When it comes to existentialism, you can find plenty of different pieces written or shot by a talented person. Existentialism has always been an area in which so many different ideas appeared. Existentialists have a lot of questions to ask. It begins with “Why are we living?” then continues like, “What makes us worthy?” but it is never enough for them. The variation in questions never stops. “What was the purpose of God?”, “What is the purpose of us?”, “Why the God lets the endless cruelty in the world?”… These can be other examples of their hard problems. However, the variety in questions is not the worst part of the existential pieces. The worst is that they never attempt to answer those questions they have asked during the movie or book. This situation takes us to this fact: The reason why they ask those questions is that they need the answers too. It is impossible to leave your seat satisfied after watching an existential movie. At least, I have never encountered a movie like that. You see, there is an undeniable impact of existentialism in cinema. I aim to show some pieces and shortly explain them from an existential perspective. There will not be spoilers. I will not examine the movies deeply.
Fight Club (1999)
Fincher’s dark classic named “Existentialism in Cinema 101” is a unique piece based on the graphic novel written by Chuck Palahniuk. It is about the people who commit to establishing a community named “Fight Club”. Although the misleading capacity of the movie’s name, Fight Club is not just about fighting or creating chaos. The main factor that triggers the necessity of this community for Tyler Durden is his lack of feeling existence. “The things you own end up owning you.” The pain they have after every punch, slap, and kick makes them remember that they are alive, they are also part of the world, even though they have forgotten it in their boring, routine life full of IKEA and Starbucks advertisements. The Chaos Project is the way they remind their existence not only themselves but also the rest of the world.
In the independent British masterpiece by Mike Leigh, there is the character who refuses to give value to his existence. Johnny, unlike the other people, has made his decision about the world long ago. In his book, trying to set a regular life is not necessary. The world will end soon and everything the helpless, desperate humanity built will be destroyed. The only thing that keeps his feelings alive is sex. One of the most primitive demands of the human is also the only one that must be kept satisfied. “Does anybody mind if I scream here, right now?” Naked is a high-tempo movie of not only one person’s expectations from life, but also the people around him. The ending has so big meanings. In my opinion, it represents the runaway of the director who shared his problems with us. The problems on which he has been thinking. Johnny just runs, just like we all want to do at that moment.
Barton Fink (1991)
The movie is based on the troubles that the Coen brothers faced while their writing process of “Miller’s Crossing”. Barton Fink is about a writer who must finish his script for a movie before deadline. However, once the inspire disappears, writing can become a literal nightmare as just we see in this piece. The genius brothers tell a story of existentialism through Barton’s struggle with papers and pen. He does not only try to finish his script, but also, faces some morally questionable situations. His anguish ends up in a literal hell. He cannot find the way out just like every single person who has problems with existing.
The Tree of Life (2011)
As a closer piece of our time, Terrence Malick’s religious movie makes a good ending for this essay. It is about the man who finds the meaning of his existence in his family. The Tree of Life makes us witness what people usually expect from their religion, from the God they believe. The mother chooses grace, and the father follows nature. Children, on the other hand, cannot choose who to follow. The conflict between their parents confuses them. The movie ends with the idea that humanity will only be able to find happiness in the afterlife. When every member of their family comes together and there is nothing to get conflicted anymore.
There are a lot of things to say about the movies I have mentioned in this writing. In order not to give spoilers, I tried to keep them short and understandable. All those pieces are possible candidates for me to write an analysis in the future. So, let us hide something for later. However, depending on the reaction after this essay, I can consider writing more like this. Stay safe and do not forget to send your feedbacks 😊