7 Movies I Have Learned From

April 4, 2010

Movies aren’t all a waste of time – unless they’re movies with Seth Rogen. With a possible combination of well-edited visual presentation, scripted storyline and perfected acting method, a movie-maker can direct our minds to powerful conclusions. A movie has an advantage over a book by being able to present its story with pictures (the mind more readily accepts propositions when they are visually attached to the concept).

A great movie must do more than entertain…it should also teach or inspire. Here are seven movies that have provided lessons to improve my life. I’m sure you can add others which have instructed you.

1. “The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio” (2005): Based on a true story, the movie focuses on a woman whose husband has a terrible alcohol addiction, leading him to drink away most of his meager paycheck. The mother feeds and clothes her family (ten children) by making extra money and prizes entering writing and advertising contests, which were popular in the 1950s. The life lesson I learned: No matter how poorly you are treated, you can find some way, with God’s help, to overcome and triumph. There are options besides being a victim to circumstances.

2. “The Kid” (2000): Bruce Willis is a grown man who brings a young kid into his house. The two of them realize that the kid is actually Bruce Willis at a younger age and some sort of time warp has brought them together. The kid is disgusted at how poorly his adult life has turned out. The life lesson I learned: What I am doing today will effect the rest of my life. I owe my “future self” the best boost up possible by acting wisely today.

3. “The Pianist” (2002): In World War 2, the Nazis walled off a part of Warsaw, Poland and created a ghetto in which they placed all the Polish Jews. One of those Jews was the country’s premier concert pianist. The movie follows his survival when most of his friends and family are put to death. In the end, he survives and lives to inspire his countrymen with his incredible skills. Life Lesson learned: There are times when it is an accomplishment just to survive in order to find your best day some time down the line.

4. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946): George Bailey is the founder and proprietor of Bailey Savings and Loan, a benevolent lending institution in fictional Bedford Falls. When George’s uncle misplaces money the same day the bank examiner visits, George despairs of his life and its seeming failures. He tries to commit suicide, but an angel saves his life. When George comments that everyone around him would have been better off if he had never been born, the angel shows him EXACTLY what life would have been like for the inhabitants of Bedford Falls if he had not been born. George witnesses a world turned upside down and decidedly more evil because he was not in it. Life Lesson Learned: On those horrible days when it seems like I have made no difference whatsoever, I can be encouraged that every good decision I make will have many repercussions in the lives of others.

5. “Iron Will” (1994): When Will Stoneman’s father passes away, the family is forced to surrender their property to the bank. Instead, young Will enters an International Dogsled race from Winnipeg to Minneapolis, hoping the prize money will save his family. His courage and fortitude outstrip all of his adult competitors and he wins the prize and saves his family. The payoff in all of this is that Will grows up in the process. Life Lesson Learned: It is the difficulties we face in life that shape us so much more effectively than the good times. We should embrace the hard and milk it for all it’s worth.

6. “Door to Door” (2002): Bill Porter (played by William H. Macy) has cerebral palsy, but desperately wants to be a door to door salesman. His mother, who had always helped him to see this dream realized, dies of Alzheimer’s and Bill is left to fend for himself. He ends up being one of Watkins greatest salesmen. He accomplishes this by genuinely caring for all the people on his walking route. Life Lesson Learned: The value we place on people will always color how we do our work in serving them.

7. “The Princess Bride” (1987): If I have to tell you the plot,  you have been living in a cave for the past 30 years. This is repeatedly voted the Greatest Movie of all time: Especially in the Phillips Household. The story is about how Westley, a young farmboy, falls in love with Buttercup, the owner of the farm. He goes off to seek his fortune and is presumed killed. Buttercup agrees to marry the prince. The rest you will have to watch for yourself. Life Lesson Learned: Even when you think someone is dead, listen to Miracle Max…they may only be Mostly Dead. No, that’s not the lesson. The lesson is that when you love, even when it seems you have lost everything, you have really lost nothing.

What movies have you learned life lessons from?


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