Movies depicting true events such as the 9/11 attacks, the World Wars, and the Holocaust might have you thinking that the world is headed to hell in a handbasket. Perhaps the incidences have hit closer home, and nothing can convince you that a shred of humanity is left in the world.
A trip to a professional such as a therapist will lead you to options such as asking you to volunteer more, be more trusting, spend time with children, and actively seek out good news, among others. While these options might work, these ten true-story movies will also help restore your faith in humanity.
Spoiler Alert Warning!
10 Just Mercy
We’re greater than our worst mistakes. We all need mercy. The movie Just Mercy features heavy-weight actor Michael B. Jordan as lawyer Bryan Stevenson and academy-winning Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian. And this film is nothing short of tear-jerking. After completing his studies, Stevenson dedicates his life to helping people of color from harsh treatment and unfair punishment. At the heart of such false accusations is Walter Macmillan, a black man framed for the murder of Ronda Morrison.
When Stevenson takes up Walter’s case, his biggest task is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that his client did not commit the murder he was accused of. However, this wasn’t any other average case. It was one of a black lawyer defending a black defendant charged with murder in a state and time where people of color didn’t have many privileges. Yes, fair trials were considered privileges for people of color.
Given that he had just completed his studies and didn’t have much ground to stand on, Stevenson goes on a hunt for people who have been harshly treated in the past. He also looks for people who can prove that the witnesses who testify against his clients were lying. However, his most significant break comes when Ralph, who wants to make amends, contacts him, saying that law enforcers threatened him to lie. Other healthcare workers and inmates confirm Ralph’s testimony. The recordings of the police officers threatening Ralph further prove Walter’s innocence.
After what seemed like an eternity, Walter was acquitted. It was a big deal for the accused, Stevenson, and the community. An accurate depiction of humanity at its best.
9 The Pursuit of Happyness
“You got a dream; you have to protect it.” Anyone who has watched The Pursuit of Happyness, which stars the incredible Will Smith (Chris Gardner), understands this phrase well. After being evicted from their house, Chris and his son have nowhere to stay. They must now survive on other people’s grace, which, to be honest, very little is forthcoming. The going gets more challenging when Chris realizes that an internship job he had found at a prestigious brokerage firm had no pay, yet he urgently needed money. From living in shelters to watching his son suffer and enduring many hardships, Chris was determined to “change the narrative.”
The story of Chris’s mother and sister is not happy either. They had to endure the wrath of an abusive stepfather. Even though his mother was educated, making it in a male-dominated, impoverished, and discriminatory community didn’t help her quest for success. Aside from relationships, work, and education, Chris’s story is about motivation, self-belief, and, more importantly, the depiction that other people do not have to go through tough times just because we did.
As the movie continues, Chris finally makes it as and opens his own brokerage firm. However, the moral of the story lies in how Chris overturned his situation and became “a better person.” He vowed never to mistreat women and took great care of his child. If that doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, the next movie in line will.
8 Forrest Gump
“Stupid is as stupid does.” Remember this quote from the movie Forrest Gump? As Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks gives an Oscar-winning performance that shows the life of a man with a few mental delays who achieves everything. From teaching Elvis Presley how to dance to becoming a football star and meeting John F. Kennedy, Forrest Gump has seen it all.
However, the movie’s more captivating because he never forgot his childhood sweetheart, Jenny. She was there when the times were tough, and Gump ensured she was there during the sunny days too. Gump’s story indicates that humanity still exists and some good people are left in the world.
Almost everyone has heard the story of the great ship Titanic that sunk off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. Of the 2,240 people on board, about 1,500 lost their lives on that fateful day. Different opinions have been raised, and people have taken different stands on the occurrences of that day.
However, today, we focus on one character, Jack, who the legendary Leonardo DiCaprio plays. He single-handedly showed the world that humanity still exists when he chose to sink rather than board the same floating wreckage as Rose (Kate Winslet). Based on the previous events of that day, Jack could have easily decided to board the seemingly floating wreckage with Rose—if they die, they die. Instead, he let Rose board as his body lay mostly in the water. Due to Jack’s selflessness, Rose survived the ordeal and lived to tell the tale.
While Jack and Rose were fictional characters in the film version of the sinking of the Titanic, some of the characters were based on actual people. One of the most notable was Margaret Brown (portrayed by Kathy Bates). This American socialite and philanthropist kept those on her lifeboat motivated and busy until they were rescued. Nicknamed the Unsinkable Molly Brown, she later became the first woman to run for the U.S. Congress in 1914 and organized the Colorado chapter of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Regardless of real or fictional characters, watching this movie still gets many people emotional, and deservingly so.
