Film & TV

Big Life Lessons from the Big Screen – Part II

 Ferris Bueller told us that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”, Timon and Pumbaa said that the philosophy of Hakuna Matata was the way forward for stress-free days and Forrest Gump’s mum always said “Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. Quench’s contributors write about their life-changing and inspiring moments, originating from the big screen.

Legally Blonde

There is a current belief that young girls have a limited amount of role models growing up, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. However, in my youth, I was lucky enough to experience a small outbreak of strong female characters in film and television for whatever reason. From names like Kim Possible to Sabrina Spellman to Lizzie McGuire, I certainly had enough ladies to look to for inspiration on how to lead my life. None, however, were as influential to me as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, a film that truly changed my life. Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of a true feminist icon has certainly shaped who I am today. When dealing with heartbreak, I embody Elle’s determination in working out and studying hard. In facing adversity, I certainly embrace Elle’s ferocity and compassion in dealing with those more narrow-minded than myself. I would also be a liar if I said that I didn’t perform the odd ‘Bend and Snap’ when I’m feeling particularly gorgeous. But mostly, Legally Blonde changed my life by showing me that I can do anything; a belief I carry with me even today as I tackle my university degree in a time when feminism is a more pressing issue than ever. There’s nothing more inspiring to me on a difficult day than imagining my own ending credit scene like Elle’s in Legally Blonde, listing off my own achievements in hopes that it inspires another young girl out there to be her best self. To me, Legally Blonde is a beacon of hope that any girl with ambition and a knowledge about perms can do anything she sets her mind to.

– Emma McGuigan

American Beauty

Sam Mendes’ 1999 dramatic masterpiece, American Beauty, follows Lester Burnham’s midlife crisis after realising he’s been ‘sedated’ in his middle-class American suburbia life for many years. Thanks to the amazing cinematography and excellent screenplay, the film taught me to appreciate the beauty in ‘the little things’ of this world. As the character  Ricky sees and is touched by his video recording of a plastic bag dancing in the air, follows to say: ‘‘there’s an entire life behind things… and sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world – I feel I can’t take it’’. Because of this, the film changed my outlook on both the world and life itself, to enjoy the moment and appreciate what is in front of you – after all, you have an entire life ahead of you. This is something that Lester figures out in the end when after many recent ups and downs he stares at a photo of him, his wife and his daughter and realises that he truly values what he has – a family.

I would definitely recommend watching this modern classic, as besides showing ‘real beauty’, it shows the demise of the American Dream in the most exquisite way. And also because Frank Underwood is in it.

– Marielle Wilkinson

Pride

Catharsis is often defined in relation to the arts, as the outpouring of emotion that the audience experience at the summit of the piece. However, rarely is that emotion summed up as quickly as the title. PridePride records the moment where a small group of gays and lesbians support the striking Welsh miners in the 1980s (imaginatively naming their campaign ‘Gays and Lesbians support the Miners’). While I am sure others would draw parallels between Welsh pride and gay pride, to me the true meaning of the film is respect.

The culture clash in the film is between the flamboyant and colourful gays against the stoic and well, Welsh miners. But gradually, a mutual respect of what is essentially two different ways of living emerges, a respect without judgement or expectation. I guess the film left me feeling that for all the violence, all the hatred expressed to all walks of life, for their ethnicity, their sexuality, their religion, their mental health…we all face a choice. We can either accept violence and hatred as natural, by becoming what our enemies want us to be.

Or we can be ourselves with pride.

– Saoirse O’Connor

Fight Club

WE’RE THE BY-PRODUCTS OF A LIFESTYLE OBSESSION” – TYLER DURDEN (FIGHT CLUB)

A somewhat depressing and pessimistic outlook on modern life granted, but one that is very persuasively argued by Tyler Durden inFight Club. It draws attention to our materialistic and selfish desires in modern society, and how our lives lack any real substance, leading us to purchase identities from brands who care nothing for us, rather than creating one for ourselves. Tyler asserts that society offers us nothing, and that we seek refuge in material possessions and commodities to fill the emptiness and lack of meaning with our lives, yet the Narrator pursuing the “Ikea nesting instinct” within Fight Club remains empty and numb, showing that such desires will not ‘complete’ us as they cannot fill the ‘hole’ within ourselves. As “the middle men of history” with nothing to fight for we find ourselves starved for meaning and seek refuge in materialistic desires which don’t provide sufficient consolation. This message resonated with me greatly, and I see it clearly reflected in the real world; society has made us unrecognisable as people and so we fixate on TV shows and designer brands to distract us from our meaningless, empty lives.

It’s thought-provoking nature, fantastic cast and great style makes Fight Club one of the best films ever made, so I’d highly recommend a watch.

– Samuel Capper

There Will Be Blood

Firstly, I’ve got to make it clear, that in terms of its plot, There Will Be Blood doesn’t inspire me. The story of a cruel, drunk, violent oil magnate and his chaotic life at the turn of the Twentieth Century is not one you watch and hope to emulate. Instead, what I find inspiring about Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece is the man behind the oil magnate, Daniel Day-Lewis.

I believe that Day-Lewis, who recently announced his retirement from acting, is the greatest living actor still (just about) working today. I don’t make this claim off the back of his unprecedented three Academy Awards for Best Actor, the second of which he won for this 2007 epic, though this in its own right would be enough to place him alongside Bogart and Brando. Nor is it his unmatched commitment to the roles, from going to the extreme by remaining in character for the duration of filming, on and off set.

Its the fact he is able to star in a film where the exterior is primarily a barren wasteland, and he is able to fill this space with his performance alone. Daniel Plainview is an abominable man, motivated by an unhealthily-driven greed and fuelled by hatred. Yet you can’t look away for even a second of screen time. That is acting. That is Daniel Day-Lewis. That is why I’m inspired.

– Dan Heard

Unbroken

“However dark the night, however, dim our hopes, the light will always follow darkness.”

Unbroken, the 2014 movie directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell that features the battle of one man’s strength against the utmost hardship. Based on the book Unbroken: A World War II story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption and following the story of USA Olympian Louis ‘Louie’ Zamperini we see a man go through the trials of the Japanese war camps. This movie will show you the true power of the human nature of survival and make you wish to embody the strength of all those who suffered for the sake of humankind – to me, inspiring isn’t even a strong enough word. O’Connell showed himself in a new light as it is impossible to watch him in this movie without feeling an immense sense of pride for how well he portrayed the range of emotions needed for a war central film.

If you need to feel inspired, or want to watch a film that will have you glued from start to finish, look no further. If anything this movie showed me that we can overcome anything and become stronger from it.

– Hannah Stait

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