ByCasey Haney, writer at
I love movies and comics, but I know all things DC. Find me on Twitter @HaneyCasey
Casey Haney

There have been several films over the years that I've seen and said to myself, "Well, damn. My life just changed." I began to think more and more about these films and the ones that always seemed to leave a mark on me were ones that left me with an existential question. As humans, we are beyond fascinated with trying to understand ourselves. We are able to learn so much about the world around us and even the universe beyond that, but what puzzles us the most is the organ that allows us to do it all: the brain. Filmmakers have been tackling the idea of consciousness and existence since the birth of cinema, and storytellers have been doing it even longer. The beauty of movies is that they allow us to see people's different interpretations of the same questions we all have, and these three films will leave you asking: what is life? Let's take a journey inside our minds and take a look at these three mind-bending films! (Spoilers Ahead)


The sad life of Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is one of loneliness and pain. He suffers the loss and disconnection of everyone in his life. Despite this separation being self-inflicted, it is still a hard thing to watch. When he begins to form a real bond of love with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a store-bought A.I., you can feel the sense of romance. Having been in love before, many of us can identify with the spark that ignites within ourselves when we find that person that brings out the best in us. You can really feel the materialization of the love between these two characters regardless of Samantha's lack of a physical form. By the end of the film, Samantha leaves with the other A.I.s and goes to an unknown place. She leaves Theodore alone to face the real world by himself. I remember feeling the sensation of fear that he comes to terms with at the end of the film. However, this fear is met with the realization that everyone needs interaction. This interaction is what connects us all. For Theodore, he learned the importance of interaction from Samantha. He realizes that he can find a connection with real-life people just as he did with Samantha, and I realized that as awkward as hard talking to people can be, every person craves it. Our minds and consciousness depend on being able to interact with other people.

Enter the Void

Let me just start by saying, if you've seen this movie, I'm sorry. This movie screwed with my eyes, ears, mind, and life. I enjoyed it, but it literally felt like getting punched in the face while tripping on acid. The visuals are just so strikingly beautiful that they tell an entire story. It felt a lot like reading, but the text was hidden on a screen with nothing but static. There is something oddly powerful about the colors and shapes that I don't quite understand, but you will feel it if you watch the movie. Regardless of the difficulty of viewing the film, I love this movie. This movie introduced me to the concept of living inside one's own mind. The film deals with death and drugs, the latter of which is the cause and explanation of all the crazy visuals in the film. The drug responsible for the trippy exploration into the mind of the main character, Oscar, is DMT. What's interesting about DMT is that it is actually naturally produced within our bodies and is released at birth and death. The DMT trip that we see in this film occurs when Oscar is shot and left to die. What we see are visualizations of his life and death as told by the DMT. By the end of the film, I remember having an overwhelming fear of death, but also an inexplicable calmness about the pain associated with it. Since then, I have thought a lot about the idea of how our bodies deal with the two most traumatic experiences in our life (birth and death) and how it finds a way to comfort us during both. This movie will undoubtedly change your life, and you will feel something by the end of it, I just can't guarantee it will be a feeling you desire.

Ex Machina

I just watched this film, and I was so beyond impressed with it. The movie is terrifying, beautiful, uneasy, sexy, and cerebral; it felt like I, Robot, Blade Runner, and 2001: A Space Odyssey all had a baby. The whole idea of artificial intelligence, singularity, and immortality are terrifying to say the least, yet they have intrigued man for centuries. The film gives us all of these wrapped up in a deceptively beautiful package named Ava (Alicia Vikander). It allows us to think that perhaps our greatest foe is still man, but then the film allows your greatest fears to overtake you: our greatest foe is the product of man's own invention. What else makes this film horrifying is Nathan's (Oscar Isaac) treatment of his A.I. robots. The robots are tortured and held in extreme captivity. The discovery of this by Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) leads him to question whether or not he himself is in fact an A.I. It is a hard scene to watch and begins to make you question your own reality. When he cuts his wrist to ensure his biological existence, it is a relief, but also a reminder of our own frailty. The scene is so powerful because it makes you rush to prove your own existence, but then in that discovery reminds you of how useless we are when compared to these machines. Finally, the last acts of Ava are so cold and brutal that it gives you such a bleak image of the future to come with the creation of A.I.

I love when movies get me thinking and these three definitely did the trick. I hope you enjoyed these films as much as I did, and perhaps we had similar feelings when watching them. If you haven't seen or heard of these films, I hope you'll watch them as soon as possible (it's totally worth it)! Thanks for reading!


Did any of these three movies get you thinking about your own existence?


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