5 Films That Changed My Life

Growing up, my family wasn’t really the kind of family who got into sports teams or would go on outdoor adventures together.

All of our adventures were in the shared experience of the cinema.

Some would say I was deprived, but I don’t see it that way at all. I feel like I have learned more from watching films than I could’ve in any other way. To be honest, watching films has changed my life, I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of the five that have changed me the most. Hopefully, it inspires you to think of your own!


Star Wars

For me, nothing beats "Star Wars," and as a kid nothing occupied my daytime fantasies as much as "Star Wars." The story of a boy from a small town with big dreams really resonated with me, and inspired me to dream big. Nothing has ever inspired me to be creative like "Star Wars." I’d never seen anything like "Star Wars," and wanted to create something as unique and exciting. It’s honestly the reason that I’m a writer.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

I watched this film in one of my history classes for the first time, and was blown away by it. I had never been so caught up in a story that wasn’t "Star Wars." I was amazed with how the director Frank Capra was able to show a mirror of political ugliness in the face of the culture of his time and address issues that they needed to deal with, while also offering a beautiful picture of hope for his generation and an ideal to strive for. A great story should challenge us, and I felt very challenged by this story; to be brave and honest in the midst of adversity and believe that there can be a better tomorrow if we fight for it together. These are ideals that I gleaned from this film and I still believe strongly today.

Spider-Man 2

I LOVED the first "Spider-Man" movie with Tobey Maguire; so much so that my dad and I went to go see it twice in a row when it first came out in cinemas. So, when I went to see the second a few years later, I was cautiously optimistic. How could it top the experience of the first film?

Well, it exceeded it. Not only was it a more enjoyable film than the first, but it spoke to me in a deep way that very few films have. The message of the film was that superpowers don’t make you a hero, it’s your willingness to sacrifice yourself for others. It’s cheesy and over the top, but also very true. It changed the way that I thought about my life, and made me want to live my life for others rather than just for myself.

Black Swan

I avoided watching this film for a long time, but there was always something unavoidable about it for me. This film not only challenged me when I first watched it, but it continues to challenge me to this day. The protagonist struggles to be perfect in all things, and this struggle *SPOILER ALERT* eventually leads to her death. It’s a powerful fable about the destructive nature of perfecting yourself rather than accepting yourself, flaws and all. This is one of the biggest struggles of my life, and I appreciate the daring ways that this film deals with the subject matter, and challenges me to to deal with it personally.

The Tree of Life

I rented this film because I felt obligated to watch it as a filmmaker. I never anticipated that I would enjoy it, let alone sob throughout it and have it become my favorite film of all time. It’s the only film that I’ve ever watched that I made people sit down and watch it with me directly after I saw it. They didn’t appreciate it as much as I did (and it seems like very few people do), but I feel like my brain was just on the same wavelength as the director. Almost never do I consider watching a film a spiritual experience, but I cannot deny that watching this film was a profoundly spiritual one. Terrence Malik’s abstract, poetic take on suburban life in the 1950’s and the creation of the world, from beginning to end, not only informs the visual aesthetics in my own films and videos, but it continually challenges my priorities and reminds me that there is something worthy of my total trust and gratitude.

Those are 5 films that changed my life, so how about you? What films have you watched and never been the same?


  • Brenden Bell

    Screenwriter, Editor, Blogger, and Visual Content Manager

    Brenden Bell is a screenwriter, video producer, editor, teacher, and Visual Content Manager with The Initiative Production Company. He loves eating ice cream, everything nerdy/dorky, thinking too much, and dogs (mostly just the big ones, but he’s open-minded)


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