• Philosophical Films


    Below is a categorized list of about 200 noteworthy films that deal with philosophical and religious themes. For a more comprehensive list of around 500 titles, see the Philosophy and Film Database. Call numbers are included for Videos and DVDs in UT Martin’s library.


    Fight Club (1999; young executive seeks for meaning through anarchism and violence)

    Gates of Heaven (1778; Errol Morris documentary explores impact of relocated pet cemetary) [VIDEO 4556]

    Ghost World (2001; cynical young girl seeks for meaning while hurting everyone in her path) [DVD 123]

    Leaving Las Vegas (1995; an alcoholic and a hooker enable each other) [DVD 100]

    Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983; series of avant-garde skits) [VIDEO 3448]

    O Lucky Man (1973; Coffee salesman travels UK searching for meaning) [VIDEO 4566-67]

    On the Beach (1959; last people alive after nuclear war search for meaning; remade in 2000) [VIDEO 2155 (1959 version)]

    Quadrophenia (1979; young british mod self-destructs in quest for meaning)

    The Razor's Edge (1946; from Somerset Maugham novel about quest for truth through Hindu mysticism; 1984 remake starring Bill Murray) [VIDEO 2827 (1946 version); VIDEO 4410 (1984 version)]

    SLC punk! (1999; punk youth struggle to find individuality and meaning) [DVD 34]

    The Swimmer (1968; a man swims in several neighborhood pools, revealing his self-deception) [DVD 59]

    The Trial (1963; from Kafka’s surreal novel, a man is arrested but never told why) [VIDEO 1506]

    Stalker (1979; science fiction story of a post-apocalyptic world of despair; in Russian) [DVD 119]


    The 13th Floor (1999; murder mystery set within a virtual reality in which people don’t know that they are only simulations) [DVD 26]

    Dark City (1998; science fiction story) [DVD 121]

    Existenz (1999; virtual reality device test marketed it on a group of people) [DVD 104]

    The Matrix (1999; human minds are unknowingly connected to a virtual reality computer, and a messianic figure attempts to free everyone) [DVD 17]

    Open your Eyes (1997; science fiction story, remade as Vanilla Sky; in Spanish) [VIDEO 4265]

    Total Recall; (1990; science fiction story) [DVD 106]

    Vanilla Sky (2001; science fiction story) [DVD 114]

    Waking Life (2001; animated film about a man who floats in and out of philosophical discussions about the nature of reality) [DVD 99]


    Brief History of Time (1992; documentary based on Stephen Hawking’s life and book) [VIDEO 2311]

    Contact (1997; explores plausibility of extraterrestrial life) [DVD 8]

    Mindwalk (1991; poet, politician and physicist discuss implications of quantum physics) [VIDEO 4514]

    Primer (2004; startup company creates time machine)

    Pi: Faith in Chaos (1998; mathematician tries to predict the stock market)


    A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001; child robot longs for human mother) [DVD 23]

    Bicentennial Man (1999; follows robot’s 200-year quest to become human) [DVD 15]

    Blade Runner (1982; science fiction story about human/android distinction) [DVD 46]

    Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (1997; documentary about four people discusses animal and artificial intelligence) [DVD 11]

    Final Fantasy (2001; animated science fiction film about spiritual residue of alien creatures) [DVD 27]

    Ghost in the Shell (1995; animated Japanese science fiction film about artificial intelligence) [DVD 12]

    I, Robot (2004; Robots revolt against humans)


    Being John Malkovich (1999; man gives tours of John Malkovich’s consciousness) [DVD 10]

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004; man and woman consciously lose memories and struggle with their identies)

    Memento (2000; man with short term memory loss tries to solve wife’s murder) [DVD 30]

    Multiplicity (1996; comedy about man with three clones) [DVD 25]

    Solaris (1972 in Russian; planet re-creates dead people based on memories; 2002 English remake) [DVD 229 (Russian), DVD 231 (English)]


    A Clockwork Orange (1971; criminal brainwashed into becoming nonviolent) [DVD 7]

