Films are often looked upon as inspiring stories that might even be able to help their audience with life-changing decisions.
Seeing characters on the screen making similar decisions to what we face in our daily life, can help us with deciding what will be the next step. Sure, we might not be global superstars or travel through a multiverse, but the human decisions the heroes face might be closer to our real life than expected.
Films help with escaping reality for a moment and transporting us to faraway lands and different times but can also teach inspiring lessons applicable to our own lives.
Every year, inspirational films keep getting released. 2022 was no exception. Here are five films released this year that have a great life lesson to teach.
Elvis (2022, Baz Luhrmann)
Director Baz Luhrmann likes to make big movies, and his latest hit film Elvis is no exception. The director of Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, tackles the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s life story in this 2022 flick. Of course, he does this in his characteristically over-the-top style.
Luhrmann makes it clear from the very first minute that you are not watching real life, but a film. And a very well-choreographed one.
Flashbacks are intertwined with current events, which makes it hard for the audience to distinguish the two in the opening montage. It immediately puts you in the shoes of the main character. It might have very well been that to Elvis Presley himself life felt as overwhelming and out-of-control as the opening montage.
The actors are phenomenal in their roles. Tom Hanks’ accent as Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Parker might be a bit confusing at times (it took nearly half the movie for the entirely Dutch audience I was watching the film with to decipher if it was meant to be a Dutch accent Hanks was putting on), but star Austin Butler shines as the titular character.
The film is inspirational as it shows that despite all the tough times and people trying to take advantage of Elvis, the singer’s love for music persevered until the very end. It also shows that fame and fortune are not everything.
Happiness in life cannot be bought, no matter how successful you are. It is not the first time that a movie teaches this lesson, but it is quite something to see in connection to one of the most iconic and beloved singers of all time.
Where the Crawdads Sing (2022, Olivia Newman)
Based on the global bestseller, Where the Crawdads Sing is about Kya Clark and her life in the marshlands of North Carolina. She lives an unusual life.
Essentially raising herself after her family abandoned her in the marshes. She learns to survive on her own and to live in harmony with the nature around her.
The film is part coming-of-age of main character Kya, and part murder mystery. Golden boy Chase Andrews is found dead at the beginning of the film underneath the local fire tower. Of course, the townspeople immediately start to suspect outsider and “marsh girl” Kya.
Where the Crawdads Sing is not just one of the better book-to-movie adaptations out there, it also has some good life lessons to teach.
The movie is not afraid to tackle the concept of prejudice against outsiders, or anyone not fitting in with the status quo, head-on. Kya does not fit in with the rest of the neighbouring town, so she is immediately blamed for the murder without significant evidence pointing her way.
A concept that’s explored and mentioned in the multiple court scenes.
The movie also lingers a lot on the beauty of nature. It teaches the inspiring life lesson that if we are respectful of nature, it might also help us in return. Learning how to live with and treat the nature of the marshlands respectfully, is what keeps Kya alive and even helps her get out of the difficult situations she finds herself in throughout the movie.
See How They Run (2022, Tom George)
2022 has no shortage of good murder mystery movies. Where the Crawdads Sing has a good murder plot going on, and the Agatha Christie novel adaptation Death on the Nile stylishly captures the next adventure of Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot as he solves a murder on a boat on the Nile this time around.
A standout of the genre this year, however, is See How They Run. Even if it’s just for its originality. The movie is not based on previous source material but does draw inspiration from popular London play Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
The whole film breathes Christie. From the central mystery to the characters and the theories and motives the main protagonists keep coming up with.
See How They Run is not afraid to add humour to the scene and has a cinematic quality similar to a Wes Anderson movie. It embraces film language, as it cleverly intertwines flashbacks and exposition in a way only a movie can do. The past and the present talk to each other.
The platonic relationship between the two main characters, Saoirse Ronan’s police force rookie Constable Stalker and Sam Rockwell’s grumpy Inspector Stoppard, is inspirational.
