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If you were offered the chance to learn the truth…would you take it?

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MY ENGLISH TEACHER once told me that good short stories were the ones that spoke to universal truths.

These were the stories that go beyond mere characters and their antics through an imaginary universe. They offer an insight into the human condition: what is life? what is truth? what is reality?

The same could be said for memorable films. Only films convey their meaning in a more sensory way – using both audio and visual elements to enter the mind of the viewer.

And perhaps even shift your perspective.

The following 10 films are chosen because they shed light on the forces at work within our lives, this very moment. They use satire and metaphor to approach the truths that would otherwise be too difficult to understand, or too terrifying to comprehend.

Most of all, these films challenge you to wake up.

The Truman Show (1998)

Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, the first child ever legally adopted by a corporation. His entire life is constructed inside a gigantic set, encompassing the picturesque town of SeaHaven. Everything is artificial — from the buildings, to the people, to the very sun above his head.

It’s too easy to call the film a satirical extension of “reality television.” Instead, Peter Weir deftly uses the motif of reality TV to present the “un-realities” of our own world. How the majority of us are psychologically controlled, through fear and comfort to, as Cristof says, “accept the reality of the world that we’re given.”

Read more: The Meaning Of The Truman Show

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Imagine you were experiencing an existential crisis. But rather than work through it yourself, you hire existential detectives to help you track down the source of your suffering. Imagine one of those detectives is Dustin Hoffman with a bad haircut.

I Heart Huckabees is a quirky, rabbit hole of a film. Many of the characters, from the smarmy marketing executive (Jude Law), to the angry nihlistic firefighter (Mark Walberg) act out the various philosophies of the past thousand years.

Read more: Essay on I Heart Huckabees

Waking Life (2001)

What if you were chained in a dimly-lit cave your whole life where you saw only shadows of real things reflected on its back wall?

Suddenly you’re free and come into the sunlight. Would you recognize this new world as more real than your cave world? Would you be able to wake up?

Talk about a mind trip. Richard Linklater’s film Waking Life, is both visually beautiful and intellectually stimulating. The filmmakers use a ground-breaking technique (at the time) called ‘rotoscoping’ to colour over the images to create a dream-like animation.

Just a few of the ideas covered in unbroken dialogues: dreaming versus reality, existentialism, buddhism, situationism, post-modernism, the list goes on.

Read more: Essay on Waking Life

The Matrix (1999)

For obvious reasons, this was a paradigm-shifting film in the world of movies. But it also introduced a whole generation (myself included) to question the nature of reality. What is real? And how do you know it’s real?

The film’s other great contribution to mass society was the possibility that an unseen force is controlling our destiny. Morpheus reveals the ultimate truth that Neo’s mind can barely process: the Matrix is control. And the only way to break free? Open your mind.

Read more: Collection of essays on The Matrix

Dark City (1998)

Do you ever feel like you’re playing a role? Released 1 year before The Matrix, another film introduced the concept of a hidden beings controlling the destiny of humanity.

Dark City follows Rufus Sewell, a man framed for murder, as he’s pursued by faceless super beings that can manipulate time. Unfortunately for the beings, the protagonist is unwittingly gifted with their own powers of psychokinesis, and a challenge for domination ensues.

Read more: Dark City on Wikipedia

American Beauty (1999)

Horny suburban dad obsesses over his daughter’s friend, a vapid cheerleader. But there’s much more to this dark tale of the American dream gone awry.

Notable elements of this award-winning film include the dehumanizing effects of consumerism, the repressed sexuality of a gay military man, and the pot smoking defiance of Ricky Fitts, who sees the beauty of the entire universe in a single, swaying plastic bag.

Read more: American Beauty and the Idea Of Freedom

Fight Club (1999)

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.”

Tyler Durden’s words ring true in this dark, angry look at young people’s failures to interact with the value system they’re expected to uphold. Far from being a manifesto for violence, the film is rumination on the lengths we will go to experience real emotion, even if it means (metaphorically) bashing someone’s head in.