    Gattaca (1997; man struggles to overcome biological destiny) [DVD 38]

    Groundhog Day (1993; man keeps reliving the same day) [DVD 32]

    Hilary and Jackie (1998; biography of Jacqueline du Pré who mentally degenerates) [DVD 36]

    Minority Report (2002; people imprisoned for predisposition to commit crimes) [DVD 117]


    Brother's Keeper (1992; documentary on retarded elderly man charged with mercy killing his brother)

    Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989; explores the grounds of morality in a Godless world) [DVD 22]

    The Emperor's Club (1989; prep school classics teacher tries to teach virtue)

    House of Sand and Fog (2003; two people fight over ownership of home)

    I Am David (2004; 12 year old boy escapes communist concentration camp and distrusts everyone)

    In the Company of Men (1997; egoistic corporate middle managers exploit deaf woman)

    Lorenzo’s Oil (1992; biography of Lorenzo Odones explores biomedical ethics) [VIDEO 4516]


    The Boys from Brazil (1978; Mengela makes clones of Hitler) [DVD 248]

    The Island (2005; science fiction film explores cloning) [DVD 535]

    Multiplicity (1996; comedy about man with three clones) [DVD 25]

    The Sixth Day (2000; science fiction film explores cloning) [DVD 171]


    Brokeback Mountain (2005; drama of two gay sheepherders)

    Capturing the Friedmans (2003; documentary on father and son wrongly imprisoned for child molestation)

    Kinsey (2004; true story of Alfred Kinsey's research into human sexuality)

    The Laramie Project (2002; retells true story about a murdered homosexual)

    The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996; biography of publisher of Hustler Magazine explores pornography and free speech)

    Saved! (2004; young girl in Christian highschool gets pregnant)

    Wittgenstein (1993; biography of Wittgenstein explores homosexuality)

    The Woodsman (2004; child molester released from prison)


    The Cider House Rules (1999; physician's apprentice wrestles with abortion issue) [DVD 18]

    Citizen Ruth (1996; pregnant homeless girl sparks abortion controversy) [DVD 18]

    Palindromes (2005; 13 year old girl has abortion with surgical complications)

    Rowe vs. Wade (1989; drama behind Supreme Court case explores abortion) [VIDEO 4565]

    Vera Drake (2004; 1950's British Woman imprisoned for assisting in abortions)


    Control Room (2004; documentary of Al Jazeera news network)

    Orwell Rolls in his Grave (2004; documentary describes monopolies in today's media companies) [DVD 782]

    Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004; documentary about Fox News)

    Shattered Glass (2003; true life story of disgraced journalist Stephen Glass)


    The Awful Truth (1999; Michael Moore documentary series explores social issues) [DVD 232-35]

    The Big One (1997; Michael Moore documentary, explores corporate insensitivity towards workers) [VIDEO 4560]

    A Civil Action (1999; explores corporations and environmental damage) [DVD 35]

    The Corporation (2004; explores controversies in business ethics) [DVD 458]

    Enron: The Smartes Guys in the Room (2005; documentary explores the bacKground end effects of Enron's business practices) [DVD 581]

    The Future of Food (2004; documentary about the impact of genetically engineered plants on the food supply)

    Life and Debt (2001: documentary on the effects of the International Monetary Fund on Jamaica

    McLibel (2005; documentary explores law suit brought McDonald's against British activists) [DVD 647]

    Roger and Me (1989; Michael Moore documentary, explores corporate insensitivity towards workers) [VIDEO 4417]

    Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices (2005; documentary about the social impact of Walmart's business practices) [DVD 878]

    The Yes Men (2004; two liberal activists impersonate members of the World Trade Organization)


    Balseros (2003; documentary on 1994 exodus of refugees from Cuba to Miami)

    Born Into Brothels (2004; documentary on children of prostitutes in India) [DVD 529]

    City of Joy (1992; disillusioned doctor goes to India and faces the brutal reality of the caste system) [VIDEO 4524]

