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the tortured one

Objectivist Values In Popular Movies?

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I was just watching the movie "Minority Report", and I was reflecting on it, how three psychic women suffered for the sake of zero crime.


The movie ends with the triumph of individualism when the precrime office is disbanded





were else have you seen movies that portray these values of individualism, freedom, and egoism? I'm looking to expand my DVD library and am interested in what everyone can tell.

I suppose I should put "The Patriot" on the list, since it is about the founding of my country...

Edited by dream_weaver
fixed spoiler tags

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I too saw this in Minority Report. Also note the the pro-gun stance in the movie.

I have always found some of Kurosawa's work to be pro-individual. The Seven Samurai, Sanjuro, Yojimbo and especially High and Low. Some of his Shakespearen works (Ran and Throne of Blood) stray from this, by and large his films (and his mastery) are testimony to positive values.

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You must see The Incredibles. The Objectivist Ethics will strike you hard. With no mention of God as a source, the movie exalts the individual against the collective, individualism, Egoism, Capitalism, the family, each person bringing their personal gifts in teamwork, love, people as value, heroism, productiveness, honesty, charity, and even the Good. It's rare to see this kind of movie on the screen. There's a short

Also, the continuing buzz of this movie, even in it's 2nd week ($143,000,000), when movies aren't really grossing like they used to, makes me wonder why we, with Objectivist ethics, aren't writing movies like this.

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"Hombre", starring Paul Newman. Never have I seen a more consistently, explicitly selfish, egoistic character in film. An example:

The hero is waiting patiently among a group of people to catch a sold-out stagecoach for which he has already purchased his ticket. In walks a husky, thuggish character (brilliantly portrayed by Richard Boone), who looks the group of people over. First he accosts Hombre, and begins to try and intimidate him into giving up his ticket. Before Hombre can respond, a friendly young man speaks up in his defense, trying to diffuse the situation. The thug shifts over to him, and applies the same tactics of intimidation. The young man protests, and looks around the room for support, but ultimately knuckles under to the implied threats of violence made by the thug, hands over his ticket, and leaves, humiliated.

When the thug leaves the room, a woman who was present turns to Hombre and asks, "Why didn't you help him? He helped you. You should have done something," Hombre replies, "If it's alright with you, lady, I didn't feel like bleeding for him . . . and even if it isn't alright with you."

This is just one example of many from the film. I can't recommend it highly enough. I've never seen another film with such poignant dialogue dealing so clearly, if implicitly, with the the theme of individualism/egoism vs. collectivism/altruism.

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I too saw this in Minority Report.  Also note the the pro-gun stance in the movie.

I'll third the recommendation for Minority report. There's definitely a free will stance in the movie, as well as a "knowledge is power" theme.

But I don't recall anything that pointed to a pro-gun stance. What makes you think that?

I can't comment on Incredibles or Hombre, having seen neither. But for anyone looking for a good children's movie, I recently caught most of "Matilda" on television and thought I'd mention it here.

The title character is a little girl gifted with genius-level intelligence, who's life is an unfortunate hell thanks to her unloving, slime-ball parents and her school's militant, child-hating psycopath of a principal (who runs the place more like a prison than an educational facility). Her only real adult ally is one of her teachers. Eventually she discovers that she has powerful telekinetic abilities, which she masters and uses to make things right.

The movie was surprisingly good. There was no moral equivocation that I could see; her parents were clearly shown as unscrupulous car-part thieves and rotten parents (ignoring Matilda except when punishing or demeaning her), and the principal was so over-the-top it's surreal. Matilda herself, on the other hand, comes across as confident in her own judgement and being quite courageous in following her sense of right and wrong, even before she discovers her powers. And once she does discover them, she doesn't hesitate to use them (quite creatively) to make things better for herself and the people she cares about; she doesn't waste any time hand-wringing or being afraid of her own abiities.

The bad guys are ultimately undone by their own vices; the principal is superstitious, and Matilda eventually breaks her by playing on her irrationality. Her parents are forced to flee the country to avoid getting caught by the law. And Matilda is able to arrange it so that she can stay with her teacher. The movie ultimately comes across as very pro-intelligence, pro-happiness and pro-justice.

The only complaint I can think to make is that the law is not favorably portayed; the two agents after Matilda's father turn out to be just as terrible as the man they're trying to bust. But I don't see that as a major theme; more like a continuation of the theme that Matilda is stuck with no good adults around (except her teacher).

Other than that, stick this one in the same file as Harry Potter and rent it for your kids.

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I too saw this in Minority Report.  Also note the the pro-gun stance in the movie.

I too, am curious where you saw the pro-gun stance in this movie.

