Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR favorite “Human Spirit” movie?

It’s almost cliché to use the phrase “testament to the human spirit”.

So many movies attempt to inspire, be uplifting, speak to the potential and courage of the human being.

Due to today being the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I struggled to find an appropriate topic. I knew that I didn’t want to focus on the tragedy, although I did consider briefly just stepping out of the confine of movies and discussing that day directly. When I thought about the films associated with the tragedy, however, the “Human Spirit” element came into focus. Even though that day was incredibly tragic, there was also an incredible demonstration of bravery, courage, and compassion during and following the events.

So what movies best illustrate the power of the human spirit for you? Are there any films you find inspirational? It can be sports films, if you like. “Rocky”, “Rudy”, “Breaking Away”, all great examples. “Apollo 13″ perhaps. Maybe in honor of the Chicago Teacher’s Strike, you’d like to pick a classroom movie “Stand and Deliver”, or “Lean on Me”. It can be anything… “The Shawshank Redemption”, “The Pursuit of Happyness”. The world has no shortage of movies that inspire.

People are capable of tremendous things, and many incredible movies have tried to draw on that. Let’s hear it. What are YOUR favorite “Human Spirit” movies?

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89 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR favorite “Human Spirit” movie?

  1. Two sit on the pinnacle of my list for they are not only my unquestioned top human spirit films they are in my top 5 all time life long list!

    Shawshank Redemption
    The Green Mile

    For all of the dark side of humanity Stephen King put out into the world some of his very best genius manifested itself in the milk of human hope. Priceless.

    • Apollo 13 is a great choice. I love that flick. Really fresh in my mind, too, I just wrote it up here less than a month ago.

      That’s such a great choice. People totally answer the call of duty in that movie. A genuine portrait of courage and ingenuity under fire. Nice pick. Very nice.

    • Shawshank out of the gate quickly with two early mentions! I figure that’ll be a very popular response, today.

      Chicken Run, huh? Can a movie count as an human spirit movie if its about Chickens? :) Its a metaphysical question that has long baffled scholars…

  2. Sports movies encapsulate the idea of the human spirit really well. I think the best interpretations of it have come in American Football films such as Friday Night Lights and Remember The Titans. I think war films have also provided a good platform for this idea to come to the fore – perhaps Saving Private Ryan is a good example, or the television series Band of Brothers is even better.

    • Sports Movies definitely do capture that idea well. You’ve gotta throw “Rudy” in there if you want to talk inspirational Football movies (says the guy who left “Rudy” off of his Top Ten Sports Movies, LOL!)

      Band of Brothers is a great show, I love that one.

      I have to revisit Private Ryan. I havent really watched it since it firat came out, and my recollection of it is completely dominated by the opening sequence.

      Good choices across the board though, Dan!!

  3. BRAVEHEART

    William Wallace: “Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

    “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” -William Wallace

    • :D Now you’re back on your game, buddy!! LOL

      LOVE that last quote. One of my favorite movie lines of all time. Makes SO much sense. It’s crazy.

      Nice choice. I hope my feelings about “Crazy Mel” start to die down soon, so I can start MTESSing some of his movies!

  4. Obviously, it’s Highlander 2. Because until we’ve learned how to ressurect Sean Connery with the power of thinking about him, humanity’s spirit has not reached its true potential.

    King/Darabont movies are great choices, and would probably get my vote, if I hadn’t recently rewatched T2. Because, if a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life… maybe we can too. :P

  5. Trickier question than it sounds like… I thought of a few I liked, but realized that a lot of times the premise doesn’t work out so well for the protagonist (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next, Cool Hand Luke…)

    And then I had it. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Nobody ever said the triumph of the human spirit had to be serious. It may be more human if it’s not.

    • Ohhhh yeah. “The Help” was pretty good, wasn’t it?

      I’ll have to add “Freedom Writers” to “I am Sam” in today’s “I havent seen it club”.

      So far though, that tally has been pretty manageable, so I’m ok with it. :D

  6. I’ll mention a movie that most people likely have not seen. I thought ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ was inspirational and the fact that Sam Childers is a flawed human being made it more intriguing. He was moved to help people thousands of miles away in Africa just from one mission trip and he still does so today. He’s not a perfect person and the film wasn’t flawless, but it showed that a ‘hero’ doesn’t always come in a well, perfect package.

    I also just finished my review about some courageous men who help propelled the end of the Apartheid regime. It’s the quiet heroes that I find very compelling, and a lot of them died eleven years ago today.

      • I think it’s inspirational with/without GB’s involvement, but yeah :D I’d give that movie a chance Fogs, it wasn’t marketed properly for some reason, but definitely worth a look.

  7. Conviction came to mind, but the movie itself wasn’t as good. I just can’t believe a woman finished high school and put herself through law school just to get her brother out of prison. That is amazing (and a true story).

    My favorite “human spirit” movie, I guess, is 127 Hours. The first time I watched it I was a mess, sobbing uncontrollably.

    • Yeah, you know? I never watched 127 hours. Here’s the thing. a) I know how the story ends… big deterrent there. b) I really wasn’t down for watching him saw his leg off c) I watched the beginning of the movie with him on the bike, and I had this kind of “serves him right” vibe going… wasn’t boding well.

      So after i got distracted from it I never wound up going back.

      I probably should though I know its supposed to be good.

      • I knew how it ended as well, after all, the guy write a book about his experience, but that didn’t lessen the impact one bit.

        That scene when he chops his arm off is pretty intense, but it’s not something that would scar you for life or anything.

        And the “serves him right” vibe you talk about, I felt that way at the beginning too but I changed my perception of Arn and started feeling for him.

  8. Over The Top. Not only the best arm-wrestling movie all-time, the best father/son movie of all time, and the best Stallone movie of all time, but is one of the all-time film affirmations of the human spirit.

    “The world meets nobody halfway. When you want something, you gotta take it.” Damn straight.

    Yeah, that and Shawshank.

  9. Places in the Heart. Found and touched all the right buttons. The ending was a movie magic wow moment that you just can’t forget!

  10. Ruuuudy, Ruuudy, Ruuuudy, Ruuuudy….

    …is certainly up there, but I’ll have to agree with pretty much everyone else who’s posted here and go with The Shawshank Redemption. When Andy Dufrense raises his arms to the skies in the rain? Genuine chills went down my back. He was a man who by all rights should be broken, but his spirit was too strong.

    And because no one has mentioned it yet, I’m going to throw my hat in for “Cool Hand Luke.” There are a lot of similarities to Shawshank in a lot of ways. At the end *SPOILERS MASSIVE GO AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT* he could have turn himself in very, very easily, but his sense of right and wrong knew that the last time he was seemingly broken, it destroyed more than his own soul: it crushed the souls of all the men he loved, too. So there was only one option, for him to keep hope alive — to stay true to himself, even if it meant dying. And while those men he knew were still in that prison camp, they wouldn’t again be broken. A great, great movie.

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