Monday, September 19, 2011

On My Second Birthday: 10 Movies That Changed Me

It's Moblog's second birthday! The result of the past two years has been 100-word commentaries on up to 350 movies (at a somewhat creepy rate of a movie every two days), and a nurturing collaboration with readers around the world (including a great new film-loving friend: Toast!).

The highest 3 movie reviews viewed by readers during these two years, in descending order, have (weirdly) been: The Human Centipede, Inception and Thor, and the highest number of hits have been from USA, Iran, UK, Canada, and South Korea (then Germany, Malaysia, India, Ukraine, and France), while my only method of blog advertisement, has been internet communication among friends.

This year as a treat, I thought I might add another "list" - a list of a top something I've never seen among other writers (as I did in My Favorites of Favorites entry last year).

I'll list the top movies that changed me. These are neither the top 10 movies of my life, nor the top movies I would enjoy to see over and over again. These are films that contain a quote or a scene or a concept that have significantly changed the way I think, or who I am. I was trying to avoid making it a round number of 10 movies, because that would seem too fake - especially when we're talking about such an arbitrary subject. But somehow, it still strangely came down to 10 movies.

So here they are, the top movies that changed me, in order of date released - obviously an extremely subjective list. I've offered the reason the movie impacted me.


1. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Another person's narration of an event, has almost no value in understanding the event. It's just a very circumstantial glimpse of the event. Huge lesson in sociology, and how much you believe in history.

2. 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)

"I just want to talk ... It's not easy to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first."

And the world has never been the same.

3. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

Too many quotes. Too many moments. But one stands out:

"Only don't tell me that you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and it makes me very angry."

4. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)

"No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try. "

5. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)

"Don't let yourself get attached to anything you're not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."

6. Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996)

The bells toll in the final scene: Even prostitutes go to heaven. Von Trier definitively deconstructs and reconstructs any notion of religion.

7. Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara, 2000)

Dying is a responsibility like any other. Plan ahead.

8. Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)

"Maybe their best isn't good enough." 

Not proving yourself at a certain level justifies elimination.

9. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)

Your enemies will change sides, as long as you give them a chance to spy on you.

10. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

The power of words for the inception of ideas into one's mind - or the lack thereof to prevent the spread of ideas. Changes history.


I'm sure you have your own list of movies that changed you. Care to share them?


  1. Dear Mohsen:
    I would like really appreciate your hard and constant effort in providing such nice and informative format.It has been almost stimulating for me to compensate my huge deficit in the field of Cinema so far and learn how we can write an intelligent comment about some masterpiece not beyond of 100 words but perfect.
    Happy Birthday Moblog and good luck!
    About your list,I try to see 12 angry man and then : Live of others (PlZ don't blame me ) this week!and the quote of Starwars is one of my top ten quotes of all time

    This is my list :
    A beautiful perspective of real love from 2 point of view of lovers,

    2.The Godfather
    I was learned how can I love a criminal

    A sad destiny of a truly loser…

    4.Grizzly man
    I became fan of documentary genre by such masterpiece

    5.English Patient
    Another definition of unconditional love

    6. Hamoon (Daruish Mehrjoyee)
    I lived with this movie for a while

    7.Ghaisar(Massuod Kimyaee)
    A beautiful description of justice by revenge
    (i had hard time to choose between this and Kill Bill)
    9.Eye’s wide shot
    It revolutionized my thought about loyalty and commitment in the life

    10.The deer Hunter
    Every moment of film I accompanied the characters…all of them

  2. A missed number !
    8.The Terminator(2)
    The first time I found some feeling inside, to a machine

  3. Dear Maryam,

    Thank you for the input. Actually, among Mehrjui films, "Pari" was the one that affected me the most. Although the "kooozeh-besarhaa" theory mentioned in the movie involved me significantly at the time I first saw it, after a while I lost my belief in it. It just didn't work for me anymore.