Also, I surprisingly found a few objectivist values in "It's a mad mad mad mad world" Every one kept going on about how everyone deserves their fair share, and in the end nobody ends up with anything. Oh yeah, that movie also inspired the much worse "Rat Race", though it remains one of the funniest movies ever made. No matter how many times I watch it, the scene where the truck driver tears down the gas station always makes me laugh until I have tears in my eyes.

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I thought that the movie The Contender had some Objectivist values.

In particular, there is a character in the movie who attempts a "shortcut to greatness" which sort of reminded me of Howard Roark's nemesis Peter and his desire for "prestige."

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I thought the movie "King Arthur" champoined a great many Objectivist values. The main theme being man's free will and his yearning to be free. One of my favorite quotes from the movie goes something like this (not an exact quote): "Animals live. It is the natural state of all men to want to live free."- Guinevere.

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The Equalizer.

 

Good sense of life. Arguably vigilante, but not Charles Bronson style.

 

To sum up the theme in a line:

The good against many variants on altruism.



I would question the line cited by Melissa Leo: "He didn't come here to ask for help. He came to ask for permission."

 

One of the best movies I can recall seeing in a long time. Impeccable timing throughout.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Interstellar hit it pretty close, to me anyway.

 

I actively avoided the science-y boo-hooers before and afterward, so that I could more easily suspend my disbelief. Taking the premises as true, the movie was excellent.

Edited by JASKN
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Tucker: The Man and His Dream

 Not one of Francis Ford Coppola's greatest films, but it does convey Objectivist values in art. Based on the life Preston Tucker, an egoistic independent auto-manufacturer, Jeff Bridges portrays this little-known nearly successful entrepreneur, and his ambitious endeavor to create the car-of-the-future, the 1948 Tucker Torpedo. If there is any truth to the story, one has to remember, it's only a movie. But it is true that his scheme was destroyed in a government investigation that did not go well for him. It is family-safe non-violent, and I always enjoy images of the post-WW2 era.

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Woman in Gold
 
From a write-up entitled Remarkable true story behind Helen Mirren's new film The Woman in Gold in the Mirror

 

The struggle has now been turned into a film with Oscar winner Helen Mirren as unlikely hero Maria. She hopes the film will help audiences remember the horrors of the Holocaust.

 
It also puts the concept of justice front and center:

 

Dame Helen, 69, says: “It was justice. The Austrian government didn’t want to give them back. Hopefully it will show people you can fight against the odds and sometimes, occasionally, brilliantly, miraculously win.”

 

One particular interchange really stood out to me.

Randy: Mr. Chief Justice; and may it please the court. We believe that applying the FSIA is not impermissibly retroactive.

Chief Justice: Why isn't it just as easy to say that it does act retroactively? Hmm?

Perplexed look from Randy.

Chief Justice: Because the question is when should it exercise jurisdiction for a particular purpose?


The judge makes a joke over this rewording after Randy professes he doesn't understand.
While it is a poke at logic, how many folk are familiar enough with the particulars that it probably would just go over most folks heads? Is this a feature, or is this a bug?

Edited by dream_weaver

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The Physician and Flash of Genius

I recently watched the 2013 film "The Physician", which I heartily enjoyed. Based on a novel, the notion of  cataract and appendix surgery seem a bit of a reach for the 11th century, none the less it was a powerful display of science triumphing against/within a background of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—(with an overt usage of Aristotle therein.)

"Flash of Genius" centers around the Robert Kearns' case with the Ford Motor Company about patent infringement that dealt with intermittent windshield wiper technology. The introduction of Charles Dickens "Tale of Two Cities" into the trial, contrasted against a new arrangement of existing electronic technology made my evening.

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On 2/8/2015 at 10:20 AM, JASKN said:

Interstellar hit it pretty close, to me anyway.

 

I actively avoided the science-y boo-hooers before and afterward, so that I could more easily suspend my disbelief. Taking the premises as true, the movie was excellent.

I very strongly agree.

It's so rare to see a sci-fi that is not full of just war, killing and a celebration of death.

And because I want to start a new society and am an engineer, I found it to be just totally awesome movie. The flaws in the physics were there of course, but they were tiny compared to the artistic beauty.

Most beautiful movie in a very long time.

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It's not a movie, but check out the TV show "Mary Kills People". It's a beautiful, coherent defense of the right to die on one's own terms. If that's not an Oist value, I don't know what is.

And the quality of the show is better than the vast majority of movies, including blockbusters, anyway (that's true for most cable/Netflix/Amazon shows in general).

Only six episodes so far, but it will almost certainly get renewed. It's too good not to.

 

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Posted (edited)

On 2/8/2015 at 5:20 AM, JASKN said:

Interstellar hit it pretty close, to me anyway.

