Hollywood Movies with Profound Dialogue About the Human Condition

There are movies to entertain and regale oneself with laughter and pleasant memories. Then there are those Hollywood movies with profound dialogue that make you sit up and think. Here are some such movies that speak to the Human Condition


1. Gattaca


Release date: 24 October 1997

Director: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law


Gattaca tells the tale of a dystopian society where eugenics is a way of life. People can "customize" their offspring to weed out any predisposition to ailments or disorders, leading to "Genoism." This practice of Genoism involves discriminating against people who are born without genetic enhancement.

Hollywood Movies with Profound Dialogue
Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke

Enter Vincent and Anton, the Kane and Abel of this movie. While Vincent was a boy that resulted from a natural birth, Anton was a genetically perfect being created with pre-established purpose and destiny. With time, the differences between the brothers become more pronounced with Anton growing faster, taller, and stronger than Vincent. This was never more evident than when the siblings played "chicken" where each one had to swim farther in the ocean than the other to win.

The day Vincent left home for a better life, they played chicken one last time - it was the one day the underdog won. As he puts it "It was the moment that made everything else possible." Decades later when the siblings met again, Anton asked how he managed to win that day and how he was performing as well as him. Vincent says "I didn't save anything for the swim back." Every stroke they took farther from the shore was one they had to make back meaning they would have to save enough energy for the swim back.


I didn't save anything for the swim back - Vincent

Vincent won because he didn't hold back, and he would rather die than accept defeat. He applied the drive to his life, in general, to get to where he was in his career.


I kept my mind off the pain by reminding myself that when I was done I would be exactly two inches closer to the stars - Vincent

One of Vincent's ambitions was to become a space traveler, an astronaut. As he was not genetically designed by his parents (a valid), he was rejected by every place that required him to work to be an astronaut. This led him to resort to identity appropriation where he would impersonate a valid to work in his desired profile. When this meant he had to surgically increase his height to successfully pose as a valid, he reminds himself of something after the surgery. "I kept my mind off the pain by reminding myself that when I was done I would be exactly two inches closer to the stars," he says looking at the ceiling of his room.


2. Life of Pi


Release date: 23 November 2012

Director: Ang Lee

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan

Hollywood Movies with Profound Dialogue
It's hard to say goodbye

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Life of Pi is a beautiful movie with amazing visuals and even better dialogue. One of the underlying themes in this movie is saying goodbye. Pi Patel's adventure starts with an unspoken goodbye and ends with one as well. After spending the early days of his youth with his love interest Anandi in Pondicherry, he has to tell her that he will be sailing to Canada with his family. In this lovely scene, Anandi ties a band around his wrist while Pi narrates "I remember everything from that last day, but I don't remember saying goodbye." He was so heartbroken yet hopeful they would meet again that they never exchanged farewells.

I remember everything from that last day, but I don't remember saying goodbye - Pi Patel

While this was by choice the next instances were destined by fate where he loses his family to a shipwreck and never gets to say goodbye. It is a truly tragic event that never got the closure it deserved and constantly weighed on his mind.


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This is followed by Pi's animalistic side leaving without as much as a glance towards the end of the movie. Pi in his delirium and extreme loneliness conjured up Richard Parker, the tiger to personify the part of his character that was purely meant for survival. When both of them reach dry land after a seemingly interminable period of time, Pi relives the separation from his family all over again.


3. Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)


Release date: 7 May 2004

Director: Walter Salles

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, Alberto Granado ( As himself)

Hollywood Movies with Profound Dialogue
Ernesto before he became Che

This Spanish movie is directed by the Brazilian director Walter Salles and details the transformation of Ernesto Guevera into the Che the world is now familiar with. The plot revolves around Ernesto Guevera at the age of 23 and his friend Alberto Granada in their final year of medicine who embark on a memorable bike journey.


The goal of the journey was for Ernesto was to reach a San Pablo leper colony in the Amazon since leprosy was his chosen field of study. Ernesto and Alberto have an interesting journey using their wits and spare change to keep themselves fed and sheltered while traveling. The two young men go from Buenos Aires through Chile and Peru, finally landing up in Venezuela. The geographical trajectory leads the duo from the affluence they know, to the abject poverty that they hadn't quite seen all their lives. (Why does this feel like the tale of Siddhartha who transformed into the Buddha).


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While in Peru, the pair of travelers saw what poverty did to the souls of the indigenous people there. Guevara wrote in his journal "These people who watch us walk through the streets of the town are a defeated race. Their stares are tame, almost fearful, and completely indifferent to the outside world. Some give the impression they go on living only because it’s a habit they cannot shake.”


Some give the impression they go on living ... because it's a habit they cannot shake. - Ernesto Guevera


One scene is particularly significant when Ernesto is celebrating his 30th birthday with the doctors and nurses on the healthy part of the leper colony in Peru. The Amazon river separated the section of the colony where the lepers were isolated. Ernesto takes one look at the river that separates the sick from the healthy and swims across the dangerous water body in the night to reach the other side. I want to celebrate my birthday on the other side he says before he swims out into the dark. It feels like this was one of the moments that transformed Ernesto into Che.


4. Lawrence of Arabia


Release date: 10 December 1962

Director: David Lean

Starring: Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif

Peter O Toole as Lawrence

Lawrence of Arabia is one of those great period pieces with impeccable casting and an amazing plot device. It is based on an actual person - T. E Lawrence, who was widely known for his charismatic personality and ability to lead.


Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence was a British army officer, archaeologist, diplomat, and writer known for the part he played in the Arab Revolt from 1916-1918. He was also involved in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from (1915–1918) against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

In a journey that involved a war within a war and conflict at every step, Lawrence is left torn between keeping the peace and losing his own inner calm. To mediate a dispute between two warring clans, Lawrence agrees to execute a man in order to be an unbiased third-party executioner. This served to bring justice to both the tribes, but it brought up demons of his own.


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When his superior General Allenby tries to promote Lawrence for his exemplary work at the battle of Aqaba, Lawrence objects. He says that he killed a man, and there was something he didn't like about it. Allenby says that's natural and not be bothered by it. It is at this moment when the Colonel says "I enjoyed it."


"I killed a man. There was something about it I didn't like. I enjoyed it" - T. E Lawrence

Carl Jung would be the ideal therapist for Lawrence in this situation. Being a student of Sigmund Freud, Jung talked about the darker parts of a human character and how that served to strengthen the person in the end. But that's a discussion for another time.


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