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.

The Stuff of Myths and Legends at Geek Fair!

Here it is, geeks of Boulder County and beyond! Today, we are announcing our very first special guests at Geek Fair 2015, part of the Longmont Museum’s Cultural Resources Fair on September 20 from 1:30-4:30 p.m.. It’s the magical folk of Colorado’s Myths and Legends Con (MALCon)!

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The Grey Havens Group loves the intimate but incredibly celebratory geek experience that you get at MALCon each year. This year, Grey Havens Group member, Stant Litore, was one of the convention’s special guest authors and looking at these gorgeous photos from the recent con is like playing spot the Grey Havens Group/Grey Havens YA member!

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A Grey Havens YA member unites two fandoms at MALCon 2015!

Of course, MALCon attracts geeks from all around the galaxy, not just from GHG. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with like-minded fans at an annual event where the focus is on “our modern myths and legends, from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, from Firefly to Doctor Who?

We are incredibly honored that MALCon recognizes the importance of geeky solidarity, even as far north as the community of Longmont, and that they are coming to help us honor our teachers and make our town just a bit shinier! We aim to misbehave! Allons-y!

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Loki to Sam and Dean, “I’m not your brother, I never was!” Photo from MALCon 2015!

All are welcome at Geek Fair! You can read more details here.

A Discussion About World-Building with Authors Stant Litore and T L Morganfield

From Grey Havens Group’s Real Myth and Mithril, Delving into Fantasy Literature, April 25, 2015:

Stant Litore and TL Morganfield are authors of the Zombie Bible Series and the Bone Flower Series. One set of stories is set in various parts of the world, re-telling biblical stories from a spiritual zombie apocalyptic point of view, the other set of stories is Aztec Fantasy, re-telling Mesoamerican myth from a feminist perspective. Both authors showcase tremendous knowledge and richness of detail in their respective work. The Grey Havens Group was curious to know how they worked on their world building and wanted an in depth discussion and dialogue with these two author friends of the group about their writing. Enjoy!