Read more Fight Club: A Ritual Cure For The Spiritual Ailment Of American Masculinity

Donnie Darko (2001)

Sometimes, to make something better, you’ve got to burn it all down and start over. Such is the relationship between Graham Greene’s The Destructors, and the cult classic Donnie Darko.

The film seamlessly weaves together notions of God, the non-linear nature of time, mind-control, and the freakiest bunny mask you’ve ever seen. It may take multiple viewings to discern a few messages from this multi-layered flick, but each time around will be just as rewarding.

Read more: Essay on Donnie Darko

Brazil (1985)

A dystopian, black comedy, Brazil reveals the terrifying indifference of bureaucracy in a totalitarian state. Although director Terry Gilliam claims never to have read 1984, the themes are too similar to dismiss.

Sam Lowry, a government cog in their machine, habitually escapes his dead-end job by imagining a fantasy world of romantic struggles.

Unfortunately, the system roots out dissidents with fervour. The villains in the film are neither malicious nor sadistic, they are merely doing their jobs.

Read more: Analysis of Brazil

Network (1976)

The news stopped being about enlightening the masses a long time ago.

Instead, news attempts to portray a world view that allows those in power to stay in power. This is never more true than 30 years after the film Network was released, when Howard Beale proclaimed “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

He called for viewers everywhere to stand up, and demand democratic control over their lives once again. The irony is even more biting when it’s revealed democracy, along with nations, peoples, and countries, no longer exists. The only thing left: the global system of finance.

Read more: The Rise of the Superclass

What do you think of the films in the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Pop Culture


About The Author

Ian MacKenzie

Ian MacKenzie is the founder and former editor of Brave New Traveler. He is Head of Video at Matador Network. Ian is also an independent filmmaker, with his first feature (One Week Job) released in 2010. His more recent projects include Sacred Economics and Occupy Love.

  • Adam MacKenzie

    What about, “What dreams may come?” With Robbin Williams. Thats a good one too.
    But really, you listed like almost all my favourite movies there. Your missing one key film in there.

    Lord of the Rings…”I’m not a conjurer of cheap tricks!”

    • Krista

      "What Dreams May Come" is one of my absolute favorite movies, I thought it'd be on here too!

  • Turner Wright

    Pretty good roundup; I still run that couch scene from American Beauty over in my head whenever I think I’m getting too attached to something.

  • Nick

    What about clockwork orange?

    • Ian MacKenzie

      Nick – I liked Clockwork Orange, but I personally didn’t find it effective enough to blow my mind. It was a bit too hyper-violent and art house abstract to offer me a significantly blown mind.

      Turner – Definitely. That scene is a classic in turning the usual consumerist perspective on its head. “It’s a just a couch!”

  • Joshua Berman

    Memento is a hell of a mind-bender, too. Disorients you for days after viewing it.

  • Ross

    How about Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind?


  • Ian MacKenzie

    Joshua – Yes, Memento is brilliant and definitely in the Top 20.

    Ross – Eternal Sunshine, one of my all time favourite films. Not so much mind-blowing as bittersweet. After all, t’is better to have loved and lost…

  • Brad

    What about “What The Bleep Do We Know?”

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Brad – I thought ‘What the Bleep’ started out fairly strong, but it wasn’t long before they devolved into that bizarre “dancing pheromones” or whatever animation that I felt totally insulted the intelligence of their audience. Plus, the style of the film was more talking-head documentary – rather than narrative film, which I kept to for this list.

  • Nomadic Matt

    I’m glad you included American Beauty. It ranks as my all time favorite movie. Gets me happy to be alive.

    What about The Usual Suspects? Crazy Ending.

    Or 21 Grams? That movie is quite out there.

  • George

    One that blew my mind when I first saw it – The Game with Michael Douglas.

  • Tim

    It may be obvious, but I’d have to add Blade Runner to the list. A dystopian movie that questions what is real and perceived, and questions the emotions of machines (which also brings into the question the human perception that animals, being considered emotionless, are harvestable beings). It’s the old humans as god thing.

