One of the most difficult philosophical questions one may ask is what does Stoicism have to do with the film? Stoicism was a great teacher but not a very good mentor as far as filmmaking is concerned.

In fact, it may have been a bit too rigid to have influenced the masters of today.

But there are a few elements of Stoicism that one can apply to film no matter how many theories of Stoicism one may adopt.



What Is Stoicism?

The word Stoicism is derived from the Greek word “stoa,” which translates to mean porch.

It was originally a philosophy that was created by Zeno of Citium in Athens, Greece over 2,300 years ago.

The philosophy had its roots in Socrates and his belief that virtue can be achieved through knowledge.

Stoics taught that there are two paths for all humans: Virtue or Vice.

They believed strongly in self-control and fortitude as well as living a simple life with few possessions. They also urged people to focus on things like inner peace rather than material wealth or power over others.



Stoicism and Filmmaking – The Philosophy of Stoicism in Modern Films

Stoicism and Filmmaking

The most important element of Stoicism is Stoicism itself. This is an idealistic philosophy that suggests that people should view things in a rational, analytical manner rather than emotions.

It also advocates the use of logic and the pursuit of a goal through the use of rational skills.

One can find examples of Stoicism in the works of the likes of Seneca (a Roman stoic philosopher and writer) and Marcus Aurelius (the Roman military leader and Stoic physician).

Both of these men used Stoicism as a way of life and wrote extensively about it.

Another way in which Stoicism can be used in the field of film is in the genre of epic. The majority of current epics, including the Iliad and the Odyssey, are written as works of poetry rather than of a literary form.

However, it is also possible to approach Stoicism in the epic context and treat it as a set of principles to be applied to the human experience rather than a set of philosophies that must be adhered to for the aesthetic value of the work.


There are two key aspects to this approach.

The first is that one should view a Stoic quote as a set of general ideas that are meant to be contemplated by one interested in becoming a better person.

Rather than trying to translate Stoicism into film, one should use it as a point of interest in the scene and interpret its philosophical underpinnings.

This way, one can see Stoicism’s positive effects in the characters’ actions and in the film itself.

A second approach to using Stoicism in film is to apply it to the characters’ environment. In the case of the Iliad, one might interpret the elements of the work as symbolic interpretations of the characters’ emotions.

The theme of shipbuilding in the Iliad, for example, is taken to represent the conflict between freedom and servitude.

Stoicism In Cinema

In other cases, the philosophical philosophy could represent the struggle of human beings to achieve happiness and freedom.

Perhaps the best representation of Stoicism in the film is in the early silent films. In the era of Hollywood blockbusters, it was common for an actor to be told not to over-act or to add any emotions to his or her dialogue (as they would be deemed too ‘enthusiastic’).

This led to a rejection of excess emotion by many actors, which was especially noticeable in the leading man role.

But as time progressed and more movies were produced with the advent of sound, the concept of excess became less important.

Today, most leading men in Hollywood, if they have any emotion at all, are expected to use it sparingly.

Even dialogue is often directed towards the camera (exaggerating the effect rather than delivering any particular message).

There are many modern manifestations of Stoicism in film, literature, and music. In the film, the quintessential stoic character is Achilles, from the Greek play, Achilles.

Achilles is a slave to his own emotions and is willing to accept his lot in life even if it means sacrificing others.

However, he also shows great strength in facing adversity and continues to display these qualities in his marriage with Helen.

As you can see, Stoicism has found many fuses throughout the history of cinema. Some of its most famous representations may not even be about Stoicism.


For instance, in the animated film Finding Nemo, Dory the Clownfish is shown to have a strong degree of Stoicism driven by her religious beliefs.

And in the novel, A Tree With Many Leaves, the main character, Juniper’s, belief in virtue is expressed most eloquently by his choice of a simple life as a renter rather than an exotically rich merchant.

Regardless of the genre, Stoicism is present in many aspects of modern film.

Stoicism In Filmmaking

There are a number of movies that embody stoicism.

Some are more obvious than others, but they all share the same overarching theme-the idea of persevering and being able to carry on in spite of adversity. Here are five such films:

The philosophy of stoicism, which is a form of practical philosophy that teaches the individual to free themselves from emotional distress and attain contentment by living according to reason.

