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This Century's Top 7 Films for Recovering the Wonder of Existence


A brief selection of recent films that have best explored the mystery of being alive.

A few weeks ago, the BBC released a list of the 100 best films of the century. To reach their selection, they collected the opinions of 177 critics from countries all over the world, analyzed each and based on the frequency of mentions, condensed these into a final list. At Faena Aleph, we shared the list of the Top 10, and a brief reflection on why, perhaps, the second most mentioned film might have been first.

Now we want to share a selection from the list based on one critical point: the simple wonder of existence. Cinema has gradually come to assume a place among all of the arts as a resource for exploring life in the broadest sense of the word.

Directors, actors and screenwriters have taken but a small fragment of what it means to live (to love, to grow old, to suffer, to enjoy, be confused, to meet, etc.) and they’ve examined those films that will raise more questions, doubts and confirmations, in audiences.

Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)

One of the fundamental questions in Linklater’s films revolves around the problem of time: What is it? What elapses? How do we take each step? In Boyhood, the director took a meditation on this theme beyond limits no one had tried before.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

What would happen if we could change our memories? A present-day classic confronts us with that very question.

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

One of the most poignant tributes to life to have been made in the history of film.

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

With the ambitious aim of reflecting all of life, in real time, in all of its multiplicity and with all of the complexity of circumstances.

Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

Love isn’t easy, but Haneke’s film takes this premise to an all new extreme.

The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

Based on an anecdote about Nietzsche, the directors portray life as it happens every day from the day-to-day, bare minimum of facts. These are linked to each other ever so gradually to form what we call “existence.”

The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Everything decays, except a desire to celebrate life.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)

Life is a constant repetition in which everything happens, again, though always in different ways.

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