6 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood features the transformative spiritual practices of Fred Rogers, who has inspired many. One of his most significant and notable achievements is when he challenged Lloyd Vogel, a cynical investigative journalist tasked with profiling him. From the start, the journalist approaches Mr. Rogers with a lot of skepticism. He does not believe a human being can be as virtuous as Mr. Rogers had portrayed himself.
However, as the interview continues, Vogel’s jaded outlook on life is taken away by Mr. Rogers without much effort. If anything, he only did so through empathy, decency, and kindness. Eventually, Vogel brings himself to reconcile with his past.
5 22 July
22 July might be a controversial one, but hear me out. It’s true; at the back of a terrorist attack, finding shreds of acts of humanity can be challenging. However, the film 22 July, based on a true story in 2011, how a teenage girl fights for survival and tries to locate her younger sister is very encouraging.
For those who haven’t watched the movie, here is a quick overview: On July 22, 2011, Norway was hit by two terrorist attacks, one at a summer camp in Utoya, a small island in the country. A heavily-armed 32-year-old man dressed as a police officer appeared in the summer camp and started killing people indiscriminately. The terrorist injured hundreds and killed sixty-nine kids.
However, aside from all the negativity and the effects of the massacre, the story of an 18-year-old, Kaja, stood out for her acts of bravery and depiction of love in one of the harshest environments.
4 Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club is a movie that follows the life of Ron Woodroof (played by Mathew McConaughey), a gay and HIV-positive man from Texas. The revelation that he had contracted the disease at a time when there was a lot of stigma and no major scientific breakthroughs, Ron was stunned for some time. He was given 30 days to live, a number he was dedicated to surpassing.
First, he inquired why some drugs that promised to help people living with AIDS weren’t approved yet. Frustrated by the slow efforts, Ron takes it to himself to go to the neighboring country and smuggle the drugs to help other patients. Outside his gay community, Ron found a confidant in Rayon (played by Jared Leto), a fellow AIDS patient. Together, they sell the smuggled drugs to the ever-growing number of people living with the disease. Ron’s story is a true depiction of humanity at its best.
3 Thirteen Lives
This film tells the story of 12 kids with their soccer coach trapped in a cave following heavy rains. The incident happened in Thailand in 2018 after a group of soccer lovers left for the caves for meditation and further coaching. While going about their business, it started raining heavily. Before they knew it, water had filled the now impenetrable cave. It wasn’t long before the kids’ parents began wondering where their loved ones were. True to their fears, they figured the unimaginable had happened.
Thai families, farmers, the government, and international volunteers were all in solidarity. The common goal was to look for ways to rescue the boys regardless of whatever it took and what their realistic chances were. For about two weeks, the Tham Luang Nang Non-Cave system in Chiang Rai Province became the center of the world’s attention.
Fortunately, after intense deliberations and efforts, all the boys and their coach were rescued from the cave. It was miraculous! The kids stayed for over 11 days in the cave without food but still came out alive. That is not an easy phenomenon even for a grown adult to achieve. More importantly, the unity and willingness to help that people showed during this tragedy show that there is still some shred of humanity left in this world.
2 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Malawi’s people were starving and perishing in poverty, so they needed a savior. They found one. Just not from the source anyone could have predicted. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a movie based on a true story that will leave anyone believing that humanity still exists. Played by Maxwell Simba, William Kamkwamba was born in Mastilla Village, outside of Kasungu, Malawi, at a time when death didn’t scare the living.
When he was 13, Kamkwamba was forced out of high school due to a lack of school fees. However, the sight of his people suffering to the extent of turning against each other didn’t amuse Kamkwamba. He took it upon himself to “harness the wind” and bring water to his people.
Of course, his idea sounded crazy initially, and his immediate opponent was his father. Kamkwamba’s bravery, determination, and belief saved the village from perishing. An indication that if we commit to greater things, we can help ourselves and those around us, regardless of the challenges.
1 Hotel Rwanda
Have you watched Hotel Rwanda yet? If not, you should. In 1994, Rwanda witnessed what was probably the continent’s biggest genocide. While many atrocities took place, we can look back and thank some people who stood their ground and did what was right despite everything going on.
Hotel Rwanda is a movie based on the true occurrences of the Rwanda genocide that pitted two tribes against each other: Tutsis and Hutus. Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle), a Hutu married to a Tutsi wife (Sophie Okonedo), finds himself in the heart of the violence. He manages the Hotel Des Mille Collines, which became a target because it hosted Tutsi refugees subject to the attacks. His efforts to protect humanity are tear-jerking. Of course, other people tried to help, too, but Paul’s story stands out.