10 Philosophical Films About Identity

Do you think you have too much free time? Nothing like the philosophical movies to fill that existential void with hours of footage, hours of subsequent reflection and hours of repeat viewing, to see if this time something is understood.

Here is a list of ten of those titles that will make you think more than usual and that show to what extent cinema and philosophy can go together.

10 philosophical films that combine narration and reflection

1. The Matrix (1999)

Predictable, yes. And to a certain extent disappointing, taking into account the sentence that closed the introduction of this article: The Matrix is ​​much more about cinema than about philosophy. But the truth is that no article about philosophical films should lack this title; not so much because of the originality of its approaches, but because of how accessible it makes the theme of the conflict between senses, reality and identity. Thanks to The Matrix, any Westerner can intuit the Platonic and Cartesian idea that we live in a world of shadows that hide the true, and all this without having to read the classics.

Because the world of the “true” and the “false” is represented here very explicitly and with rather little subtlety. Great contrasts that mark the differences between reality and The Matrix, a fictional world created to dominate the human species, but that also serves to give the film the spectacularity it seeks from the first moment.

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2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

It has been said many times that the people we know live in our minds. What happens when that “someone” that lives in us is a very important person from whom we want to distance ourselves? This film takes that principle to the extreme, creating an interesting narrative.

3. The Truman Show (1998)

In the vein of The Matrix, but somewhat more subtle (although not much more). However, here the true/false dichotomy is also the division between the private and the public. Curiously, Truman Burbank lives in a public space mediated by a private entity that does not hesitate to profit from the poor protagonist’s daily secrets.

4. Gattaca (1997)

Gattaca is many things, but among them is presenting itself as a narrative in which the conflict between genetic predispositions and freedom. Biological pressures are presented here as an extension of a very complex bureaucratic apparatus in which certain people have no place.

5. Solaris (1972)

Solaris is, perhaps, the king of philosophical films. It’s easy to find similarities with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but talking about Solaris… those are already big words. Tarkovsky uses a SciFi setting to articulate a narration based on reflections and philosophy.


6. Memento (2001)

We repeat with Memento, which already appeared in another article titled “10 films about Psychology and mental disorders.” As a title included in a list of philosophical films, Memento deals with the relationship between identity and memory, that is, those experiences that metamorphose and appear independently of our will to try to control them. It is also about our ability to deceive ourselves for practical purposes or out of our desire to give meaning to our lives.

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7. Blade Runner (1982)

The cinematic classic based on the novel Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick. The movie Blade Runner deals with nature of human consciousness and the use we make of it to create a moral wall that separates us from other entities. What is it that makes us humans?


8. Waking Life (2001)

Waking Life takes place in the terrain in which reason is most painfully compromised: the dream world. Therefore, it is not surprising that reflections and experiences crowd into it through an ordered chaos, always one step ahead of logic and what is expected. Throughout its almost two hours of duration we witness a parade of speeches that, having been hidden behind the director’s consciousness, decide to reveal themselves while he sleeps.

It should be noted that, although the film lends itself a lot to making us think about the relationship between our own way of thinking and the discourses and ideologies that culture instills in us, each dream has its own message and its own reason for being.

9. Strange coincidences (2004)

The lives of ordinary characters, examined through someone who struggles to give them a coherent meaning to everything he sees. Detective work will serve to change the way you perceive others, but also to recognize the importance of your own point of view when judging people.

10. Person (1966)

Did you want philosophical movies? Have two cups. Person talks about masks, identity and silences. The narrative is dominated by lyricism, the way in which Bergman suggests that nothing he is showing is true. And he does so by contrasting two facets of human life: irrational silence and the discourse that articulates identity.

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