What are your top 5 films that taught you something? | Coursera Community
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What are your top 5 films that taught you something?

  • 18 December 2018
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Learning takes place everywhere, not only in formal courses. What films or shows have taught you something?

Here is my list of Top 5 Films that Taught Me Something.

  1. Rabbit-Proof Fence (based on a book, which I haven't read)
  2. Mad Hot Ballroom
  3. Spellbound
  4. Yesterday
  5. City of God
As a side note ... do you keep track of your favorite films somewhere? In making this list, I really had to dig into my memory as I didn't want to miss anything (and I'm sure I did).

Please share even if you just have one thing on your list!

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I don't keep track of films, so I found it quite hard to remember some, but these were the first five which popped into my head.

  1. Ben-Hur (1959)
  2. Amazing Grace
  3. Last Ounce of Courage
  4. It's a Wonderful Life
  5. That Sugar Film
They're all a fair bit different, but I learned different things from each one!
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Mine are, what came in my mind first ----!


  1. Gandhi
  2. The Dish
  3. Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory
  4. My fair lady
  5. Sound of Music
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@Sonal Patel, I've always enjoyed the last two films you mentioned. I remember watching the Sound of Music when I was three. I loved it!
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Great topic Laura !

First and foremost, STAR TREK. There was a book published some time ago called: "All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek" -- 1995 -- On Amazon.

Though I haven't read the book, I know it's title is true; everything we need to learn about life, we can learn from STAR TREK. Star Trek is great as it includes social psychology, technology, science, philosophy, a call to action, ethics, morals, it's all there.

  1. STAR TREK -- a more cost-effective approach to higher-education; less the diploma.
  2. Star Wars -- as this story encapsulates all things humanity, minus the light sabers.
  3. Kundun -- A non-fiction movie about the early life of the 14th Dalai Lama. This is a very inspirational movie that also highlights the consequences and depravity of the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet [to this day].
  4. Gods of Egypt -- A fictional look into Egyptian mythology. I think this is a great movie, though a couple parts in it the SGI gets a little cheesy. As a metaphor, this movie has helped me to better understand some of the astrophysical phenomena in the universe.
  5. The Matrix -- To study Cosmology, you are, in my opinion, likely to conclude the evidence presented in the cosmos points to either a higher-power as the source of all creation; or, we really are in a dream world. I support the first, evidence of a higher-power. Of course, the actual story is about aliens enslaving humanity into a virtual computer world as they drain all of our energy from us.
I am interested to see what others come up with. But Star Trek should be first in everyone's list. Really... seriously...
@Laura , this is a really interesting yet challenging thought. Most movies that are excellent don’t necessarily impact my life. The movies that effected me when I was younger don’t now. As you move through different stages of life , you might find different movies that effect you.

The first movie that impacted me was called, “The Boy with the Green Hair”. It was an antiwar movie about a WW2 war orphan whose hair turned bright green as an anti war symbol.

As a teen, “West Side Story” really effected me. I lived in New York City and could see firsthand how Puerto Rican immigrants were treated, and the effects of all that hatred and gang wars.

As a young mother, “The China Syndrome” really shook me up. It was around the same time as 3 mile island. To think we were so casual about using nuclear energy . I had organized a program for our community about it and became an activist to ban it. Nuclear wastes had been deposited in our oceans as a result as well, which had been placed in canisters not built to last.

As an older adult, “Schindler’s List” had a profound effect upon me. Knowing that if you can save one person’s life, then you have saved generations was very powerful to consider. The importance of every human being and how you can effect one another matters.

So what movie would be my 5th? What have I recently seen that stayed with me?
It’s a documentary, made in California called “Pick of the Litter”. It’s about the rigorous training a dog goes through to become a seeing eye dog or therapy dog. They follow an entire litter of puppies. Only one or two ever are successful. I have so much respect for these dogs. I know someone who has gotten a dog from this training school. I am not allowed to talk to her when she is in her harness.I invited her to play with my dog one day and was amazed to see how she could still be a fun loving playful dog. She has made such a difference in this person ‘s life.

