17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey

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The world of cinema is not just an entertainment arena but also a potent tool for influencing society and shaping perspectives. It is a mirror that reflects humanity, society, and culture through various lenses. There are certain movies that, through their storytelling, have left an indelible impact on the world, inciting change and inspiring generations.

“A Trip to the Moon” (1902)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
A Trip to the Moon (1902)

As one of the earliest sci-fi films, it pioneered the genre and introduced groundbreaking special effects. The story follows astronomers who journey to the moon via a cannon-propelled capsule, encounter moon inhabitants and return to Earth.

The iconic image of the Man on the moon with a capsule in its eye symbolizes early film history.

“Citizen Kane” (1941)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Archive Photos

The film portrays the complex story of a newspaper tycoon inspired by real-life media baron William Randolph Hearst. Its innovative use of deep focus, low-angle shots, and narrative structure revolutionized cinematic storytelling.

“The Leopard” (1963)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon in The Leopard (1963)

Told through the eyes of an Italian prince, this classic film tells the story of a changing society in 19th-century Sicily. Its emotionally intense use of light and movement creates a stunning atmosphere that captures its themes of cultural revolution.

“Metropolis” (1927)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
© Archives du 7e Art/UFA – Image courtesy photo12.com

Set in a futuristic urban dystopia, this film delves into the divide between the working class and the city’s rulers. Its groundbreaking visual effects, such as the iconic scene featuring the robot Maria, profoundly impacted future sci-fi movies.

“The Birth of a Nation” (1915)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey

Lillian Gish and William Freeman in The Birth of a Nation (1915)

This film, controversial for its portrayal of African Americans and the KKK, revolutionized cinema with its groundbreaking techniques in storytelling and technical aspects like close-ups and fade-outs.

“An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

This documentary showcases Al Gore’s global campaign to raise awareness about climate change. It is widely credited for bringing the issue of climate change to the mainstream with its powerful visual depictions of the evidence and consequences of global warming.

“Olympia” (1938)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Velma Dunn in Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938)

This German documentary chronicles the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, providing an iconic visual representation of Nazi ideology.

“Philadelphia” (1993)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Clinica Estetico – © 1993

This Oscar-winning drama follows the experiences of a lawyer who is fired because of his HIV status. With strong performances from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, it’s one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge the AIDS crisis.

“Apocalypse Now” (1979)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by UA – © 1979 UA

Set during the Vietnam War, this Francis Ford Coppola classic is renowned for its groundbreaking cinematography and powerful performances. It’s a meditation on war, with themes of morality and humanity.

“The Bicycle Thief” (1948)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola in Bicycle Thieves (1948)

This Italian neorealist drama tells the story of Antonio Ricci, a man desperate to find his stolen bicycle. It’s considered one of the most influential films and a crucial example of Italian neorealism.

“Blade Runner” (1982)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Sunset Boulevard

Directed by Ridley Scott, the film depicts a dystopian future where bioengineered beings called replicants are created for off-world colonies. It explores themes of humanity, identity, and the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, all within a visually stunning neo-noir aesthetic.

“The Last Emperor” (1987)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Richard Vuu in The Last Emperor (1987)

This epic drama tells the story of Puyi, the last emperor of China. The film follows Puyi’s life from his youth to his death and paints a vivid picture of life in the Forbidden City during the twilight years of imperial rule.

“Avatar” (2009)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Courtesy of WETA

“Avatar” is an immersive film that showcases an alien world with an ecological message. It seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI, impacting popular culture and the film industry’s technology.

With a worldwide box office gross of over $2.8 billion, “Avatar” became the highest-grossing film of its time.

“The Social Network” (2010)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Merrick Morton – © 2010 Columbia TriStar

This critically acclaimed film tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. The narrative is framed by a legal dispute between Zuckerberg and two former Harvard classmates, painting a nuanced portrait of ambition, power dynamics, and social media’s global influence.

“Spotlight” (2015)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by KERRY HAYES

This film follows investigative journalists examining Catholic Church abuse in Boston. It delves into the moral dilemmas of uncovering truth, which can bring devastating consequences.

“Spotlight” showcases long-form investigative journalism, highlighting the importance of holding those in power accountable.

“Jurassic Park” (1993)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Photo by Universal Pictures

This blockbuster classic centers around a theme park populated by dinosaurs created by advanced cloning technology. It is an exciting, thrilling adventure that captures the power of scientific discovery while reminding us of its consequences.

“The Seventh Seal” (1957)

17 Films That Changed the World: A Cinematic Journey
Bengt Ekerot in The Seventh Seal (1957)

This classic Ingmar Bergman film explores life, death, and faith. Through a dialogue between a disillusioned knight and the personification of death, we are journeying to discover the meaning of life in a mysterious medieval world.

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