One of the greatest things about cinema is that it is both, at the same time, a communal and deeply personal experience. We go to the movies with our friends and family; we sit in a room full of strangers to watch the same sights and hear the same sounds for the next ninety or so minutes. We all see the same film – the external experience is exactly the same – but there is no scientific formula to predict our individual reactions. Cinema, at its best, will stay with you for years to come. It gives us the chance to see the world from a different perspective and it connects us like all great art does. Throughout my young life, my perception of this magical medium has changed almost completely. From first watching films as a very young child and simply being blown away by the spectacle and seemingly endless potential of it all to now having reached a point where a great film can change the way I think. I have truly evolved as a movie lover.
There are movies that you watch, get entertained, and then forget as soon as you come out of the theater. Then, there are movies that just linger on your mind days after you have watched the film. You can’t stop thinking either about the characters or the moments in the film. Sometimes, even the concept of the film itself blows your mind away and you keep going back to what you saw on-screen. Personally, I enjoy the “thinking” movies the most. When I get a lingering feeling that I can’t brush off my mind is when I know I have watched a great film. And this list comprises of top films that I think will make you think about life. You can also watch some of these best movies that make you think on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu.
20. The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Perhaps it is best to start from the very beginning and one of the first films I can remember falling in love with. There were, of course, others: I was young enough to grow up with Sam Raimi’s take on Spider-Man; I loved Disney’s The Lion King; and I wasn’t quite sure yet exactly why I liked Kate Winslet in Titanic so much… None of these films, however, can match my earliest memories of The Mark of Zorro. I was so obsessed with it that I became the one kid at school who could amaze my teachers simply by knowing who Basil Rathbone was.
The film itself opened me up to a world of adventure I hadn’t experienced before. It contained swashbuckling adventure (which later prepared me for Victor Fleming’s The Adventures of Robin Hood), wonderful lines that have stayed with me my entire life and a fantastic duel between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone that still puts me on the edge of my seat today. It’s strange how certain details came back to me as I rediscovered the film more recently: costumes, forgotten banter between the hero and villain – even swords hung on the walls of sets. It goes to show the power that cinema has to burn images into our minds. It was no overly complex film – it’s a good old fashioned, black and white tale of good versus evil and action and adventure – but it introduced me to a world that I haven’t left since.
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