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Central Theme: Film
  • Angels with Dirty Faces: Suffering for the good of others.
  • The Iron Giant: It doesn't matter if you appear threatening or villainous. You are what you choose to be.
  • Swing Kids - What should someone do when faced with evil in a corrupt society?
  • Run, Lola, Run: Learn from your mistakes.
  • Big Fish: The nature of stories, and whether the emotional meaning and impact they have on someone outweighs whether or not it's true.
  • Mystery Team: How do you find the perfect balance between growing up and following your childhood dreams?
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Don't be afraid of taking chances.
  • Dr. Strangelove: How do you save mankind when they are bent on destroying themselves?
  • The Terminator: There is no fate but what we make.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
    • Sometimes you can't Take a Third Option.
    • Potential and raw intelligence are not the same thing as experience.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: The wisdom of preserving what you have today (particularly the environment) for the future; after all, no one knows what tomorrow might bring, and what might happen if you suddenly find you need it and it's not there anymore...
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Can there ever be peace between two peoples who have always hated each other?
  • Star Trek: First Contact: Whether or not human emotion is weakness.
  • Saw: Overcome your Fatal Flaw. Your life might depend on it.
    • Even more prominent is: Cherish your life, and don't squander it for any reason.
  • Alien: The folly of trying to use something inherently evil for profit.
  • Jerry Maguire: Whether or not ideals and principles are a liability in business.
  • The Spider-Man movies have the theme of whether one can remain a hero even as their life crumbles around them.
  • Rashomon: Truth is subjective.
  • Dirty Dancing: The rediscovery of innocence.
  • Casablanca: Are there some causes so worth fighting for that even love should be sacrificed to fight for them?
  • Heat:
    • The thin line between police and the thieves they pursue.
    • The price of devoting yourself to excelling in a particular vocation on yourself and those around you.
  • Alpha Dog: Be wary of your actions or you may suffer the consequences.
  • The Machinist: The truth will set you free, no matter how awful.
  • Hitch: Be yourself.
  • Dirty Harry: How crime and law enforcement are hideously intertwined.
  • Gone Baby Gone: What is ethically right and what is lawfully right don't always overlap.
  • RoboCop (1987): He may be a corporate mascot but Robocop, along with good honest cops, will always stand for what's right. Even if the people who made him don't.
  • Apocalypse Now: The effects of war on a man's psyche, and what kind of monsters can be found lurking within as a result.
  • Unforgiven: How history is distorted by sensationalism.
  • The Matrix: The nature of reality and the world around us; can we trust what our senses tell us? Might authority be using this to mislead us?
    • Each film has a central theme: The Matrix: Belief, Reloaded: Purpose, Revolutions: Choices.
  • Star Wars: How big things can be beaten by something small.
  • Ghostbusters: Heroism is a thankless job but someone has to do it.
  • It's a Wonderful Life: The importance of a single person to the community of man.
  • Final Destination: The futility and madness of putting off the inevitable.
  • Home Alone: Self-reliance.
  • The Karate Kid: The different dynamics of the student/mentor relationship.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Even war won't stop the greedy.
  • Megamind: Doing what you believe you have been chosen or are fundamentally supposed to do (destiny) versus doing what you want to do (free will) in order to achieve happiness.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Can a good man be also a scoundrel and vice-versa?
  • Seven Samurai: Who has it better, the peasants who live normal but undistinguished lives or the warriors who live exciting but violent lives?
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian: Whether it is wise or not to follow someone who seems to have all the answers.
  • Memento: The ways in which memory — and thus people — can be distorted and manipulated, by ourselves and those around us.
  • Batman Forever: Identity.
  • The Wild Bunch: The Power of Friendship, Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and Undying Loyalty.
  • Rambo: The war that goes on inside every soldier.
  • The Thin Red Line: War as a truly unnatural phenomenon.
  • The Big Lebowski: The things the rich (money, trophy wives) and the not so rich (bowling, the rug) find important.
  • The Godfather: Loyalty to family is well and good but to what extent?.
  • American Psycho: How the pursuit of success can blind one to obvious dangers.
