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Most spiritually enlightening films ever made

By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:28:00 03/18/2011

Filed Under: Cinema, Belief (Faith), Entertainment (general)

MANILA, Philippines?Many of the new films produced and shown these days are of the trendily cynical and even nihilistic sort?so, what?s a movie buff looking for inspiration and positive values to do? Watch much more inspiring old movies, that?s what, like the films cited by the Vatican on the 100th anniversary of cinema, as some of the most spiritually enlightening films ever made. Some sterling examples:

?A Man For All Seasons,? on the last seven years of Thomas More, Henry VIII?s trusted chancellor, who met a martyr?s death rather than compromise his conscience during a period of religious turmoil in England.

Lost souls

?La Strada? is Federico Fellini?s somber picture of lost souls?Anthony Quinn as a circus strongman and Giulietta Massina as the poor waif who struggles to keep her spirit from being crushed by the brute she serves.

?The Gospel According to St. Matthew,? directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, succeeds in placing the viewer within the Gospel events, avoiding the artificiality and melodramatic excesses of most biblical movie epics.

?The Mission? powerfully and perceptively contrasts a nonviolent priest (Jeremy Irons) and one (Robert De Niro) who leads the Indian against a colonial army.

?Au Revoir Les Enfants.? When the Gestapo discovers that a priest has hidden three Jewish boys in a catholic boys? school, he and the boys are arrested and deported to concentration camps.

Stolen bicycle

?The Bicycle Thief.? A simple yet compelling study in desperation as a worker must find his stolen bicycle or lose his new job.

?The Burmese Harp.? Badly wounded in Burma at the end of World War II, a Japanese soldier is nursed back to health by a Buddhist monk, then devotes himself to searching for the remains of dead soldiers to give them a decent burial.

?Decalogue,? produced for Polish television, is a series of 10 hour-long programs that explores the contemporary meaning of the 10 Commandments as seen in the lives of residents of an apartment complex.

?Gandhi? is a superb portrait of India?s great political and spiritual leader that focuses on his use of non-violence and hunger strikes to bring together the diverse peoples of India and unify them as a nation.

Guardian angel

?It?s A Wonderful Life.? A seasonal favorite about the joys and trials of a good man who, facing financial ruin, contemplates suicide until his guardian angel shows him how meaningful his life has been to those around him.

?Schindler?s List.? A moving account of an opportunistic German businessman who risks his life to save the Jews working for him.

?Wild Strawberries.? An old scholar regrets his failures and disappointments in his personal relationships?but rises above them to achieve a liberating sense of peace and ?Modern Times.? Charlie Chaplin?s insightful fable of man versus machine stresses the artificiality of industrialized society.

?Andrei Rublev.? A Russian production about a 15th-century monk who perseveres in painting icons despite the civil disruptions and cruel turmoil of his times.

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