Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Mstark

Which films reflect objectivist philosophy?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Aside from the obvious answers The Fountainhead (1949, dir. King Vidor) and Atlas Shrugged coming out this year, which films (whether the creators realized it or not) reflect the objectivist philosophy? To a point most underdog success stories hinge on the fact that the protagonists don't ever give in to the struggles they face and keep pushing towards their goal. However each film depicts various socio-economic, religious situations in a different light and therefore could end up reflecting the opposite values of objectivism.

For example, There Will Be Blood was a great film about a clever businessman who ended up triumphant, however it depicted him as a greedy and insane murderer by the end of the film.

Curious to know what others think. If someone could present an opposite case, where a protagonist is a terrible, leacherous, "selfless" human being and thus through their negative characteristics illustrates the righteousness of objectivism, I'd love to hear about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked The Watchmen and thought it had some good Objectivist-like qualities. Rorschach's unwillingness to compromise in particular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Agora" has aspects in that are basically quite relevant for Objectivism. Shows the impact of religion on an ever diminishing respect for reason in Alexandria, Egypt. Not sure what sort of answer you're looking for, but it is definitely the sort of movie that fits here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chocolat has some really great themes with the main character promoting happiness and pleasure on earth as against the religious culture of self-denial she finds herself in.

The Shawshank Redemption is an incredibly uplifting movie, great sense of life, and one of my favorites.

The Pursuit of Happyness sports some great themes about hard work and achievement, and is also generally very uplifting.

Here is a pretty long list that, now that I look at it, has all 3 of these movies on it.

EDIT: As to 'opposites,' there are plenty of movies out there about self-destructive people and their downfall. Requiem for a Dream comes to mind. Most people would probably consider the characters selfish, but to an Objectivist it's clear just how self-less they are, and they all suffer for it. I might add that I actually really like that movie though, I think it's very intriguing and well-done, cinematically.

Edited by Dante

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rorschach was insane, and was more of a kantian than anything. Plus the write of the original story, Alan Moore, hated Ayn Rand.

My pick would be Slum Dog Millionaire. Probably the most Objectivist movie I have ever seen other than the obvious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see how Rorschach could be considered objectivist in a way. He's the only one commited to the truth and acting out what he knows is right. However, yes, he is arguably insane and he acts out in brute force which is against objectivist views. In any case, he's the only character in my mind who acts righteously in the end.

Pursuit of Happyness was on my mind when I posted this, as he loses essentially everything to get what he wants because he's confident in his abilities. And along the same lines, Aviator is also based on a true story about a successful man, who won't take no. Despite his many infidelities and eventual decay into mental illness, he invents, goes against filmmaking conventions and is always producing something-moving forward.

I feel like there has to be some foreign films in the world which support objectivist viewpoint however unconsciously it might be. I would have to study more history, but I would assume the philosophy would be pretty specific to some Europe countries, some European colonies and arguably Japan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as Japanese cinema, the work of director Masaki Kobayashi focuses on the problems with communism/socialism (The Human Condition trilogy) and selflessness/self-sacrifice (Harakiri), and advocates adhering to principles of justice at all cost (Rebellion). The samurai films of the '60s were all about rebelling against the horribly oppressive social norms that required self-sacrifice and saving face.

Edited by brian0918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot of Anime presents Objectivish themes. Its strange, the absolute commitment of the death worshiping samurai has been turned into someone's absolute commitment to their own values. I think this is do to a Nietzsche influence in some Japanese philosophy (Kyoto School).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help but think of 300.

I was thinking about that myself, but the fact is their mindset is based completely in collectvism. Spartans, spartans, spartans. They destroy the weak by force (i.e. infanticide) to breed only the strong, therefore not valuing the potential mind-power of the individual-only the physical perfection which contributes to the group as a whole. The more they are able to fight, and the stronger they become, the more they band together. However the Spartans seemed, dare I say, slightly militaristic, which Objectivism opposes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking about that myself, but the fact is their mindset is based completely in collectvism. Spartans, spartans, spartans. They destroy the weak by force (i.e. infanticide) to breed only the strong, therefore not valuing the potential mind-power of the individual-only the physical perfection which contributes to the group as a whole. The more they are able to fight, and the stronger they become, the more they band together. However the Spartans seemed, dare I say, slightly militaristic, which Objectivism opposes.

One has to think of the context of the times. Life itself was a bit more physical then.

Just as we don't toss out the accomplishments of the founding fathers because they had slaves so we also should honor the great things that people did in more politically primitive times acknowledging their faults.

Western culture as we know it is owed in part to the men who died at Thermopylae.

Military culture and discipline demands that members act as a whole, which indeed has some aspects of collectivism to it. We're lucky that so many good individuals are willing to do this for something they see as even more valuable than their own lives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

An accidental coincidence with #6: We watched The Asphalt Jungle last evening. Excellent in every way.