  4. Shahram said ...

    Dear Mohsen

    At first I did not intend to write a list of my favorite movies. The reason was that I believe compared to you and probably many other readers of your blog, I have watched too few movies in my lifetime to choose among them, and therefore, probably many worthy movies will not have a chance to appear in my list. In short, since I do not see myself anywhere near being a film critic, I did not feel a sense of self-confidence to publish my judgment even about the movies I have watched!

    But finally I decided that, anyway, even as an absolute amateur, it is not a bad thing to announce the movies I have really enjoyed watching them; the movies that have deeply impressed me.

    So, this is the list of 10 movies I like the best (arranged alphabetically):

    1. Braveheart (Mel Gibson, 1995)

    2. Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000)

    3. Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 2005)

    4. Life is beautiful (Roberto Benigni, 1997)

    5. Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005)

    6. Terminator: Episode2- Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)

    7. The Godfather: Episode I (Francis Ford Cappola, 1972)

    8. The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwwood, 1995)

    9. The Matrix: Episode I (Andy and Lana Wachowsky, 1999)

    10. Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)


  5. (Then) Shahram said ...

    Mohsen Jan

    On second thought, I remembered a few other movies which I Can not help naming them. Perhaps any of these could be nominated instead of some of my top ten (except godfather, which is not substitutable!) and they lost the race only by a narrow distance. these are:

    - Scarface
    - Aliens 2
    - Back to the Future 1
    - House of Sand and Fog

    I just wanted to be as fair as possible!


  6. Dear Shahram,

    Thank you for the kinds words. I don't have any education in film criticism either ... but that doesn't stop me from writing my opinions about movies! ;-)

    The list you wrote makes me think these are probably the best movies you've ever seen. But my list was about the movies that have "changed" me. Have you seen any movie that has had such an effect on you?

    If I were to list my top 10 favorite films of all time, it would be:

    1. Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977)

    2. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

    3. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

    4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron, 1991)

    5. Braveheart (Mel Gibson, 1995)

    6. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)

    7. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

    8. Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

    9. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

    10. Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996)

    It was interesting to see among all six "Star Wars" episodes, you chose Episode III, the most tragic.

    And can you believe I haven't seen "Bridges of Madison County" yet, even though I have it at home?!!!


  7. Farzaneh said ...

    Dear Mohsen,

    Congratulations on your great job! I wish you and your blog the best luck and the famous prayer "omrat deraaz baad"! Happy Birthday to the blog.

    And I'd like to share my list here. After the name of movie, I've explained the main concept which impressed me:

    1. Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
    This famous quote:
    Scarlett: I can't think about that right now. I'll think about that tomorrow.

    2. Desirée (Henry Koster, 1954)
    The meaning of destiny.

    3. Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995)
    How patience can be led to a good result!

    4. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
    Loving a villain! (as Maryam mentioned)

    5. The Thorn Birds (TV mini-series 1983)
    Disturbing role of blind religious prejudice on life and love.

    6. Honarpisheh (Makhmalbaf, 1993)
    The real meaning of poverty and richness and the extremely thin line between them.

    7. Ajans-E Shisheh-I (Hatamikia, 1999)
    A new point of view about the Iran-Iraq war and its warriors which impressed me a lot.

    8. The Eighth Day (Jaco Van Dormael – 1996)
    I loved Georges and his own beliefs and feelings. I thought how much our today world needs him and people like him.

    9. Star Wars (all episodes in which we have Master Yoda's quotes)
    The most impressive quotes and the most religious lessons I could have ever heard in a movie. I became one of his lovers!

    10. Star Wars & District 9 & WALL·E
    Before watching them I had never any sympathy with robots. Now I'm able to see the human-like face of a robot and can have feeling and tears for him/her!

  8. WOW..."The Live of others",not only has potential for changing people but also ,makes us worship and bowing down to power of Cinema again and again and again..with such incredible pieace of Art this feeling never stops..I can't believe such beautiful portrait of "Big brother" might exist!

  9. Exactly. I was amazed how seamlessly the most evil villain imaginable in the beginning, became the most beautiful hero imaginable by the end - and the gradual transition is so believable. Performing such a task is incredibly difficult in such a short story time.