Now that I explained all my reasons for why these films were so important to me....please tell me why you chose yours,@Laura , @Sonal Patel and @Lillian ? Anyone else too?
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I am loving all of your lists and reflections!

I totally agree, @Judith. There are many ways to curate a top 5 list ... mine would probably be different if I re-did it next week. ;)

@Kebin, no doubt my father would agree with your summary of the relevance of Star Trek. I have memories of the original Star Trek on TV when I was a kid!

Actually, all of the films I chose gave me some social/cultural/political/historical insight through storytelling and/or through compelling accounts of perseverance. It has been 10+ years since I've seen these particular films, but they all came to mind as I attempted to answer my own question.

Rabbit-Proof Fence gave me insight into the practice of putting indigenous Australian children into internment camps far away from their families. [It breaks my heart just typing this.] This is the true story of three sisters who follow a rabbit-proof fence for 1,500 miles back to their family.

Mad Hot Ballroom and Spellbound are similar in that are both documentaries that follow kids preparing for competitions (ballroom dancing and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, respectively). I remember being moved by the challenges the kids were facing and the juxtaposition of their innocence and wisdom.

Yesterday tells the story of a woman living in rural South Africa who contracts HIV from her husband and must cope with caring for her daughter, her husband, and herself, while being shunned by her community (and her husband). This is probably one of the most devastating films I've watched. It deals with stigma, poverty, and lack of access to healthcare, among other things.

City of God is also adapted from a book about pervasive organized crime in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. It's a film that's hard to watch because of the violence, but I felt it expanded my understanding of corruption and poverty.
Thank you@Laura for your explanations about why you chose those films and their impact on you. It doesn’t matter when you have seen a dilm if it has made an impact on your life. I saw Rabbit Proof Fences and it haunted me for years.
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@Judith, I chose those different films for different reasons.

  • Ben Hur - The main character in this film is a Jew who is friends with a man who becomes a Roman. The Roman friend becomes the tribune of Judea where Judah Ben-Hur (the main character) lives. There is a parade of Romans, and Judah's sister accidently knocks part of the roof off, nearly hitting one of the head Romans. Judah and his family are arrested. Judah is sent to the galleys, and his family are thrown in prison. Judah's anger against the Romans grows and grows, making him very bitter and angry. Finally, he gets free and swears that he will get revenge. As the movie goes on, he learns that love is more powerful than anger, and his mindset totally changes until he can forgive the Romans. I learned that love and forgiveness is powerful from this move.
  • Amazing Grace - This film is about William Wilburforce and his battle against the slave trade in England. This show taught me that I should always fight for what is right even if most people don't see that something is wrong.
  • Last Ounce of Courage - This film is about an older man who sees that, although it's Christmas time, people are trying to destroy Christmas. It's a Christian film and taught me that we sometimes have to fight to keep our freedoms.
  • It's a Wonderful Life - This film is about a man who gets depressed and wants to commit suicide, but an angel stops him and reminds him of all the good things in life. This film taught me to always try to see the good things in life instead of focusing on the bad, because it's a wonderful life!
  • That Sugar Film - This is a documentary about a man who eats as much sugar as the average person does. He's not used to eating sugar and puts on a lot of weight as well as getting more psychological and physical problems. This show taught me a lot about the detrimental effects of sugar, so now I'm trying to cut it down a bit. It's hard!
There's a brief summary. I suppose a lot more could be said about the different films, but that at least gives a bit of a brief overview.
Thank you so much, @Lillian ! Reading about your reasons make these films so much more meaningful. I would love to see a few thanks to you.
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I am loving all of your lists and reflections!

@Kebin, no doubt my father would agree with your summary of the relevance of Star Trek. I have memories of the original Star Trek on TV when I was a kid!

@Laura

Your father sounds like a very intelligent, handsome man!

I will look up 'Yesterday', it sounds like it would be something I may not enjoy watching, but will value for the message and the higher level of understanding; I will see if I can get it.

Thanks to everyone else posting too!
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War Games 1983
Electric Dreams 1984
Meet the Robinsons 2007
Big Hero 6 2014
Tomorrowland 2015
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War Games -- that is a good one...

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