It’s been around for centuries and has had some great proponents such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, and more recently Tim Ferris.

How does it relate back to movies? Well, stoicism can be used in filmmaking with its use of minimalism where there are only a few elements on the screen at any given time.

This forces the viewer’s attention onto what is important in the scene like character motivation or plot points instead of distracting them with unnecessary details.

In recent years, there has been an increase in interest in movies that embody stoicism and teach viewers about its principles.

These movies often explore issues such as self-control, perseverance, bravery in the face of adversity, patience, and acceptance without judgment.

They are usually filled with meaningful dialogues between characters on these topics which can teach viewers valuable lessons about life while simultaneously entertaining them by exposing them to a good storyline set.

An Evolving Guide To Practical Stoicism For The 21st Century

Stoicism has been a popular philosophy among the world’s thinkers for centuries. But in today’s day and age, it can be hard to find practical stoic advice that is tailored to our modern lives.

That’s where this blog post comes in! It will provide you with tips and tricks for living your life as a stoic-minded individual.

Stoics believed you should focus on your own thoughts instead of outside events to live a life free from negative emotions such as anger or sadness.

Stoicism is a philosophy that teaches self-control and indifference to outside forces.

Stoics believe in being content with what one has because there’s nothing they can do about their fortune anyways.

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “People are not disturbed by things but rather the views they take of them.”

This means that if someone perceives something as bad, it will be truly difficult for them to handle it with tranquility.

The Stoics teach that the only thing you can control is your own thoughts, and therefore one should avoid negative emotions such as anger or fear by accepting what cannot be changed.

Today, this philosophy has been updated for modern times with an emphasis on mindfulness and self-compassion for lessening the effects of external factors like social pressure or criticism.

Films That Famously Used Stoicism

Here’s a list of films that famously used stoicism as a central part of the plot or philosophy of their narrative.

Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won seven including Best Picture and Best Director (David Lean).

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 American epic historical drama film about T.E. Lawrence’s experiences in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I, starring Peter O’Toole in the title role.

It was directed by David Lean and co-produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company Horizon Pictures, with Joseph E. Levine as executive producer.

The screenplay is based on Robert Bolt’s 1960 play of the same name (which was also released as a film that year).

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film about the life of T. E. Lawrence, who died in 1935.

It follows his journey from an officer in the British Army to a leader in the Arabian revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule during World War I.

The 1962 film Lawrence Of Arabia was directed by David Lean and stars Peter O’Toole.

It tells the story of British Army officer T.E. Lawrence’s struggles in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I, while also depicting his personal struggle with himself and those around him.

The film is a classic that has been honored with multiple awards including:

  • Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director,
  • Actor (Peter O’Toole), and
  • Cinematography (Freddie Young),
  • as well as Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture-Drama,
  • Actor-Motion Picture Drama (Peter O’Toole).
Lawrence Of Arabia
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn (Actors)
  • David Lean (Director) - Robert Bolt (Writer) - Sam Spiegel (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Equilibrium (2002)

If you’re looking for an intense, cerebral, and thought-provoking film that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, then Equilibrium is a must-watch.

Equilibrium is a 2002 science fiction film directed by Kurt Wimmer.

It stars Christian Bale as John Preston, an agent of the Bureau of Morality assigned to maintain order after society was destroyed by war over resources.

Equilibrium offers a warning against totalitarianism and explores the idea that those who control language control minds!

It depicts a future American society where citizens are under the constant surveillance of law enforcement, and where feelings like love or empathy have all but disappeared.

The plot focuses on an elite police force chasing Jack (played by Christian Bale) who has stolen their special drug that suppresses the capacity to feel emotions and memories.

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Dogville (2003)

In the year 2003, a movie called Dogville was released to theaters. This film is an American drama that is set in small-town America during the 1930s.

The main character of this story is Grace (played by Nicole Kidman), who moves into Dogville with her husband and daughter.

She has been running from the law for quite some time and she needs to lay low so she can’t be found by law enforcement officials.