 

I actively avoided the science-y boo-hooers before and afterward, so that I could more easily suspend my disbelief. Taking the premises as true, the movie was excellent.

Me too. Interstellar and Arrival are my two favorite movies of the past few years. Do watch Arrival, if you haven't seen it. It's just as good.

Edited by Nicky
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Posted (edited)

Another good movie that struck me as having a "rationally selfish" theme (or at least interested in rational thought) recently: Gifted.

Edited by Nicky

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, Nicky said:

It's not a movie, but check out the TV show "Mary Kills People". It's a beautiful, coherent defense of the right to die on one's own terms. If that's not an Oist value, I don't know what is.

And the quality of the show is better than the vast majority of movies, including blockbusters, anyway (that's true for most cable/Netflix/Amazon shows in general).

Only six episodes so far, but it will almost certainly get renewed. It's too good not to.

 

An exception to the "vast majority of movies, including blockbusters" would be Million Dollar Baby, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Posted (edited)

19 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

An exception to the "vast majority of movies, including blockbusters" would be Million Dollar Baby, directed and starring Clint Eastwood.

...13 years ago. My post is in present tense.

I'm not denying that 10-15 years ago Hollywood movies were still the height of American entertainment. But that changed in the past few years. These days, tv shows have mostly surpassed them.

These days, you can find dozens of hours worth of good TV for every good movie that gets released. Case and point is this six hour "Mary Kills People" series, which isn't even a show most people know about. It's a tiny joint-Canadian production. And yet, it's better quality (in terms of writing, acting and cinematography) than any American 2017 movie I've seen so far.

Edited by Nicky
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16 minutes ago, Nicky said:

...13 years ago. My post is in present tense.

With all due respect, this thread was started in November 2004.

You mentioned Arrival. I was disappointed with its general approach to the treatment of concepts. What was it that you liked about it that I may have discounted in this regard?

Somewhat related to Million Dollar Baby, the movie Passengers dealt rather interestingly with the 'value of'/'stealing of' one's life.

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15 hours ago, Nicky said:

Me too. Interstellar and Arrival are my two favorite movies of the past few years. Do watch Arrival, if you haven't seen it. It's just as good.

I just watched Arrival a couple of weeks ago. I almost skipped it, because an Objectivist on Facebook dismissed it as "greater good" propaganda. But it was the best option in a crop of afternoon cable pay-per-view movies, so I watched. I'm glad I did. To that Objectivist, you see what you want to see? I thought the movie was original and great, from premise to presentation.

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Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, Nicky said:

I'm not denying that 10-15 years ago Hollywood movies were still the height of American entertainment. But that changed in the past few years. These days, tv shows have mostly surpassed them.

The best serious Hollywood actors consistently refer to current television as where to find the highest quality acting work. They say TV and movies have kind of swapped places, where movies are now frothy events. Sometimes I like event movies, but I happily embrace 8 to 12 hour serious character and narrative TV in place of 2 hour serious movies - especially when viewed from the comfort of home.

Edited by JASKN
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21 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

You mentioned Arrival. I was disappointed with its general approach to the treatment of concepts. What was it that you liked about it that I may have discounted in this regard?

Well the main thing I would point out is that the movie is centered around a personality. That's the point of it: it's not the sci fi plot, it's the sadness of a great intellect, that is portrayed masterfully, and with everything around Amy Adams carefully structured for one and only one purpose: to support her tragic screen presence.

The incredible originality of both the plot and the structure of the movie (with the clever lie by omission at the start) are the cherry on top. But what really matters is how Adams' performance makes you feel. How strong and real the admiration and sadness feels as you're watching.

Take Jeremy Renner's inconspicuous, almost expressionless acting, for instance: a conscious choice (on the director's part), along with many, many other similar, brilliant choices, to allow Amy Adams to keep the viewer's undivided attention for the full length of the movie...and it was a compelling performance, that made me grateful that I was able to enjoy her soulful presence without distractions. It felt like she was in the room, next to me.

P.S. I wasn't an Amy Adams fan, before I saw the movie. Looking through her IMDB, the two movies she's been in that I've seen are Charlie Wilson's War and Catch Me if You Can, but I don't remember her in either. So this isn't fanboy talk, I went into it without any bias.

When I went to see Interstellar, I was expecting McConaughey to deliver (and did he ever). With this, I wasn't expecting anything, but what I got was just as great.

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22 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

the movie Passengers dealt rather interestingly with the 'value of'/'stealing of' one's life.

Seems to me that the morality of what the guy did is about as black and white as it gets, and therefor the forced happy ending was even sillier than it was predictable.

But it didn't seem like the movie took itself all that seriously...that was probably its only saving grace. They weren't really trying to discuss philosophical issues so much as they were trying to build a reasonably clever plot around J-Law's running around in hot outfits.

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