    Children Underground (2001; documentary on homeless children in Romania) [DVD 577]

    Dark Days (2000; documentary of homeless people living in New York City subway tunnel)

    The Devil's Miner (2005; documentary about children working in Bolivian silver mine)

    It Was a Wonderful Life (1993; documentary about homeless women live in their cars)


    Dead Man Walking (1995; man on death row comforted by nun)

    Deadline (2004; documentary on Illinois governor George Ryan who granted clemency to death row inmates)

    The Life of David Gale (2003; philosophy professor faces the death penalty) [DVD 575]

    Mr. Death (2000; Errol Morris documentary about Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. explores death penalty, holocaust denial) [DVD 47]

    The Thin Blue Line (1988; Errol Morris documentary about an innocent man on death row) [VIDEO 2478]


    The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005; father and daughter try to maintain ecological lifestyle)

    Baraka (1992; nonverbal film documentary on the effects of modernization) [DVD 649]

    Butterfly (2000; documentary about environmental activist Julia Butterfly who lived in a tree for two years)

    The Future of Food (2004; documentary about the impact of genetically engineered plants on the food supply)

    Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1983; nonverbal film documentary on the effects of modernization) [DVD 650]

    Mindwalk (1991; poet, politician and physicist discuss interconnectedness of all things) [VIDEO 4514]


    American History X (1998; neo-Nazi rejects racism)

    The Believer (2001; true story of Danny Balint, a young New York Jew who join a neo-nazi organization)

    Crash (2005; explores varieties of racism)

    Downfall (2004; Hitler's last days) [DVD 510]

    Lost Boys of Sudan (2003; documentary on Sudanese refugees relocated in the U.S.) [VIDEO 516]

    Max (2002; fictionalized account of Hitler's racist youth)

    The Ogre (1996; naive Frenchman assists Nazis) [DVD 202]

    Promises (2001; documentary on racial attitudes of Israeli and Palestinian children)

    Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002; true story of aboriginal Australian girls who escape racist relocation policy) [DVD 170]


    The Grey Zone (2002; true story of Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz forced by the Nazis to help exterminate fellow Jews)

    Hotel Rwanda (2005; genocide in Rwanda) [DVD 582]

    The Killing Fields (1984; true story of Cambodian man fleeing from genocide) [VIDEO 2594]

    Mr. Death (2000; Errol Morris documentary about Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. explores death penalty, holocaust denial) [DVD 47]

    Nuremberg (2000; drama about WW2 war crimes trial) [DVD 19]


    All Quiet on the Western Front (1930; antiwar message from German side of WW I) [VIDEO 384]

    Deterrence (1998; remake of Failsafe explores nuclear war)

    Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004; explores US reaction to 9/11 attack) [DVD 344]

    The Fog of War (2004; Errol Morris documentary on former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara) [DVD 322]

    Hearts and Minds (1974; documentary about war atrocities in Vietnam) [VIDEO 256]

    Iraq for Sale (2006; documentary about business motives behind the US war with Iraq)

    Occupation Dreamland (2005; documentary explores army soldiers' attitudes about the US war with Iraq)

    Team America: World Police (2004; satire on American involvement in wars)

    Steal This Movie! (2000; biography of 1960s anti-war activist Abbie HOffman)

    The Weather Underground (2002; documentary of radical 1960s anti-war terrorist group)

    Why we Fight (2005; documentary about the causes of the US war with Iraq)

    Winter Soldier (1972; documentary about war atrocities in Vietnam) [DVD 813]


    1984 (1990; based on George Orwell’s novel exploring totalitarianism) [VIDEO 1668]

    Animal Farm (1952 animated film based on George Orwell’s novel exploring communist totalitarianism; 1999 remake using talking animal computer effects) [VIDEO 4395 (of 1952), DVD 20 (of 1999)]

    Antz (1998; computer animated cartoon explores individualism vs. collectivism) [VIDEO 3625]

    Equilibrium (2002; totalitarian regime controls population by suppressing emotions)

    Fountainhead (1949; Ayn Rand novel, attack on collectivism) [VIDEO 2016]