Throughout the film, the two constantly inspire each other to be the best version of themselves. Especially Constable Stalker’s relentless positivity and inability to give up is inspiring: it’s good to keep chasing your dreams and keep fighting for the truth to prevail.
Inspector Stoppard, though, does pose a good counterbalance to the Constable’s endless energy, as he rails in her more outlandish ideas. Together, they teach a good life lesson: keep going, but do not tire yourself out chasing what does not work at all.
Enola Holmes 2 (2022, Harry Bradbeer)
Millie Bobby Brown’s Enola Holmes is back for round two, in this new 2022 release. And like its 2020 predecessor, this film is filled with girl power. Enola Holmes tries to prove herself equal to elder brother Sherlock in this sequel, while the suffragette protests are afoot in the background.
After having saved the life of a young lord in the first film, Enola Holmes decides to open her own detective agency but quickly finds out it’s hard to be taken seriously as a young girl in Victorian London society.
When a girl working in a match factory enlists the help of Enola to find her missing sister, the film does not just start to dive into the central mystery but also the concept of feminism and the role of women in Victorian society. The film is not afraid to get a bit political as it mixes its murder mystery plot with real-life historical events.
Just like its 2020 predecessor, Enola Holmes 2 shows its titular character as capable and heroic. Enola is the one setting the plot in motion by pursuing the mystery of the missing match girl. And she’s not afraid to create some trouble on her way to solving the case.
The titular character is indeed one of the more inspiring aspects of the film. She’s a good role model for many young girls as she does not let the men in her life completely define her and is not afraid to put her needs first. However, as Enola’s mother tells her near the end, it’s okay to need someone too.
Alone you can be strong, but together you can be even stronger. The film teaches the important lessons that it’s good to be self-sufficient and to put your needs central.
But it’s also a great feeling doing things together. Don’t be afraid to need someone once in a while, it makes you stronger too.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022, Sam Raimi)
Marvel’s 28th entry into their cinematic universe did not prove to be the universally loved classic that other Marvel films of that size were.
The expectations were high for the film, and therefore maybe impossible to meet. Still, it was one of the more adventurous Marvel entries in recent years, not afraid to stray a bit from the Marvel formula.
The film mostly managed to do this by turning a beloved hero from previous Marvel films into the main villain. Doctor Strange 2 closely picks up where Disney+ hit series WandaVision left off.
The loss and grief Wanda Maximoff experienced in WandaVision is what in this film turns her into the villainous Scarlet Witch: a powerful being trying to put an end to her grief by reuniting with her sons in another universe.
It’s this plot threat that catapults titular character Doctor Strang into a journey through the multiverse.
Wanda’s motivation behind her villainy being so relatively small scale, she just wants to reunite with her sons, is refreshing compared to the usual ‘taking over the world in pursuit of power’ plot that drives most superhero movies. Although, it is sometimes a bit hard to watch a once beloved hero completely destroy the armies of the protagonists we are meant to be rooting for.
The inspiring part is, therefore, not as much to be found in the film itself as it is in the choices that were made behind the scenes. It is a brave move to turn a beloved hero into an all-out villain.
It’s brave to make her sympathetic and her story about the universally understandable concept of grief. It makes the audience almost root for this villain. And it’s brave for the director to put so much of his own vision into such a big blockbuster.
Sam Raimi’s talent for horror is on full display in various scenes throughout the movie. The film never goes fully gory or scary but does have some scenes you would not have expected in a family-friendly Marvel film.
The whole endeavour comes off as bold, even if the film did not sit well with everyone. Still, it’s commendable that the director dared to go there. And it’s an inspiring lesson in risk-taking.
Even if you’re not about to direct a multimillion-dollar budget movie anytime soon, you can still apply the lesson that it’s good to take risks and let go of your, successful, comfort zone once in a while. You never know how it might pay off.
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