Deep Thoughts on the Big Screen: 5 Philosophical Movies

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For the last two months, I have been facilitating a weekly discussion in pop culture and philosophy at the Longmont Senior Center. For the first half of the two-hour session, we watch clips from movies and TV shows, taking in poignant examples of the day’s topic. We might be talking about the nature of love or beauty, about epistemology or ethics. In two months, we have watched well over 100 clips, everything from Casablanca to Doctor Who.

Star Trek‘s Commander Data has been particularly helpful in prompting discussion of the human condition. Luke Skywalker and Yoda helped us to talk about free will and determinism. Scenes like this one from Witness, directed by Peter Weir, helped us to examine the good and bad in community. We have created our own community, a community of inquiry. At the Grey Havens Group, we do the same thing at our discussion group meetings.

We call these sessions Geek Philosophy. We held our first discussion at one of our monthly Inklingsiana meetings. Last spring, we hosted a multi-generational Geek Philosophy session at our Real Myth Symposium. We watched clips from science fiction-fantasy movies and TV shows then had what turned out to be an extremely heartening discussion about personal mortality and the mortality of our species. This month, we discussed the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Masks.” Next month, on November 12, we will be hosting a Star Wars and philosophy discussion so that we are prepared to fully appreciate The Force Awakens in December.

Tolkien believed that experiencing the ordinary in the extraordinary context of what he called a Fairy-story can cause us to shake free from the grip of “appropriation,” the tendency to see things as trite or insignificant just because we have gotten used to them. This is what Geek Philosophy is all about so, in the spirit of our community of inquiry, here is a list of my Top Five Philosophical Movies. These are the films that, at least for a while, helped me to see that there is no such thing as the ordinary.

Badgaladriel’s Top Five Philosophical Movies

(Beware of spoilers when clicking on links.)

  1. Groundhog Day, written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis, directed by Harold Ramis (1993), “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
  2. The Truman Show, written by Andrew Niccol, directed by Peter Weir (1998), “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.”
  3. Blade Runner, written by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peeples, based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, directed by Ridley Scott (1982), “It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?”
  4. Never Let Me Go, written by Alex Garland, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, directed by Mark Romanek (2010), “You have to know who you are, and what you are. It’s the only way to lead decent lives.”
  5. Pleasantville, written and directed by Gary Ross (1998), “No, David. Nobody’s happy in a poodle skirt and a sweater set.”

What movies would make your list? What TV episodes have gotten you thinking over the years?

We hope you will join us for our next discussion. What might be the most exciting Geek Philosophy session is coming to you this winter! “Mythos and Logos: A Multi-Generational Philosophy Panel” will feature members of our young adult group, Grey Havens YA, in profound conversation with the senior adults of the Longmont Senior Center, January 20 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.. The topic will be “personal identity.” How do we see ourselves at seventeen or at seventy? What can we learn from each other and from the stories we love? For more information or to register, call 303-651-8411.

It’s Time for Geeks to Unite in Longmont, Colorado!

At Grey Havens Group, we know that, like the TARDIS, the imagination is bigger on the inside. Now, one of our resident artists is helping to show the rest of our community!

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Donna Clement, creator of the Grey Havens logo, t-shirt designs, our amazing hobbit hole and more, placed her entry in the Longmont Shock Art contest. Shock Art, an initiative of Longmont’s Art in Public Places, has the mission of adorning the city’s many drab switchgear boxes with stunning art by local artists.

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After many, many hours of detailed design and painting, Donna hands over her scale model at the Longmont Museum. The rest is up to us!

Donna’s design is titled “Windows on Other Worlds.” It features gorgeous views of the Shire, Hogwarts Castle, the TARDIS interior and an image from the Enterprise viewscreen that any geek would weep to behold. Grey Havens, Grey Havens YA, Godric’s Hollow Group and other GHG affiliates have demonstrated the power of geek pride in our community. We know that multiple fandoms are passionately represented here. Now, it is time to let the City of Longmont know by casting a vote for geekery in all its glory!

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If you don’t vote, this could happen. Save the TARDIS!

If you are a Longmont resident, you are eligible to vote. Can you imagine what it would be like to drive past a former eyesore and, instead, get a glimpse from between the shutters of Hagrid’s hut or through the round, green door of Bag End? What geek’s day would not be brightened by an experience like that? I predict that fans from miles and miles around will make a special pilgrimage to Longmont just to see “Windows on Other Worlds” but, more importantly, our own hearts will be lifted every time we pass that wonderful street corner that takes us to the vistas of our dreams.

Voting has already begun and lasts until June 11. All you have to do is stop by the Longmont Museum at 400 Quail Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Check out all the scale models then vote for your five favorites. Donna’s submission is #12. Voting only takes a moment but it can bring Longmont worlds of joy!

Fandoms unite! Spread the word! You can’t stop the signal! We CAN bring magic to Longmont!! VOTE FOR #12!

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: You do NOT have to be a resident of Longmont to vote. If you are in town, swing by the Longmont Museum to show your support for imagination and fun!