  • Jeremy

    Thanks for adding Memento…it was my first thought… How about A Scanner Darkly… another role of Keaneu Reeves not knowing if he is the one… and a killer Robert Downey Jr…. with trippy visuals throughout!

  • Michaela Lola

    I’m a huge, huge, huge film fanatic so I loved this article!

    I would add..

    - Code 46
    - Children of Men
    - Chungking Express
    - Amores Perros (anything with Gael Garcia Bernal will wake me up..hehe)”Dot the i” was also pretty insane..
    - Open your Eyes OR Vanilla Sky …both amazing in their own right
    - Y Tu Mama Tambien
    - The Butterfly Effect (a lot of people don’t like it because it seems “cheesy” because of Ashton Kutcher, but the idea behind it is great, plus it’s an insanely wild ride)
    - Where the Buffalo Roam (one of my all time faves)
    - The Royal Tenenbaums
    - Rushmore
    - Old Boy (ok, this Korean film didn’t “wake me up” but it was soooo insane! Pure insanity..but absolutely amazing)
    - Blow Up – made in the mid-60s this film will whirl you around and leave you feeling pretty dazed (even without current movie magic)
    - Elephant – about Columbine…freaky!
    - Elephant Man – David Lynch masterpiece..makes you reflect on how cruel we can be to those who seem “different”…so sad..
    - Talk to her – fate? disordered love? fantastic?

  • Joca

    Most of this are among my favorites, a couple of them i didn’t knew. I’d add Bad Boy Bubby (1993) to the list. – Its ousider prespective will make you look at the world in a different way.

  • Nomadic Matt

    @ George: The Game!!! Excellent choice.

  • red

    definetly a scanner darkly! another rotoscoped movie that is, if not mind blowing, then pretty thought provoking

  • koflux

    Cool list. I agree with any film based on Philip k. Dicks novels (Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly). Apparently some big form has just bought the movie rights to all his stories – bring it on.

    ‘The 13th Floor’? It came out the same time as the Matrix but had all the same questions presented in it.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    I liked “A Scanner Darkly” but it didn’t come together quite as well as “Waking Life.”

    And ‘The 13th Floor’ was also a good film about the nature of reality, but wasn’t quite as classy as the Matrix.

  • Nicole

    This is an excellent list, including all the commented suggestions. I have to say the one I would add is K-PAX. It stunned me to tears at the end. Everyone should watch it sometime if you haven’t already. It deals with mental illness in a way that makes it all seem real.

  • Omniron

    All The Kaufman stuff is mind blowing, and I also recommend “Pi”.

    • larenzo

      jacobs ladder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i remember my friends in h.s. that worked at the movie theater and they said old people were asking for their money back cuz they didn.t understand it, remember the move all happens in one second

  • Jeremy

    12 Monkeys didn’t make it to this list and Donnie Darko did?

  • Brad

    how had no one mentioned equilibrium yet?
    That should definitely be on this list

  • Dave

    Another two to consider:

    Memento and Vanilla Sky

  • jeff

    What about Videodrome?

  • ciaran

    im surprised nobody has mentioned it yet i presumed it would feature in the list
    george lucas’s ‘THX – 1138′. truly blew my mind more than any other movie. (and the matrix is a trilogy – does it still count :-)

  • Brian

    Firstly, great list mate!

    American History X blew my mind, maybe coz im Irish nd didnt(and still dont) know all the history enhanced it for me, great show!

    Trainspotting is another film id add, the cold turkey seen is mind blowing(if ya dont know what its like ta go cold turkey from herion, like me)

  • Quinn

    What about Being John Malkovich one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen, and a very “mind blowing” premise.

    Overall though I like the list ;)

  • Matthew

    Whatever you do, avoid at all costs the director’s cut of Donnie Darko. The original release is great. The director’s cut is the product of the unfettered vision of the same man who made SOUTHLAND TALES. Run away! Run away!

