We rented an obscure movie entitled Powaqqatsi the other night. "Powaqqatsi" is from the Hopi language and means an entity, a way of life, that consumes the life forces of other beings in order to further its own life. The entity in Powaqqatsi is the North (the new world) and the one being destroyed is the South (the old world). A montage of images and music (there are no words during the entire movie, so beware if you were looking for a plot) reflect that the new way of life driven by technology is placing many cultures around the world in danger of extinction. The film doesn't preach an agenda of anti-technology, but rather shows the consequences of what we have done in the past and the danger of where we are heading.
On that note, I thought I'd list a few of my favorite movies that have a poignant message (by the way, Lance Brock gave me the idea of creating a list of movies).
1. The Constant Gardener. We saw this movie when we returned from Africa and were moved by the authentic images from the slums of Nairobi and the beautiful countryside of Kenya. Moreover, the film has an indicting message for corporations that seek gain at the expense of oppressed people. It also reminds me that helping one person, even when I can't help everyone, is still a worthwhile endeavor.
2. Gandhi. Ben Kingsley does a masterful job of portraying the revolutionary in this epic from the 80's that is way too long and pretty cheesy at times. Nonetheless, I'm challenged every time I see the subversive yet non-violent methods that this little old man uses to topple the colonialism of the powerful British empire. I think our violence is at least partly a result of a lack of imagination and creativity.
3. Born Into Brothels. A documentary about children who grow up in the brothels of Calcutta's red light district and are given a new opportunity by a woman who exposes them to the art of photography. These children reach above their extreme poverty and find hope through one person's love and compassion.
4. Hotel Rwanda. During the 90's, I didn't even realize that genocide was taking place in Rwanda. This reminds me of how myopic we Americans can be. I'm sure that similar films could be made about Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
5. Who Killed the Electric Car? I didn't know that GM produced an electric car, and subsequently pulled it off the market. This documentary made me wish I had an electric car instead of the gas-powered car that I drive (not that I'm coveting). Hopefully, sober minds and economic demand will prevail, and one day these cars will replace our gas-guzzlers.
6. The U.S. vs. John Lennon. John Lennon was a peace activist. He protested against the Vietname War to the point that he was under surveillance by the American government, which tried repeatedly to deport him. It turns out, he had a lot more to say than I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
7. Why We Fight. This documentary chronicles the development of America's military industrial complex and it's role in our global imperialism. Although we're told that our country fights for democracy, much of it is really just about money and keeping our defense industry intact. Apparently, George Washington said our country should never have a standing army. Unfortunately, we've failed to see his wisdom.
Do you have any other movies to add to this list?