  • No Country for Old Men: The world is a harsh and uncaring place. Deal with it.
  • Gone with the Wind: The conflict between lofty ideals and hard edged reality.
  • Full Metal Jacket: Is killing part of human nature?
  • Battle Royale: The breakdown of family and friendship.
  • Gladiator: How A Simple Plan never seems to go right. Also the role of charisma, personality and popularity in leadership.
  • Goodfellas: Why are people lured into organized crime?
  • True Grit: How can you tell if one has grit or character?
  • Evil Dead: Man's capacity to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds.
  • Rebel Without a Cause: The need for grown ups to grow up.
  • Oldboy: What is at the end of revenge, contentment or heartache?
  • American Beauty: Changing your life, for better or worse.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: The effects that legend and reality have on each other.
  • Pirates Of Silicon Valley: Theft and ownership.
  • Nikita: Living with past mistakes.
  • Ikiru: How do you spend the last days of your life?
  • The Running Man: The dehumanising effects of sensationalist television on those who participate in it and those who watch it.
  • The Magic Christian: Every man has his price.
  • Shaun of the Dead: Getting stuck in a rut with your life, and what it might take to kick you out of it and realize your potential. For some people, it might be a bust-up with their loved one or an argument with their friend. For others, a Zombie Apocalypse might be necessary.
  • The Thing (1982): Paranoia and the loss of trust.
  • Mad Max: Holding on to the bits and pieces of society and civility.
  • The Maltese Falcon: Can matters of the heart override one's sense of justice?
  • Citizen Kane: How will the world remember you when you are gone? Also, money can't buy love or happiness.
  • Network: How viewers and network execs are enslaved by television.
  • As Good As It Gets: The small, unexpected or even unwanted changes in life.
  • The Avengers: Those with power should should learn to settle their differences when dealing with a bigger problem, in order to work better. This relationship is found not only between the titular characters themselves, but also between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the World Security Council.
  • The Dark Knight Saga as a whole also explores the strengths, weaknesses and dangers in various political and social systems and what effects these can have. Batman Begins is about what happens when our established forms of authority — the police, the court system, local government etc — become too corrupt, decadent and uncaring to effectively function. The Dark Knight, is about the conflict between order and chaos, and the dangers of pure, unrestrained nihilism and anarchy. The Dark Knight Rises is about the dangers of unfettered populist mob rule.
    • In addition to the above political themes, each film explores an aspect of the human psyche and condition. Begins is about fear: it's the ubiquitous state of the general populace, and used as a weapon by all three principle villains (Falcone, Crane and Ra's al Ghul), as well as by Batman himself. Dark Knight is about freedom and responsibility, order and chaos, whether it's best to be The Fettered or The Unfettered. And Rises is about truth, trust, and pain: every lie and deception carried out in the course of the series contributes to making the situation much worse, and revealing the truth provides the steps to improving matters. Bane is a villain defined by the physical pain he feels, contrasted to the psychological pain Batman feels. Significantly, by the end of the film every main character knows Batman's true identity.
    • The power of myth also is a significant theme, as is the problem of escalation — Batman ultimately derives his strength not from his money, which can be lost, or his physical powers, which can fail him, but his power as a symbolic icon to the people of Gotham, and in doing so becomes "more than just a man". On the flip side, however, the more powerful the myth of Batman becomes, the more powerful his enemies become as they rise to challenge him.
    • The films also warn about making short-sighted decisions to solve immediate problems. Bruce Wayne joining the League of Shadows, Gotham's gangsters hiring The Joker, Dagett hiring Bane and Catwoman stealing Bruce's fingerprints all prove to be very bad ideas.
  • Giant: The constantly changing face of family.
  • King Arthur: Is freedom tangible? Can it be given or taken away?
  • American Pie: Searching for things that are actually under your nose.
  • "Manos" The Hands of Fate: Possession and ownership.
  • Fargo - The stupid things people do out of desperation.