  • Stef

    V for Vendetta!

    Probably my favourite film ever, also about a dystopian society. The storyline is just mind blowing, so good. Plus Natalie Portman is really fuckin hot :D and stephen fry is a legend..

  • Emily

    Someone else said it, but I have to say it too, “Elephant” deffinitely should be on here. Also “Tarnation” is great.

  • Mickey

    Nirvana from 1997 with Christopher Lambert.

  • Patrick

    I just saw waking life, and i agree with you on that one. It’s a brilliant movie, delivered so well. I also agree that “What the Bleep Do We Know” started very well, i was in love with the movie until about the second half when those blobs took over, that was a major let down.

  • JD

    Wow! I think you just literally listed my favourite movies of all time.

  • Aaron

    Fantastic list. Nice to see Waking Life on there.

    The one film not here that I think of would be Primer. It was an amazing look at the nature of time. Especially considering the concepts it explorers are possible, theoretically.

  • Jacob

    No list of “mind blowing” movies is complete without the inclusion of Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore)

  • turben

    The Fountain, great movie, makes you think for days.

  • koflux

    An after thought. Which came first, ’13th Floor’ or the ‘Matrix’. Obviously a case of script secrets being leaked between big Hollywood agencies. Getting back to P.K.Dick, he was writing about this in the 1950′s. Incredible!

  • dean

    No David Lynch makes for an “All Work and no Play makes Johnny a very dull boy”

    Blue Velvet or Mullholland Dr.
    Kubrick’s last film with psycho Tom Cruise

  • Benji

    Awesome list! I love a lot of these movies and will be adding quite a few from the comments to my rental queue.

    Thanks folks!

  • Rob

    Wow, nice list. At least seven of them I consider on my list of all time favorites. The one title I thought would be on here is The Graduate. It’s the closest thing to a successful film adaptation of books like Catcher in the Rye and On the Road. It’s mind blowing in the same way that American Beauty is. Dustin Hoffman at his best!

  • mcasella

    Mulholland Drive?

  • Xaviour

    I just happened to StumbleUpon this page and I love the list and comments.

    I just wanted to know if you could put out an extended list for your top 25? I would really be interested in reading it.

  • Michaela Lola

    Waking the dead …not sure if I have the title right, but its the one with Nicolas cage where he is a medic

    Cement Garden…low tech, very british but so weird…loved it!

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Xaviour – great idea. With this much interest, I think an expanded list is in order. I’ll try and put it together with comments from all the other people here!

  • JK

    Nice list, except that the Matrix is a crap film that hinted at serious thought before taking the really easy way out (summed up best by one word, in Reeves’s typically wooden inflection, “Guns”) and turning into a horrible John Woo/HK-action ripoff. The only thing worse than a bad film is a bad film that could have been great, and Matrix is one of the worst ever.

    However, American Beauty and Fight Club are exactly right. Brazil, Dark City and Network are also great mindblowers. I’d parrot Clockwork Orange or 2001 or almost any Kubrick film (especially Dr. Strangelove). What about even before that, Blade Runner, Psycho, Taxi Driver, and other films made before 1990, no love for them?

  • banner

    i think Equalibrium with Christian Bale deserves to be on this list. Waking Life is my fav movie ever…bout time its get a lil’ nod.

  • Nivekian

    I don’t get this list…
    Sure, they’re good movies(most of them), but just how simple does ones mind have to be to be blown by these flicks? They are all very straight forward and basic. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m really glad these movies have been made and that they delved into the subjects that they did. Even if those subjects were ‘re-runs’…
    Though I can’t think of any movie that has really blown my mind, Pi would make a good addition to such a list of good movies that allow people to think… hmm… maybe I should just make my own list! :P

  • Jess

    About the What the Bleep comments, not only were the blobs annoying but it also has many facts just plain wrong. They completely misunderstood Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and many other fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics.

  • novie-g

    i know that lists like these can never be all inclusive, but there are no darren aronofsky films listed here, and that is a mistake.