    The Last Emperor (1987; biography of Pu Yi, China's last monarch, depicts traditional Chinese religious ritual) [DVD 103]

    Lost Horizon (1937; group discovers a Tibetan utopia) [VIDEO 516]

    Reds (1981; American journalists caught up in Russian Communist Revolution


    Bowling for Columbine (2002; Michael Moore documentary explores gun control) [DVD 95]

    Lord of War (2005; an arms dealer stuggles with the consequences of his job) [DVD 708]


    I shot Andy Warhol (1996; biography of Valerie Solanas, Warhol’s would-be assassin, explores avant-garde film) [DVD 37]

    My Dinner with Andre (1981; dinner dialogue explores philosophy of theatre) [DVD 13]

    My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003; documentary architect Louis I. Kahn)

    Pollock (2000; biography of Jackson Pollock explores philosophy of art) [DVD 21]

    Rivers and Tides (2003; documentary on sculptor Andy Goldsworthy)


    The Book of Life (1998; Jesus arrives at JFK airport for his second coming, and verbally battles with Satan) [DVD 249]

    The Quarrel (1991; a conservative and a liberal Jew debate implications of the Holocaust) [DVD 107]

    The Rapture (1991; a woman’s unsuccessful quest for salvation) [VIDEO 4531]

    The Seventh Seal (1957; a disillusioned knight returns from the crusades questioning God’s existence; in Swedish) [DVD 33]

    Shadowlands (1993; biography of C.S. Lewis) [DVD 9]


    Agnes of God (1985; murder investigation in a convent explores the possibility of miracles) [DVD 105]

    Elmer Gantry (1960; manipulative evangelist) [VIDEO 369]

    Leap of Faith (1992; manipulative evangelist) [DVD 223]

    The Miracle Woman (1931; manipulative evangelist) [VIDEO 4533]

    The Next Voice You Hear (1950; God’s voice comes out of the radio) [VIDEO 4532]

    Phenomenon (1996; man seeks to understand his new supernatural abilities) [DVD 116]

    Powder (1995; allegory about unappreciated messianic figures and miracle workers) [DVD 16]

    A Question of Faith (2000; monks investigate alleged miracle in their monastery) [DVD 31]

    Resurrection (1980; woman has near-death experience after with she can miraculously heal) [VIDEO 4523]

    The Third Miracle (1999; Catholic priest investigates veracity of miracle reports) [VIDEO 4530]


    The Apostle (1998; southern evangelist seeks redemption after committing murder) [DVD 55]

    The Mission (1986; 18th century slave trader seeks redemption after committing murder) [DVD 101]

    The Reckoning (2004; medieval priest on the run for murder)


    The Devil's Playground (2002; documentary on the effects of rumspringa on Amish youth) [DVD 576]

    Holy Smoke! (2000; woman is coaxed out of a religious cult by a manipulative deprogrammer) [DVD 98]


    Serpent and the Rainbow (1988; Harvard anthropologist investigates voodoo zombification drugs) [DVD 174]


    Devi (1960; woman has vision of Hindu goddess Kali; in Hindi)

    Mahabharata (1989; six-hour drama based on Hindu classic; in Hindi)


    The Cup (1999; exiled Tibetan Buddhist youth in monastery rent TV to watch World Cup game)

    Kundun (1997; biography of Tibetan Buddhism’s 14th Dalai Lama, Kundun) [DVD 172]

    Little Buddha (1994; story of Buddha and a possible reincarnation of a Tibetan monk) [DVD 97]

    Siddhartha (1973; man during the time of Buddha seeks for enlightenment, based on Hermann Hesse’s novel) [DVD 131]

    Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East (1989; elderly Zen master befriends an orphaned boy; in Korean)


    The Chosen (1981; friendship between a liberal and conservative Jew) [DVD 126]

    Great Sadness of Zohara (1983; spiritual quest of Orthodox woman)

    Kadosh (1999; drama about Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox community; in Hebrew) [DVD 122]

