EXPLORING MENTAL HEALTH WITH CINEMA
Updated: Sep 14
Movie – watching can act as a therapeutic tool for people. In fact, there is a well known practice similar to it, known as “Cinema therapy”. It allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc in films, on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release and natural change. Cinema has gifted us with beautiful and intriguing movies on mental health. Let us look at some of them:
1. A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001)
“A Beautiful mind” is a biographical film that depicts the story of John Nash, an American Noble Prize winner in the field of Mathematics and economics. Being an intelligent, hardworking and a curious student, he commences his graduation from The Princeton University, where he makes not many friends, but one, called Charles, his roommate. The movie unravels how John Nash’s innovative work on game theory in mathematics is overshadowed by decades of mental illness. With time, the mysteries of Nash’s mind are brought under spotlight. Charles, his niece and the secret coding project assigned to him by William Parcher his supervisor, to work for the Soviet Union are not real but Nash’s hallucinations and delusions, symptoms of Schizophrenia.
The movie is a masterpiece when it comes to connecting people who suffer from the same disorder, since it has very clearly portrayed the physical, mental and emotional turbulence that a patient with Schizophrenia has to go through. As quoted from the movie, “You see the nightmare of Schizophrenia is, not knowing what’s true. Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places and the moments, most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been.”
2. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES (2020)
Adapted from the bestselling young adult novel by Jennifer Niven of the same title, All the Bright Places follows the story of two emotionally scarred teenagers as they find love and strength from each other. The story begins with Violet Markey contemplating jumping off a bridge when Theodore Finch runs into her and withdraws her. Their lives change when their geography teacher assigns them a travelogue project that has the students wandering all over Indiana to chronicle wondrous sights off the beaten path.
The film highlights the sociable-turned-quiet Violet suffering from survivor’s remorse and trauma due to her sister’s death and Finch suffering from Depression and an undiagnosed Bipolar disorder of life. The movie is tender yet a powerful depiction of teenage trauma, grief, suicide and other mental wounds.
The film is an elegant mixture of pain, emotional struggle, hope, love, contentment and joy that a human heart can feel. As quoted in the movie “There is beauty in the most unexpected places and there are bright places even in the dark times”, the movie has starkly expressed the life of 21st century teens and their battles with mental health issues.
3. SIMRAN (2017)
“Simran” is an Indian heist film, starred by Kangana Ranaut as Praful Patel, who is a 30 year old, divorcee. She lives with her Gujarati parents in Georgia and works at a housekeeping department in a five star hotel while she is saving to buy a house. The movie flows smoothly until Praful finds herself running away from her familial pressure to consider remarriage, to Las Vegas for her cousin’s bachelorette party where she engages in Baccarat, a gambling game. In no time, Praful loses lots of her bets in it and invites catastrophes in her life.
The film puts forward two mental disorders, Kleptomania (An inability to control the urge of stealing) and Gambling disorder. The movie is loosely inspired from Sandeep Kaur, the “Bombshell Bandit”, an NRI in US who has committed 4 bank robberies. The movie is entertaining and funny. Kleptomaniac symptoms aren’t clearly shown in the movie but symptoms of Gambling disorder are visible, where Patel is at the verge of losing her job and close relationships.
By Ms. Vidhi Chanpura
She is a nature enthusiast pursuing her second year in Psychology Majors. She is fascinated by the mysteries and magics of the mind and is keen to connect with people about it through her write ups.
Bauer, P. (2017). A Beautiful Mind. Referred from https://www.britannica.com/topic/A-Beautiful-Mind
Howard, C. (2020). ‘All the Bright Places’: Film Review. Referred from
Kaushal, S. (2017). Simran movie review. Referred from https://www.hindustantimes.com/movie-reviews/simran-movie-review-kangana-ranaut-adds-life-to-hansal-mehta-s-film/story-4qTpViPAAlTIdDysuCS0rK.html
Masand, R. (2017). Simran Movie Review. Referred from https://www.news18.com/news/movies/simran-movie-review-has-a-compelling-story-at-its-core-1519223.html
Nawara, R. (2020). ‘All the Bright Places’: Flawed but empathetic look at mental illness. Referred from https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/03/12/all-the-bright-places-flawed-but-empathetic-look-at-mental-illness.html
Singer, J. (2018). How watching movies can benefit our mental health. Referred from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-watching-movies-can-benefit-our-mental-health/