  • Sam

    Stalker completely blew my mind.

  • Felicia

    La Double Vie de Veronique blew me away and started a love affair with films from its director, Kieslowski. Le Decalogue remains a classic as he gives his take on the Ten Commandments and his tour de force La Trilogie, Tricouleur or Blue, White, Red is not to be missed. Amazing cast! Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irene Jacob, enough said. Three great films, all life changing. Blue is almost painful to watch, I felt I understood life better after watching any of his films.

  • Felicia

    Motorcycle Diaries

  • misterhappy

    I have to agree that Pi is one of the most mind blowing movies I have ever seen. I have watched it dozens of times and continue to find new things on each run through. Much better the requiem for a dream ( a crap movie in my opinion).

    Not to sound like a pot smoking college kid, but how about the Wall. I personally think it was a brilliant interpret of how a Hitler or Stalin could come to be. Combined with amazing music and add in the use of the anamation and I think you have a mind blower.

    Also Adaptation is one of the best movies I have ever seen. If you are a Vonnegut fan you must see the movie. I have never had another writer be able to tell you what was going to happen and still be surprised when it did. Much less have someone translate that idea to video. Adaptations is the only movie that tells you what will happen and you are still amazed when it does happen.
    (OK Monty python did that a live at the Hollywood bowl with the slapstick school bit)

  • rcm

    No ones mentioned the shinning or IT?
    not all that thought provoking but i must say those two out of all of kings film adaptations are truly mind twisting.
    I also must give my thumbs up to equilibrium, blade runner, 12 monkeys and pretty much any movie terry gillium directed or was involved with. including; in their way, all the python films and especially Fear and loathing in las vegas. The wall, and some of the early Beatles stuff is pretty out there too.

  • Jody

    I’d love to see “The Straight Story” added to this list…not all movies that are mind blowing or great commentaries about the human condition have to be “in your face” film making.. I feel that some of the most profound films are very quiet in their presence…

    Also more recently: “No Country for Old Men” a completely mind-blowing, hugely relevant picture commenting on the nature of violence.


  • Daniel

    Great list. I’ll agree with every movie on there. But one I’d definitely add is V for Vendetta, it completely altered my perception of how to decide whether or not to accept the governmental rule over most people. But please, no K-PAX, it was stupid and far from mind-blowing.

    My favorite on your list is Fight Club or Donnie Darko. Another good one to add would be The Shining, great thriller dealing with the psyche of a crazed murderer.

  • Bill

    Believe me, back in the early 70′s when A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was first released, it blew everyones mind…and then some.

    I’m also surprised Kubick’s 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY isn’t mentioned.
    If you haven’t seen this the big Screen then at least watch in on a large HD screen.

    And I’ve saved the best for last: EASY RIDER. That film still makes me think hard about society, relationships, priorities in life (the opening scene when Peter Fonda takes off his wrist watch, looks at it, throws it to the ground and rides off still get to me). Oh and of course, Jack Nickelson’s tale of UFOs nik, nik, nik, nik!

  • Kevin

    Good list, although you seem to be missing “Pi”. It discusses the nature of casual life following an order, instead of typical random causality (chaos) and BLOWS YOUR MIND.

  • Daniel

    Oh! I just remembered! How about the original Rollerball!!!

  • Bill

    Another Jack Nicholson film (I can’t believe I misspelled his name) that fits this category: FIVE EASY PIECES.
    In case you can’t tell I’m a student of the film revolution of the 70′s.

  • Mariaah

    I hate to be the one to complain, but in American Beauty doesn’t he get the hots for the daughter’s friend instead of the friend’s daughter??

