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Classic Philosophical Problems Embodied in Films Essay

People were always concerned about some aspects of their life. Since the birth of humanity, they have been looking for answers to such questions as a sense of human life, origins of knowledge, peoples interaction with this world, and a lot of others. Philosophy appeared as the science that was trying to answer these questions.

Philosophers developed different concepts and ideas to explain certain issues. However, there are no direct answers to philosophical questions; that is why they remain actual. Humans thrust for knowledge stimulates further development of philosophy and its reflection in different kinds of art, including cinema.

The movie The Truman Show is that sort of film which touches the problem of a persons realization of this world and his place in it. The main character Turman Burbank lives in an artificial world, which is made for entertaining the viewers. He does not know this fact, trying to live his life as far as it is possible in this world. The whole city centers around his life, and he remains satisfied with this fact until some crucial moment. Truman behaved himself not according to the scenario, and it became impossible to hide the truth.

Having overcome a lot of difficulties, he has managed to escape from this golden cage. The whole idea of the movie is immediately interconnected with the idea of Platos Cave. It states that man lives within a framework of his reality, which is compared with a cave. That is why it is difficult for him to see something except it, even sunlight he percepts through a small hole.

This movie transforms Platos metaphor into an existing world where Truman lives. His behavior perfectly demonstrates Platos idea. He could see nothing, being blind in his ignorance. However, some hard stress made him see the light. It is also a philosophic idea. People have to leave their zone of comfort in order to develop their personality and percept the world from another perspective.

Another movie that presents mans eternal thrust for knowledge and understanding his place in the world is Stranger Than Fiction. The main character Harold Crick is a usual man. He works as an agent for the Internal Revenue service. His life is very monotonous; he lives by his wristwatch. He knows exactly what to do and when to do. However, his life changes totally when he starts to hear a voice in his head, which comments his every action.

Having recognized the fact that this voice belongs to a famous writer and everything he made was according to her book, he faces the problem. He cannot decide whether to struggle or to obey, accepting his fate. The issue of the authentic individual is touched in the movie. In philosophy, this term is used to describe the degree to which personality is true to itself. Harold leads his life, but the viewer cannot be sure that there are his actions and that he acts on his own will.

Being doomed to die, he, however, managed to change his life. This is the main idea of the movie. It shows the viewer that only recognition of his own identity and life helps Harold to survive and obtain himself. The movie makes us think about being authentic individuals and living our own life.

The problem of fate has always been actual for humanity. From ancient times people have been trying to find out the forces which determine their life. The philosophical opposition of free will and determinism appeared. The main question to discuss is whether a man is the master of his own life or everything he does has already been predetermined. The movie Minority Report tries to investigate this issue. The system of justice is based on predictions of Precogs, in which they see a murderer and his victim.

It is based on the idea of the determinacy of peoples lives. However, the main character does not want to accept it. Being a policeman, John Anderton is predicted to commit a crime. He does not believe it. The whole movie is the story of his struggle with the system and this prediction. The final scene conveys the whole idea. Lamar, director of PreCrime, was predicted to kill John.

Now he has the choice of whether to obey his destiny, proving the efficiency of this system, or to let John go, becoming the owner of his fate. Lamar commits suicide, making his own unexpected decision. However, the movie does not give a definite answer to the question of fate. It is up for the viewers to decide what theory they adhere to.

The movie Being John Malkovich touches such a philosophical issues as subjectivism. Even from its title, the viewer can determine the philosophical orientation of this movie. The main movies idea is based on a persons perception of the world. The main character Craig Schwartz is an unemployed puppeteer. However, he finds a strange job on a level seven and a half. He controls John Malkovich. This is the moment that introduces the philosophical issue of subjectivism. Craig controls John, doing everything as Malkovich.

When he is inside him, he percepts the world in his way. The question of identity and subjectivism appeared. If he does everything, so he is John Malkovich at the moment, however, from another point of view, he could be taken as Craig Schwartz who is trying to work his will upon John Malkovich. Moreover, Johns feelings are also of double nature.

He can save his individuality, feeling someone controlling him and trying to struggle, or he can also perceive the world from Craigs point of view while being controlled. Everything is subjective and depends on the perspective. This fact reflects the main idea of subjectivism as someones perception of this world.

With the development of society, people starts to think more and more about their personality. Especially keen, this question was in the era of totalitarian states when the needs of people were subordinated to some common purpose, and everyone should be just a soulless part of a mechanism in the state machine. Peoples vulnerability to state and politicians was also a topic for discussion. Very often, it was impossible to find justice in such kind of a state. The movie A Clockwork Orange speculates on these issues.

The main character Alex DeLarge lives in futuristic England. He is a member of a very cruel gang, which commits disgusting crimes. However, he is caught and subjected to treatment. His further life is determined by it. The question of his identity rises. After all events, he recovered in hospital, obtaining his original character.

This film touches the problem by asking the question to the viewer whether it is possible to change someone or a persons identity is constant. Another important issue of justice and policy is raised. Having committed a great number of crimes, the main character does not swallow the medicine, remaining free because of the deal with a politician. Moreover, he becomes a politician himself. This ending underlines peoples interest and vulnerability to the state machines.

Another important philosophical issue is the question of time. It is the very arguable question which has been exciting for people for a long time. It is possible to speak about the cyclic nature of time. Philosophers often use this category, trying to discover it more precise. An important notion, which is connected with this issue and which also has been actual is time travel. There is a great discussion between scientists whether the paradox can appear because of someones interference in time.

The comedy movie Bill and Ted’s Awesome Adventure also touch this question. Made in the genre of comedy, this film, however, can be taken seriously. The main characters Bill and Ted, travel in time in order to gather eminent people for them to help to accomplish the task. The main characters managed to catch Napoleon, princess Elizabeth, Ludwig van Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, and many other famous people. The movie presents it jokingly.

However, a serious question appears Such rude interference in history can totally change the image of our world. Napoleon was caught on the eve of his conquest of Austria. This fact could have influenced the development of our history. Filmmakers wanted to show the delicacy of such an issue as time and its still unknown nature.

In conclusion, it should be said that all these movies demonstrate humans thrust for knowledge and a great role philosophy plays in the process of its obtaining.


A Clockwork Orange Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 1971. Warner Bros. 1972. DVD

Being John Malkovich. Directed by Charlie Kauffman. 1999. USA films. 2001. DVD

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Directed by Stephen Herek. 1989. Orion Pictures. 1991. DVD.

Minority Report. Directed by Steven Spielberg. 2002. 20th Century Fox. 2003. DVD

Stranger than Fiction. Directed by Mark Forster. 2006. Columbia Pictures, 2006. DVD

The Truman Show. Directed by Peter Weir.1998. Paramount Pictures, 2002. DVD

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Classic Philosophical Problems Embodied in Films." May 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/classic-philosophical-problems-embodied-in-films/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Classic Philosophical Problems Embodied in Films'. 1 May.

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