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What is the one movie that you have seen that has changed your way of thinking?

The answer should be limited to a single movie that is the best among your choices and your answer should also have a brief description of as to why you think that specific movie has changed or has the most impact on your way of thinking. Here many answers are just a list of some popular movies with no reason attached. Please do not do that.

Answer Wiki

Selected movies from the answers in the order of # of votes :
  • Into the Wild
  • Gattaca
  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Swades
  • Forrest Gump
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Searching for Bobby Fisher
  • October Sky
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Network
  • Goodwill Hunting
  • The Last Samurai
  • Requiem for a dream
  • Peaceful warrior
  • Beautiful mind
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Shallow Hal
Sribatsa PathySribatsa Pathy, Blogs at http://sribatsadotcom... (more)
99 upvotes by Bob LeJeune, Mike Leary, Gowtam Reddy, (more)
I know the question asks for only one movie....... but there are just so many answers.....
My personal Favorite and am sure a true inspiration for many :

This movie teaches us many truths about life and the biggest one that every individual must learn "Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free". Almost every line that Red (Morgan Freeman) utters seems to be symbolic of the "realization" that one arrives at on the path of soul searching. While witnessing this masterpiece, somewhere along the line you realize that your life has become a bit better thanks to this movie.

A must watch for all.

Another movie on my must watch list :

In words of Robert Ebert : "I've never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that  matter I've never seen a movie quite like Forrest Gump. Any attempt to  describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it  is, but let me try. It's a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a  dream...

and .......
This is bound to change the way you see your life. Makes you realise that peace is not just a word, or a state of being, it is something which should be cherished. Some really character performances and brilliant direction. What Spielberg does here makes all other war movies seem mediocre. Another must watch!!

As an engineer.... this is unarguably one of the movies which has changed my way of thinking. This movie continually tells us that we must never give up on our dreams. This message is brought to life through a perfect adaptation of a true story and number of powerful performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper. A must watch for everyone who has a dream!! Cause this is the story of a Dream that would not die!

This is a movie which will teach you that the most important thing in life is to simply "Be there". Its a beautiful movie.

Makes you think of the extent to which a son would go to get the love and approval of his father. Really heart warming movie. Makes us see what are the really most important things in life.

Based on the novel the Invention of Hugo Cabret. This takes you on a magical ride as a boy tries to decipher the last message left to him by his father and ends up finding the cure to another man's Despair.

This is Frank Capra's masterpiece which will make you laugh, make you cry and in the end realise that he is the richest man who has the most number of friends.

Another Frank Capra Masterpiece.... It will promise to change the way you think!!

Although many say that the Spiderman Trilogy is just another superhero movie series..... But i would like to disagree. Its a very thought provoking trilogy. It starts off with a winner "The story of my life is not for the faint of heart" . Throughout the series it keeps delivering powerful dialogues with a very entertaining story line(Can't say that for the last installment). But somewhere along the trilogy you start forgetting that Tobey Maguire just plays the character of Peter Parker and you actually feel that he is Peter Parker and you cry and laugh with him. Although i loved the second movie most but My favourite line comes from the third "In life, We will always have a choice...... We must choose to be the best of what we can be"!!
Aman AnandAman Anand, Can't get enough of them.
17 upvotes by Martin Fox, Eric Tseng, Cedomir Lukic, (more)
Tree of Life (2011) - the film challenged my notions of the ways in which time can be structured as well as developing a new and exciting aesthetic, which involved a stream of consciousness that delved far beyond the individual and explored a specific abstract concept from the very origins of the universe up until the present and imagined afterlife.

Art, let alone cinema, doesn't get much more ambitious, challenging and exhilarating than this.

Quora UserQuora User, I am me, no excuses, no regret... (more)
38 upvotes by Quora User, Rishav Mishra, Quora User, (more)

American History X is a film about hate and about the roots and causes  of hate. It is about redemption and reversing wrongs. Like so many other films about hate and revenge, there is a cyclical theme to the violence and the hate. Danny notes near the end of the film that ‘hate is baggage’ and the film carries this baggage through to the tragic and  painfully inevitable end. It is a bold conclusion.A bitter lesson in the never-ending cycle of violence that spirals out of endless hatred.
Devesh Kumar PandeyDevesh Kumar Pandey, it's not a movie, if it doesn'... (more)
205 upvotes by Prateek Tripathi, Quora User, Vikas Rana, (more)
It has to be "The Pursuit of Happyness." You will be constantly looking for *happyness* (sic) with Chris Gardner till the end. It has stuck to my mind that how I shouldn't give up no matter how long the struggle goes. How the happiness on achieving something would be ridiculous if there is no struggle involved.
Jill UchiyamaJill Uchiyama, Evolutionary
6 upvotes by Bob LeJeune, Joel V Benjamin, Quora User, (more)