    Either way, I think this is an awesome list, and most of the movies mentioned in the comments are now [or were already] on my to-see list.
    Actually, I heard about a lot of the older blow-your-mind films by watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls. I know it’s like a gay, girl’s show, but the pop culture references in there are sooo rich. It’s a really sly show that should be given a chance, but I’m gonna try not to turn into advertisement…

    I would say V for Vendetta is a great movie to be considered, but I’m not sure that it’s a Top 10er.
    And I only recently saw the first two Matrix movies, only because a troupe of friends kept raving about the craziness of them. So I was expecting to be blown away and while the idea of a completely fake “reality” is interesting, I thought it was still kinda lame and that there has to be other movies that have presented such idea in a much more mind-blowing manner!…

    Right? I just can’t remember names right now.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    eXistenZ – a bizarre, unjustly forgotten film by David Cronenberg. Come to think of it, any Cronenberg film is “mind-blowing.”

    Putney Swope. Seriously, it’s a movie.

    Army of Darkness. Revises everything you thought you knew about horror/comedy.

    Solaris – the original, from Tarkovski.

    Have you noticed the majority of these films are science fiction? I’d consider anything that really you to confront the human equation (whatever that is) by stepping outside of what’s “real” to be science fiction – the best of that genre aren’t about ray guns and rubber alien masks, but sustain or allay fear about the future.

  • Mariaah

    OHHHH and I also meant to say,
    how CRAZY is it that I just happened to StumbleUpon this website on May 27th, 2008, which is the date the list was POSTED and the date of all the replies??

    Maybe it’s not that crazy to anyone else, but I never StumbleUpon something from the day of my stumbling, so I was expecting this to be this really old thing but everyone was on today and reading the same thing I was reading at the same time and commenting while I was commenting and right now someone else is probably commenting again, and we are all together in this really weird way and OH MY GOD the Internet is just crazy!!!!

    The simple things man, blow your mind sometimes…

  • Hillary

    This list is awesome.

    I would echo whoever has said Blue Velvet. I once heard someone say (in maybe an IMDB message board) that if you saw it before your 18th birthday it would ruin your life. Although much tamer after multiple viewings, I remember the mind-blowing effect it had on me the first time.

    I feel like we’re all forgetting a few really major ones.

  • Kylie

    You’ve listed most of my faves, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, Momento, Mulholland Drive, V for Vendetta, A Clockwork Orange. But there is a movie that shook me to the core. It isn’t abstract or questioning reality. It IS reality. Nitty-gritty, harsh, in your face, ugly, excruciating. And it hurts more than requiem for a dream, even more than trainspotting, because it’s so horrible and so true. Once Were Warriors. Watch it if you dare.

  • michaela lola

    loved “once were warriors” freakin cried mz ezes out…

  • 1minutefilmreview

    Hi Ian, the comments are insanely overwhelming! And, nice selection of films.
    To us, these films could be in the list too:-

    ‘Audition’ & ‘Visitor Q’ by Takashi Miike
    ‘Following’ by Christopher Nolan
    ‘I Stand Alone’ & ‘Irreversible’ by Gaspar Noe
    ‘Breaking The Waves’ & ‘Dancer In The Dark’ by Lars von Trier
    ‘Man Bites Dog’ by Remy Belvaux

  • Rommelito

    I thought ‘The Others’ was pretty good in that it changed your perspective. I suppose I got emotionally attached to it since this was the kind upbringing I received whatwith mothers thinking they were always right.

    my two cents …

  • garyvdh

    Some of my fav mind blowing films, from an existential point of view… The first few are all Tom Hanks movies…

    1) Joe versus the Volcano
    2) Castaway
    3) Forrest Gump
    4) Saving Private Ryan
    5) The Green Mile


    6) Bicentennial Man
    7) Shawshank Redemption
    8) Bride to Terabithia
    9) Finding Neverland
    10) Nell
    11) Requiem for a Dream
    12) Groundhog Day

  • Travis

    What about Memento, Deja vu, and Crash?

  • Buck

    Agree with American beauty theTruman Show and Fight Club – I know it isn’t a movie but the TV show “Angels in America” was pretty mind-blowing, as was “The Deer Hunter” I also like “The Wall” (Pink Floyd). . I haven’t seen the others but thanks for the tips – I will certainly try and get to see them

  • Pascale

    All excellent choices, and I’ll come back to the comments for more that I haven’t seen! I would suggest In Dreams. Granted it was not a great movie, but the end just blew my mind. That last scene is one of the most touching and disturbing I’ve ever seen. Might be because I’m a mother, because other people I talked about it with did not really share my opinion.