  • Carlitos Way - What debts should and should not be paid.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil: How first impressions can be misleading and deceptive. Also, the importance of communication to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Romy And Michele's High School Reunion: Living well is the best revenge. Also, life goes on after high school, and one's experience there eventually matters very little, if at all, in the grand scheme of things.
  • Reservoir Dogs: Loyalty and betrayal.
  • Pulp Fiction: The ways in which people and their lives connect and overlap, even if those connections may not be immediately apparent or clear at first glance.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: Is the truth more important than a good legend?
  • The Big Country: The nature of bravery, particularly in the face of futile conflict.
  • The Indiana Jones series: What's treasure versus what's valuable; each movie sees Indy and his friends on the hunt for some ancient artefact of incalculable power and worth, but while they might not end up with the treasure they usually come to some understanding about themselves that is more valuable and meaningful.
  • Hobo With a Shotgun: Do desperate times really call for desperate measures, or will that just make everything worse?
  • Brazil: The banality of evil
  • Pleasantville: The conflicts between nostalgia for the past and the reality of the past. Also, accepting the present, flaws and all, versus living in the past.
  • Highwaymen - Revenge.
  • The Hitcher - The thrill of the hunt.
  • The Seventh Seal - Why death is necessary to the great scheme of things.
  • M - Helplessness. The feeling of having no control over events.
  • Red Riding Hood - The devastating effects of secrets in a community.
  • Dangerous Liaisons - Corruption and Redemption.
  • Back to the Future - If you had the knowledge to change your life, would you?
    • No matter what time you're in - past, present, future - people are always going to be people.
  • The Breakfast Club - Is there anything beneath the face one shows to the world?
  • Silence of the Lambs - Disillusion with authority figures.
  • The Rock - The power of the will.
  • The Wicker Man - The need to believe that things will get better in the future.
  • Inception: The power of an idea.
  • The Last Emperor: There is no such thing as obscurity. Everyone's life is an epic.
  • 8 MM: Sometimes, people do horrible things for no reason other than they can.
  • The Conversation: The difference between listening and hearing.
  • Pacific Rim:
    • Family. All of the regular Jaeger pilot teams we see, barring Raleigh and Mako, are related in one way or another, and there's a recurring theme of surrogate family members. Even the Kaiju, in an odd sort of way, are related to each other, despite being genetically-engineered bioweapons. One is even pregnant.
    • Unity. All of the family teams are defeated. The final victory requires everyone to work together; people of different races and nationalities, people who love and hate each other, fighters, scientists, and even criminals have to contribute something to achieve the win.
    • Hope. The hero of the movie refuses to trade ten lives in favor of improved odds for saving two million more, and instead resolves to save two million and ten lives. The entire Jaeger outfit at the end is still unhesitatingly going out to fight even when the war is visibly beyond the point of no return. The politicians who try to cut their losses and be pragmatic and play lifeboat are shown as taking the road of good intentions straight down to Hell. It's only the people who refuse to acknowledge 'hopeless' odds and instead persist in believing that they can score a clean victory rather than a mediated loss who end up achieving anything.
  • James Bond:
  • The Terminal: Rules shouldn't be absolute. While the rules exist for a reason, they can sometimes prevent good people from getting the help they need.
  • The Ox Bow Incident: Taking the law into your own hands is a bad thing.
  • Maleficent: The loss and reclamation of faith in humanity.
  • Godzilla (2014): That Nature Is Not Nice and that mankind isn't nearly as powerful as they think they are. Also, family is important.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: The importance of maintaining hope, even in the face of hardship and tragedy, because hope can conquer anything, and that just because someone has lost their way, it doesn't mean they're lost forever.
  • Galaxy Quest: The appreciation of fandom, warts and all.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Peace doesn't happen if only a few are willing to work at it. All must be striving to achieve it.
  • Requiem for a Dream: The lengths to which someone will go to escape their reality.
  • Boyhood:
    • Time passes by quicker than you realize, and life isn't defined by single events, so you need to learn to live in the moment.
    • The realization that adults don't always have the answers to the larger questions in your life, and the need to be your own man without completely falling into cynicism.
  • Calvary: Guilt and forgiveness.

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