eventually provide for his son in excess. It is a kind and heart-warming reminder that as hard as times may be, they are never forever.
4. Peaceful Warrior (2006, Victor Salva)
A lesson in the virtues of being present, a vivid illustration of the peace found in being one with the moment (and distancing oneself from the moment’s outcome) – Victor Salva’s Peaceful Warrior tells the story of a young gymnast’s journey towards enlightenment after having suffered a crippling road accident.
5. Rocky (1976, Sylvester Stallone)
Many of you won’t be surprised to see this film listed but for those few who are unaware, Rocky tells the story of a small time club fighter wasting his potential before he takes an opportunity to turn his life around. His efforts culminate in one of the biggest displays of guts and dogged determination ever projected on a silver screen. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky stands as one of the ultimate celebrations of pure, unfettered grit!
6. Lady Bird (2017, Greta Gerwig)
A coming-of-age comedy-drama set in Sacramento, California about a hopelessly awkward high-school senior and her turbulent relationship with her mother. Not to say too much, as this is a brand new release – the film aptly details the flaws in both the protagonist and her mother, while shedding light on the virtues of living an authentic life despite the hardship and turmoil involved in working towards that life.