  • naysayer

    with the exception of the last 2 on list, i have to say these will only blow the mind of a 16 year old. the truman show? seriously? wow. i know these lists are always subjective, but how about, i dunno, one non-american film? i’d stick to traveling, personally.

  • justjoeindenver

    Amazing. You just published my favorite films. I would have moved Brazil a bit higher up on the page, but I understand… Most people I recommend it to don’t talk to me much after viewing it…

  • Justin

    Primer should be on this list!

  • Bill

    By the way, the BIG problem I found with WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW was creditability. In other words A film that was backed by and starred “Ramtha” -the biggest bullshit artist of our time.

  • Bill

    One last note. Even though it’s not a movie, the 1968 TV mini-series THE PRISONER starring Patrick McGoohan should absolutely be on everyone’s must watch list if you want to question existentialism and the human condition.
    Yes it was made 40 years ago but it’s still amazingly fresh and relevant today. A spy that resigns is kidnapped and forced to live in the “Village” – a town where no one can escape and everyone’s name is changed to a number. No one knows who took them, why or who’s side they are on. Number Six (McGoohan) is constantly promised that he will be released back to his normal life if he would answer a simple question. He refuses to oblige his captors.

    This show is just dripping with symbolism that people even today are debating about.

  • Joh

    Stranger than Fiction is worth a look if you like the films on this list.

  • Cody McKibben

    Wow this is a really powerful list, Ian. Thank you for compiling this, and you’ve expressed a lot of really complicated, cynical philosophies (that I subscribe to) in a really elegant way here. I often feel frustrated at the way the “news”, entertainment, and politics seem to distort the real world and tell us what is real and what matters. If you read much of the philosophy behind the Matrix, it’s as if our consumerist American culture (and probably most cultures, though this is the only one I’ve had intimate experience with) is the simulacra covering up the “real world”, and as if the superclass you reference under “Network” distracts us with “news,” “borders,” and “democracy.”

    What are we to do though? That’s the question. I think about the power these mediums have, the “superclass,” and I feel powerless, like there is no way that I could ever really hope to even make a dent against the institutions of authority. What do we do about that?

  • Walt

    I’d say anything by David Lynch would fit this list. Also, the movie Funny Games is perfect for this list b/c the movie is just a thesis about violence in media.

  • Jonathan

    Great list! There are a few here that I haven’t checked out yet…Thanks, I am always on the hunt for new good movies…
    If we are talking coolness, Fellini’s 8 and a half is awesome…but for mind blowing, I would have to add Requiem for a Dream…It made me feel like a got kicked in the stomach afterwards…

    P.S. Justine you should be hung and shot for trying to add PRIMER to this list, one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
    Garyvdh! Tom Hanks?????????? Joe Versus the Volcanoe…. I suggest you find a high roof top and sit on the edge and ponder life….

    A shout of to Bill for adding Easy Rider, and I think PI is the undeclared winner that you missed

  • PWFrey

    Silent Running, 1971, directed and created by Douglas Trumbull, presents both radical denial of American consumerism and anarchic denial of political or even friendship bonds in the name of environmentalism. Those seem a couple of recurrent mind-blowing themes in the interesting movies being discussed on this thread, but note the movie’s release date: way back between Silent Spring and President Carter and that first ‘oil crisis’. To me this film is still a deeply disturbing picture of a future economy and a future human sensibility to which we seem headed.

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  • The Zoner

    Thanks–I have a tab open here and one for my netflix queue. I’ve added several of the films. One that hasn’t been mentioned yet that blew my mind was “Jacob’s Ladder” with Tim Robbins. Scary, trippy and makes you think.

