At base level, TV and movies can simply be chewing gum for the eyes or easy entertainment. However, at their absolute best they can literally change our lives – sending us some kind of personal message or offering answers, hope and inspiration for how to move forward through our lives. When we have watched a well-made movie or TV program which illustrates courage, defiance and triumph or just paints a picture of an ordinary life handled in some extraordinary way, it can move us to re-evaluate our own life and implement changes. Sometimes these great movies and TV shows can simply make us grateful for our life, count our blessings and help flip negativity to positivity.
These are four of that type of TV show and film which have rocked my world and inspired me.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 1997 to 2003
I didn’t watch this show from the beginning but was eventually dragged almost kicking and screaming and very skeptical by an already converted Buffy enthusiast. I didn’t want to watch a small blond girl kicking ten bells out of vampires but strangely enough this is the least of what this wonderful TV series is about. The supernatural and vampire slaying is just the platform used to tell tales of very human struggles, conflicts and issues.
There is humor, drama, tragedy, failure, heroism, courage, cowardice, self-sacrifice and self-preservation – in fact every human emotion is drawn to the fore – we laugh, we cry, we rage and we hurt.
Through 7 seasons we watch the characters grow and mature at a realistic rate until we come to feel we know them as friends. We watch them fail, make mistakes and stray so far off the right path we wonder if they will ever be found again. We watch them rise above their struggles and we watch them triumph. Some of the most important issues of society as a whole are addressed here (including all the shades of grey which that might involve) along with very personal stories and struggles which all of us will be familiar with. Not once but a thousand times did ‘Buffy’ make me rethink my life, my perspectives, my goals and my values. Ultimately, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ inspired me and continues to inspire me more than any other film or TV show I have ever seen.
On a Clear Day – 2005
This gritty UK-made film has us watching 55 year old Frank fail at every turn with his family, his work and his life in general. Even his failings are not spectacular but mundane everyday small tragedies which are happening around all of us, all the time. Frank is ordinary which is why, when he suddenly takes it into his head to attempt a cross-channel swim without any swimming talent or even a starting fitness point, his family and friends laugh at him. Much to our shame we laugh along.
Frank and his family’s story carry us along on a truly inspiring journey – right up until the end.
There is nothing cheesy or schmaltzy here and Hollywood happy endings play no part but it is nonetheless heart-warming and thought-provoking through its realistic platform of rawness – a signature mark of British-made films. Frank’s ordinariness and ultimately his ordinary heroism will give each of us something to connect and relate to.
It’s a Wonderful Life -1946
With all the films which have come after it, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ hardly seems to be original in either it’s theme or conclusion but if you can watch this and not be touched then your heart must be made of stone.
George Bailey is on the verge of committing suicide on Christmas Eve having gradually watched one dream after another slip from his hands. His guardian angel intercedes and shows him, through a series of flashbacks, all the lives he has changed and touched and how ultimately he has played a hugely significant part in creating the community which thrives around him.
The film makes us ponder on how the tiniest of our acts can lead to the most momentous things – each starting and going away from us like a ripple in a pond. This in turn urges us to evaluate our own attitudes and perspectives. We all get so tied up in the small stuff that sometimes we fail to see the bigger and rather more revealing, beautiful picture.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004
Initially you will wonder what on earth is going on in this film. From that intriguing start it goes on to explore the emotions of pain, broken hearts and grief and poses a question which each and every person who has seen this film must have pondered on. Would you, if you could, dispose of all your pain and misery, even if that meant wiping your memory of all that caused it?
As the film develops we are urged to really look at what pain is – not just as a challenging emotion but as the other side of the coin to beautiful and wonderful things. Pain is not possible unless we have cared deeply first and quite possibly had all the love and happiness that brought with it.
Incredibly thought provoking, this film also teaches us about accepting life with all its ups and downs, all the good and bad and what part emotion plays in our lives.