    Masada (1981; six-hour drama about the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE)

    The Quarrel (1991; a conservative and a liberal Jew debate implications of the Holocaust) [DVD 107]

    Time of Favor (2000; tensions between religious and secular forces in modern Israel) [DVD 112]

    Women (1996; drama about 19th century childless wife of a Jerusalem Rabbi) [DVD 102]


    The Message (1976; biography of Muhammad)

    Khartoum (1966; story of 19th century Muslim holy warrior declaring himself to be the Madhi) [VIDEO 1069]


    Cardinal Richelieu (1935; biography of Richelieu)

    Constantine and the Cross (1962; Christianity vs. Roman Empire in 4th CN)

    Francesco (1989; biography of St. Francis) [VIDEO 4563]

    God’s Army (2000; depicts contemporary Mormon missionary experience) [DVD 265]

    The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964; movie drama of Jesus based on Matthew; in Italian) [VIDEO 320]

    Luther (2003; biography of Luther) [DVD 513]

    A Man for All Seasons (1966; Thomas More vs. Henry VIII, formation of Anglican Church) [VIDEO 20]

    Martin Luther (1953; biography of Luther)

    Quo Vadis? (1951; Christian persecution under Nero)


    Anchoress (1993; medieval catholic girl searches for religion outside of church) [DVD 120]

    The Cardinal (1963; Irish-American priest becomes a Cardinal) [DVD 128]

    Catholics (1973; Irish priest investigated for returning to Latin Mass)

    The Diary of a Country Priest (1954; young priest struggles in his first parish; in French)

    Dogma (1999; satire on traditional catholic theology) [DVD 127]

    Extramuros (1985; 16th century Spanish lesbian nuns fake stigmata; in Spanish)

    Hell House (2001; protestant fundamentalist depiction of hell on halloween)

    Mass Appeal (1984; conflict between old-school priest and young reformist seminarian) [VIDEO 4564]

    The Nun (1971; single mother forced into convent; in French) [VIDEO 4559]

    The Nun's Story (1959; nun in Belgian Congo) [VIDEO 2159]

    The Priest (1995; a secretly gay young priest replaces an older more pragmatic priest) [DVD 125]


    Barabbas (1962; Barabbas struggles to accept being pardoned in lieu of Jesus) [DVD 251]

    The Body (2001; archaeologist discovers the body of Jesus) [DVD 111]

    The Book of Life (1998; Jesus arrives at JFK airport for his second coming, and verbally battles with Satan) [DVD 249]

    The Fourth Wise Man (1985; a man tries to visit the baby Jesus but after delays sees Jesus on the cross) [DVD 230]

    The Inquiry (1987; mystery about missing body of Jesus) [VIDEO 4561]
    The Body (2001; archaeologist discovers the body of Jesus) [DVD 111]

    Jesus Christ Superstar (1973; musical explores the question of who Jesus was) [VIDEO 2235]

    Jesus of Montreal (1989; actors perform Passion Play) [VIDEO 4517]

    Last Temptation of Christ (1988; Jesus doubts his divine calling) [VIDEO 1117]

    Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979; unsuspecting bystander’s life parallels that of Jesus) [DVD 124]

    The Robe (1953; Roman guard at Jesus’ crucifixion) [VIDEO 2881]


    Black Robe (1991; Catholic and Native American) [VIDEO 3410]

    Four Days in July (1984; Irish Catholic and Protestant) [VIDEO 4562]

    Keeping the Faith (2000; Catholic priest and Jewish rabbi fall for the same girl) [DVD 118]

    The Other Side of Heaven (2002; biography of John Groberg, Mormon missionary in Tonga) [DVD 113]

    Stolen Summer (2002; Catholic boy tries to convert son of Jewish rabbi) [DVD 130]


    Inherit the Wind (1960; dramatization of Scopes Monkey Trial regarding creation and evolution) [VIDEO 319]

    Leon Morin, Priest (1961; Catholic priest confronts communist atheist; in French)

    credit: philfilms

    Sophie's World


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