Films with Spiritual & Moral Themes

Following are select films with spiritual and moral themes. A longer list follows the short list.

Download Full List as a PDF 

Short List

  • The Seventh Seal—Despair in a world without God
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind—The quest for transcendence without God
  • The Matrix—The question of what is real in a postmodern world
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors—The problem of morality without absolutes
  • Chariots of Fire—Heroism inspired by radically different quests
  • The Shawshank Redemption—Redemptive suffering in a fallen world
  • Babette’s Feast—Reconciliation through sacrificial love
  • Enchanted April —Enhanced relationships as a hint of heaven

Longer List

• Good synthesis of artistic merit and spiritual themes
•• Great synthesis of artistic merit and spiritual themes
Bold = films taught by Ken Boa

About Schmidt
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein)
All Quiet on the Western Front
Amacord (Fellini)
• Amadeus
Amélie (Jeunet)
• Babette’s Feast (Axel)
A Beautiful Mind
Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)
• Being There
Ben-Hur (1959)
• Blade Runner
Blue, White, Red (Krysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy)
Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen)
Bruce Almighty (some sections)
• Casablanca
•• Chariots of Fire
Citizen Kane
City Slickers (some sections)
• Close Encounters of the Third Kind
• The Color of Paradise (Majidi)
•• Crimes and Misdemeanors
Dead Poets Society
The Decalogue, (Kieslowski)
The Deer Hunter
Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel)
Dreams (Kurosawa)
• Enchanted April
Forest Gump
The Fountainhead
Gate of Hell (Kurosawa)
The Gospel According to Matthew (Pasolini)
• Grand Canyon
Groundhog Day
Henry V
The Hour of the Wolf (Bergman)
Ikiru (Kurosawa)
It’s a Wonderful Life
•• Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring (Berri)
• King of Hearts
• La Strada (Fellini)
Last of the Mohicans
Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais)
•• Les Misérables
• Life Is Beautiful
The Lion King
•• The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King)
The Magnificent Ambersons
A Man for All Seasons
The Matrix
Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
A Midsummer’s Night Dream (1935)
Much Ado about Nothing
Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922; Herzog, 1979)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
October Sky
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
• The Ox-bow Incident
Rain Man
•• Rashomon (Kurosawa)
Regarding Henry
• Saving Private Ryan
The Scarlet Letter
• The Searchers
The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran)
•• The Seven Samurai (Kurasowa)
•• The Seventh Seal (Bergman)
•• The Shawshank Redemption
•• Schindler’s List
Simon Burch
• Tender Mercies
The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Olmi)
Throne of Blood (Kurosawa)
The Truman Show
2001: A Space Odyssey
Ugetsu (Kurosawa)
• Unforgiven
Viridiana (Buñuel)
• War and Peace (Bondarchuk)
• Wild Strawberries (Bergman)
The Wizard of Oz
• Yojimbo (Kurosawa)

See top foreign films. 

Also see Ken Boa’s list of recommended film directors and comparative studies (movie-to-movie and movie-to-book).