Sophie Scholl (2005) was one of the most authentic and compelling stories that I have ever seen on film. It is based on the true life of an anti-Nazi activist, Sophie Scholl who belonged to the underground group "The White Rose". The majority of the film takes place in an interrogation room and claims to incorporate the real transcription between Scholl and her interrogator. When given a chance to walk away from the crime of distributing anti-Nazi party flyers on a college campus, Scholl takes a stand and in turn, accepts the consequences of her actions. The ending is one of the most powerful scenes I have ever witnessed in a film. In it, Scholl walks decidedly to her fate peacefully gazing up through the ethereal light of her last day, and at age 19, she connects with her own spirit and soul though the veil of hatred and bigotry that permeates the world at that point in history exists. In essence, she decides not to live in that world. She is the eptimomy of a true heroine- and it leaves the viewer shaken to the core and confronted with one's own strength in the face of such an absolute choice. The acting is superb. I highly recommend this film and yes, it changed my life.
Quora UserQuora User, some mirth.
Gattaca is one film that really made me think.

Here's a synopsis of the movie from Rotten Tomatoes [1] (emphasis mine):

New Zealand screenwriter Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) made his feature directorial debut with this science fiction drama, set in a future when one's life is determined by genetic engineering rather than education or experience. The wealthy can choose the genetic makeup of their descendants. People are designed to fit into whatever role is decided before birth. But what happens when someone desires another way of life? Citizens in this impersonal future-world are fashioned as perfect specimens, so those in the natural-born minority are viewed as inferior to the pre-planned perfect specimens (aka "Valids") who dominate. One of the natural-borns (aka "In-Valids"), Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), has several defects (poor vision, emotional problems, and short 30-year life expectancy), but he also develops a different outlook on his pre-ordained fate. He yearns to break free from society's constraints, and he dreams of a journey into space as a Gattaca Corp. navigator. To accomplish his goal, he enlists the aid of DNA broker German (Tony Shalhoub) and makes contact with Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), who was paralyzed in an accident and is willing to sell his superior genetic materials. Vincent assumes Jerome's identity and is scheduled for a flying mission. However, a week before his flight, a Gattaca mission director is murdered, and all members of the program are the suspects. Meanwhile, he develops a romantic interest in a beautiful Valid, Irene (Uma Thurman), prevented from going into space because of her heart defect. Tracked by a relentless investigator who is methodically jigsawing all the pieces together, Jerome finds his aspirations dissolving into stardust

The lengths to which Vincent is willing to go to realize his dream has had a deep impact on how I think about and react to the changes in my own life. He is disadvantaged in a way (genetically) that cannot be simply overcome by sheer force of will power or just hard-work -- and which is exactly what he goes on to do. It's an amazing story.

And then there's this iconic dialogue:

You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.

And the best tagline ever (thanks Leo!):

"There is no gene for the human spirit."

This is one of my all-time favourite movies.

Jan HenselJan Hensel, From Berlin, born in the 90s, ... (more)
14 upvotes by Vijay Singh, Bob LeJeune, Quora User, (more)
Seriously: the Truman Show. I know it's not a particularly smart movie. But I watched it when I was eight or so and I started thinking how I could prove that I do not live in that kind of isolated bubble in a scripted reality and I realised I couldn't. At least not definitively.
After that the basic idea of Totall Recall really got me to realise that I cannot know anything absolutely certain.
Similar, but less important because I watched it much later, the Matrix.

I know the first two are not at all cinematic masterpieces (at least they aren't in my opinion). But the thinking they provoked was not so different from reading Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Eugene LubomirEugene Lubomir, Designer
Has to be: The Matrix (1999 movie). The idea that reality could be an illusion - your reality as "a" reality an not "the" reality seemed to be a rather innovative idea at the time. (Also the idea that you could manipulate the world around, since it is not real or whatnot)

"the thirteenth floor" explored a related idea, but was not as talked about a movie that year...
Pulkit YadavPulkit Yadav, CS Student at IIT Delhi
20 upvotes by Quora User, Mayank Gupta, Bob LeJeune, (more)
The Man from Earth.