As soon as they arrive, things start going wrong for them because of their criminal pasts which are revealed later in the movie.

The film was written and directed by Lars von Trier in 2003.

It stars Nicole Kidman as Grace, Paul Bettany as Tom-Tom, Lauren Bacall as Martha, James Caan as Harry Gatz, Danny Huston as Ben Quickertown, Chloe Sevigny as Betty Mae Sullivan-Thompson, and Stellan Skarsgård as John Miller.

She does this by making herself useful to various members of the community, and by eventually finding companionship with Tom Edison Jr., played by Danny Huston.

This man eventually joins in with the evil regime that controls the town and takes advantage of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

The movie exposes how power can corrupt even the most well-intentioned person and it’s always possible for someone who has been given too much power to lose sight of what’s important: love, peace, and justice.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Nicole Kidman, Harriet Andersson, Lauren Bacall (Actors)
  • Lars Von Trier (Director) - Lars Von Trier (Writer) - Vibeke Windel?v (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Shane (1953)

Shane is a 1953 American western film directed by George Stevens from a screenplay written by A. B. Guthrie Jr., based on the 1949 novel of the same name by Jack Schaefer.

The film tells the story of a skilled, laconic gunfighter who defends an isolated homesteading family from corrupt cattle barons trying to drive them out of business and take their land for themselves.

The picture stars Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, and Van Heflin in their Oscar-winning roles.

The story follows a young boy and his dog, who is befriended by the title character. It stars Alan Ladd as Shane and Jean Arthur as Marian Starrett.

The movie begins with an introduction to Joe Starrett (Alan Ladd) and his wife Marian (Jean Arthur). Joe is an independent cattleman with a modest ranch in the Wyoming Territory of 1878.

He has come home from town to find himself being terrorized by three outlaws led by Wilson Potter (Jack Palance) who want him to sell his herd at their price instead of waiting for higher market prices while they take over all the ranches in the territory.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin (Actors)
  • Stevens,George (Director) - Jack Schaefer (Writer) - George Stevens (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

The Motion Picture was a commercial and critical failure at release but has since been reappraised as one of the best films in the Star Trek franchise.

The original Star Trek TV series was canceled in 1969, and it took Paramount Pictures nearly ten years to finally produce a movie version of the popular TV show.

The movie stars William Shatner as James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy, George Takei as Hikaru Sulu, and James Doohan as Montgomery Scott.

In 1979, after three years of anticipation and a production budget of $10 million, the world was introduced to what is often considered the best Star Trek movie ever made.

The Motion Picture captivated audiences with its futuristic themes and special effects that were never seen before in an American film.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley (Actors)
  • Robert Wise (Director) - Gene Roddenberry (Writer) - Gene Roddenberry (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Horse Whisperer (1998)

The Horse Whisperer was an American drama film released in 1998, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Nicholas Evans.

It stars Robert Redford as a horse whisperer who is hired to help heal a traumatized young girl (played by Scarlett Johansson) and her wild mustang.

Based on a true story, this film tells the story of an autistic boy who is dealing with his anger and frustration by acting out aggressively at school.

His parents are desperate for help until they meet a horse whisperer who teaches them how to communicate with their son in such a way that he will not be able to resist.

The Horse Whisperer
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill (Actors)
  • Robert Redford (Director) - Eric Roth (Writer) - Robert Redford (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Battle Of Algiers (1966)

The Battle of Algiers is a movie that presents the Algerian fight for independence from France. It’s set in 1962, and under French rule, Algeria is a police state where Europeans live comfortable lives while Arabs are treated as second-class citizens.

The film centers on Ali La Pointe, an Arab terrorist who wants to end French colonialism by any means necessary – even if it means killing innocent civilians.

The Battle of Algiers is a film that depicts the Algerian War. The war was an event in which France attempted to keep its colony Algeria as part of its territory.

The Battle of Algiers is a film about the Algerian Independence War. In 1954, Algeria was still a French colony and on November 1st, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) or National Liberation Front organized an uprising against France in response to their unfair treatment of Algerians.

The Battle of Algiers: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]
  • Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef (Actors)
  • Gillo Potecorvo (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)