A couple of years ago, through Netflix, we watched the first season of two old television programs, and I found them very enjoyable these decades after their creation: Gunsmoke and Route 66. These are not movies, but I mention them as I think viewers here would find one episode of 66 in particular quite an experience. Some might recognize something of themselves in it. It is called Ten Drops of Water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One has to think of the context of the times. Life itself was a bit more physical then.

Just as we don't toss out the accomplishments of the founding fathers because they had slaves so we also should honor the great things that people did in more politically primitive times acknowledging their faults.

Western culture as we know it is owed in part to the men who died at Thermopylae.

Military culture and discipline demands that members act as a whole, which indeed has some aspects of collectivism to it. We're lucky that so many good individuals are willing to do this for something they see as even more valuable than their own lives.

Don't get me wrong, I loved 300. I wasn't criticizing the story or the concept in any way, only stating why the philosophies depicted in the film 300 don't precisely reflect Objectivism. Whether or not a less fantastical version of the film actually happened in real life and was justified isn't the question. The film was created in this century and glorified nationalism, militarism and the murder of the "imperfect", therefore it is not of the Objectivist philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Iron Man movies for the obvious reasons that are pointed to by most critics.

The hero is a wealthy individual in the private sector. He's ambitious, selfish, and unapologetic about the life he leads. He also brings science lightyears forward, simply because it serves his own motives, quite like most scientific achievments. The sequel had to throw a wrench in it by giving him daddy issues but other than that it was good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some way or other:

2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shawshank Redemption, Network, American Beauty, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Big Lebowski, Harold and Maude, Barry Lyndon, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut.

Shawshank Redemption is the most obvious. I'd rank it as the greatest movie ever if it weren't for 2001.

2001 is a poetic representation of humanity becoming the "Superman," though it's easy to put it in a Randian rather than Nietzschean light. Kubrick was an awesome filmmaker and, much like Rand, misunderstood.

The "odd one out" is Lebowski, but I just get a kick out of it as comedy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't get me wrong, I loved 300. I wasn't criticizing the story or the concept in any way, only stating why the philosophies depicted in the film 300 don't precisely reflect Objectivism. Whether or not a less fantastical version of the film actually happened in real life and was justified isn't the question. The film was created in this century and glorified nationalism, militarism and the murder of the "imperfect", therefore it is not of the Objectivist philosophy.

Well very few films precisely reflect Objectivism, that wasn't the point of me mentioning 300. In the context of the story, Greece represented a beacon of reason and freedom - with the antagonist being the forces of Xerxes who claims himself to be an embodied God. Reason/Freedom vs. Mysticism? Quite Oist oriented if you ask me, not a verbatim representation of the philosophy but it does bode a homage to it.

On top of that the protagonists are presented as heroes. Strong willed, principled men in near perfect physical condition. I believe man being presented as a heroic being is part of of Rand's romantic manifesto and thus in line with her philosophic outlook, no? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flight of the Phoenix (1965) -- observe the German engineer hard at work to survive. Another version was released in 2004.

Also, you probably found this list easy enough through Google, but didn't see it mentioned here: Movies of Interest to Objectivists -- over 1000 movies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd highly recommend the Disney movie Bolt for anyone who hasn't seen it. It's about a dog who thinks he's a superhero until one day he finds out he's just an actor who plays a superdog on TV. It's a movie about learning to be yourself and being a hero regardless of what anyone says. Here's the IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397892/. You pretty much can't go wrong with CGI animated movies, but this one is my personal favorite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Incredibles had a marked objectivist slant.

I liked the Incredibles a lot! The physics of the objects seem Objectivist in that each machine had particular features and properties which we could perceive. They didn't have the magical qualities that writers often try to sneak in when they work with animated CG.

The voice intonation and facial expressions were very character specific. The parents had to explain to the children that they were in a battle of life and death, there was no certain outcome, and they, the children had a roll to play. The father taught the daughter better posture and to move her hair from in front of her face. He taught her self-respect. All of those were fantastic assertions of Objectivism.

But the great villian was a person who wanted to make all their fantastic abilities available to everyone. He wanted to sell the incredibleness. That is why he was a vilain? In some ways the Incredibles where the Incredibly Elitests.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... that wasn't the point of me mentioning 300.

...I believe man being presented as a heroic being is part of of Rand's romantic manifesto and thus in line with her philosophic outlook, no? :D

There was a line in the movie where Xerxes points out that Greece is governed predominantly by reason, which he scoffs at. When you consider that reason stopped being the predominate guiding philosophy for much of the past 2000 years, and that those men may have been it's only defense, yes, they were heroes. For centuries reason was preserved only in books that those men provided for to be written.

It is a wonderful telling of, at least, Objectivism's roots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×