There are unanswered questions about this sci-fi movie, which make it seem a wild figment of someone's imagination, granted.

However, it definitely made me think about the possibilities if it were true. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
Quora UserQuora User
212 upvotes by Quora User, Aniket Thakkar, Quora User, (more)

"Into the Wild". No other movie has tempted me to let go of everything and go "LIVE" my life. No movie has tempted me so much to go out and meet people and make new friends. And remind me that the world is a big big place, and there are things to see and things to do, apart from this routine life that I do :(

I'm still trapped in the normal boring life.. but this movie has come the closest to let go of my fears and get me to do something about it.

Read more about the plot here:
Gil SilbermanGil Silberman, Lawyer, technologist, social s... (more)
5 upvotes by Dee Baser, Shannon Callahan, Quora User, (more)
Eraserhead - and not in a good way
Godfather - it gets under your skin
Brazil - opens your eyes to absurdities of the world
Baraka - hold the chicken
La Dolce Vita - changed the way I look at things
Balachandar GaneshBalachandar Ganesh
24 upvotes by Anonymous, Deeksha Sharma, Ethan L. Gaskin, (more)

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" 
Ram Manohar BokkisaRam Manohar Bokkisa, Author at www.onlywebanalytics... (more)
32 upvotes by Jagdish Ghuge, Isaac Eohgnaht, Mayank Gupta, (more)

I am breaking the first rule and I am gonna talk about Fight Club!! The answers already has some of my favorite movies like Swades, Tha Man from Earth, Into The Wild and some others.

But Fight Club, it brought a radical change in my pholosophy. Tyler Durden is ruthless. He speaks the truth. He points a gun at your face and makes you follow your heart. He fights. He doesn't give a shit about the worldly things. He makes love whenever he wants with satisfaction. He never fears death. He tells you that you are the dancing crap.

In one word he can be called "Violent Buddha"!!
Gourav JatavGourav Jatav, Notionally Radical. Knowledge ... (more)
I'm an Indian.
From an Indian's perspective point, I would call the movie "Rang De Basanti" as one of the most influential movies in the history of Indian Cinema.
It made me realize the importance of youth in a nation. It made me ponder over my responsibilities & duties as a citizen of India.I learnt how easily politicians bend the rules & use people to benefit themselves. I understood the importance of media in our lives.

Rang De Basanti  (2006 film)

And it's not just me.This movie had a tremendous social influence across India.

Some points from Wikipedia :
  • Rang De Basanti had a noticeable impact on Indian society. A study of bloggers behavioral patterns during the first month of the film's release revealed a significant increase in public ire towards government and politicians for constantly being mired in corruption and bureaucracy and their inefficiency in providing basic amenities.
  • Intense political discussions spurred on by the film's influence were observed.
  • Besides instigating political thought and discussions, it evoked social awakening for many. Some discussions rallied on how citizens should support and contribute to non-governmental organizations and exercising simple citizen duties of paying taxes and voting, while the others contemplated on how to become more responsible towards the country.
  • Youth activism took to streets to protest on public interest issues. A direct impact was on the 1999 Jessica Lall Murder Case, one of the high-profile murder cases in India. A month after the film's release, a court acquitted the main accused because of inefficient prosecution and hostile witnesses.This sparked intense civil protests and media campaigns that sought his re-arrest. Taking cue from the scene in which the protagonists hold a silent, candlelight vigil at New Delhi's India Gate, one such group of demonstrators carried out a similar rally to voice their protest.
  • A survey was conducted to assess reasons for the sudden upsurge in people's social involvements. Eighteen percent of the respondents felt that movies like Rang De Basanti were the main reason behind it.
  • At times, the media also uses the terms "RDB" (abbreviated title of the movie) and "RDB effect" while referring to instances of public activism on matters of public interest.
(Source : Rang De Basanti)

Quora UserQuora User, Quora Member #3634785
5 upvotes by Bob LeJeune, Quora User, Ross Martin, (more)
I can think of two movies that I had watched within a short span that can change your notion of right and wrong.
1. The Bridge on River Kwai(1957)

2. Blade Runner (1982)
These two movies will make you to think from different perspectives.
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