Three Movies that Define Inspiration

The definition of inspiration is the stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. Guest writer for Olan Ahern, kept this firmly in his mind when choosing a trio of movies which he found to be truly moving. 

1. The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabant) – 1995
An easy choice at number one is The Shawshank Redemption, adapted from the novel by Steven King; this heart-wrenching tale tells the story of wrongly convicted inmate Andy Dufrey’s (Tim Robbins) fights against all the odds to freedom. The film is based on a friendship between Andy and Red (Morgan Freeman). Red and Andy go together like a ball and chain. Red, the voice of reason, acts as a fortune teller predetermining every inmate’s fate, except of course for Andy’s, who he can’t seem to figure out. Andy on the other hand is a dreamer, whose transformation from loner to inspirational leader on his journey of self-fulfilment is nothing short of extraordinary. Red starts off pessimistic and sceptical of Andy, but as each scene passes Red begins to believe more and more in Andy and in turn in himself. Andy challenges the morals and constraints of the prison bringing hope to everybody around him and, most of all, to Red.

2. Hotel Rwanda (Terry George) – 2004

Written and directed by Terry George, Hotel Rwanda tells the story of genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The act of genocide is carried out by the Hutu tribe upon the Tutsis. Hutu Paul Rususabagina (Don Cheadie) plays the role of peacemaker in the form of local hotelier in the heart of Rwanda. He acts as inn keeper at the besieged Hôtel des Mille Collines, hiding Tutsis while entertaining the Hutu extremist. He is juggling the safety of his wife a Tutsi, family and friends while playing party host to the Hutus who want to kill them in the next room.

UN’s peacekeeping force, led by Canadian Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), is the only help the Tutsis have. However, they are unable to intervene with the genocide, and after several lame attempts, Nolte finally has enough and leads them to safety. Saving more than 1200 Tutsis, Paul should not only be recognised as an inspirational leader but also a miracle worker. The bravery and heart Paul shows to stand up against tyranny and oppression when the rest of the world’s leader’s watch from afar is simply phenomenal.

3. Schindler’s List (Stephen Spielberg) – 1993

During the peak of anti-Semitism in World War II we see the rise of Oscar Schindler (Liam Neeson) from a member of the Nazi party to Jewish saviour. At the start of the movie Schindler takes advantage of SS officer’s stupidity by massaging their egos and tempting them with bribes to acquire sponsorship of a factory to produce army mess kits. He uses the desperation of the Jewish community to work and run the factory at a cheap cost. Not knowing much how to run a company he collaborates with Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) a powerful man in the Jewish community. He enjoys the good life with newfound riches.

SS Lieutenant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) arrives in Kraków to oversee the construction of the Plaszów concentration camp. Once the camp is completed, he orders the liquidation of the ghettoes. Goeth in a way acts as the protagonist for Schindler’s transformation of war puppeteer to Jewish saviour. Goeth’s melancholy approach to butchering every Jew that comes in his line of sight showcases the bravery of Schindler. He puts his wits against a man who bears hatred so deep it would make the devil proud to call him a friend.

Accompanied by accountant Itzhak Stern he starts out on his mission to save the Jews. In total he manages to save 1,200 Jews creating false documentation and buying their freedom, while fighting back against the Nazis, by opening an ammunition factory that produces fake shells for the Nazi army.

However, the question remains is he really an inspirational character or a man with a guilty conscience? Yes, he does do a lot to help the Jews but he also has the Jews to thank for the lavish lifestyle he lives. In the final scene this is put to rest as he breaks into tears as he feels he hasn’t done enough and sells all his possessions to save as many Jews as he possibly can. His position as inspirational leader to the Jews in Krakow is cemented when he’s given a watch and a sentimental letter as a mark of appreciation for all he has done.

Words by film critic Olan Ahern, who works on behalf of Pearson PTE Academic, specialists in English Language exams.