  • Donald W. Johnston

    Excellent list and great comments (mostly). I realize I was young and all, but two that truly slew me were Vonnegurt’s Slaughter House 5 and Dudley Moore and Peter Cook’s Bedazzeled. Billy Pilgrim died and I went to the bathroom thinking the film was over, then I came back t fing on another planet. That will disorient any ten year old, I think!! Thanks, DWJ

  • kim caspar

    Sir, your sad list shows that you are very young and have a very limited perspective on movies, and also that you are embarrassingly etnocentric. I would blush to have my friends and collegues read it, if my list read like that.

    I am sure you were raised on cartoons and comics, but films are really about very much more. No offence intended, but I pity your shallow taste and views.


  • ClockCat

    Idiocracy. It does such a great job, with such deadpan humor.

  • valla

    EYES WIDE SHUT – I think this movie is way under appreciated.

  • Elem Noel

    IMHO, you left out two of the most mind blowing films I have ever seen “Naked Lunch” and “Jacob’s Ladder”

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Kim Caspar – Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps you could offer some films that you consider better at presenting complex ideas in an accessible style.

    Milander – As far as I know, there is only 1 film in the list based on a book: Fight Club. And, yes, many of the ideas presented in the films are thousands of years old. But I bet you could count on one hand the number of general populace who has heard of Aristophanes. Untold millions have seen the Matrix. Which one is more likely to change the minds of more people more effectively in today’s society?

    Also, you are an ass.

  • Zach

    Vanilla sky would be a good choice. Also: Dead Man it’s by Jim Jarmusch and has an amazing cast.

  • Tim Patterson

    In response to Cody’s awesome comment:

    “What are we to do though? That’s the question. I think about the power these mediums have, the “superclass,” and I feel powerless, like there is no way that I could ever really hope to even make a dent against the institutions of authority. What do we do about that?”

    What do we do? We work together to build a better future for ourselves right now, and then invite the neighbors by.

  • k.Caspar


    Such Canons as you propose are – of course – popular and perhaps innocent as they are meaningless. But to compare films against each other in such an over- simplified (or “accessible”, as you say) fashion is possibly entertaining, but in reality represent an artificial way of creating a taxonomic order where there is none; a film we like is indivisibly linked to our individual emotional experience as well as our cultural training and perceptions. If you can find depth and meaning in “Fight Club”, this is your experience and thus uniquely yours. But even if I agree with your view (which I certainly do not) you can never tell if my understanding is even approximately the same as yours. So, from the outset your list does not make much sense other than as light entertainment and should not be taken seriously. Or as Yoda could have put it: “Meaning you seek, where none there is”.

    In my mind, works of art (of which there are preciously few on your list), should not be judged against each other, but appreciated as unique and independent creations, open only to our subjective interpretations and understanding (or lack thereof). Just like the novel “1984″ by Orwell is inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin’s Mbi (We), it can not be better or worse, simply different, by any objective standard. You like the one more or less than the other, but you have really no right to claim it as “better”.

    Anyway, I should not propose such a list myself, but if you go back no more than 40 years you should discover a whole range of films and directors that has made films that are significant and important to humans everywhere, and can be appreciated by most (excluding some americans whose minds are seriously desensitized by TV). To name but a few: Tarkovsky, Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa or Godard; in a highly personal and original way explore the depth and width of the human experience far above and beyond the scope of the fims on your list. I propose that your readers try to sit through a viewing of any of these masters, and actually learn something.

    And if you should be so incredibly lucky to come across Elim Klimovs “Idi i smotri ” (or Come and See) from 1985, you might possible “wake up” in a totally different way that you expected. It might even “blow your mind” :-)


  • Tim Patterson

    K. Caspar – yes, everything is subjective, but a world without opinions would be a boring place.

    To quote you -

    “You like the one more or less than the other, but you have really no right to claim it as “better”.”

    C’mon! Long Trail Ale is better than Budweiser. I (heart) Huckabees is better than Bad Santa. Tony Blair was a better PM than Margaret Thatcher, but Victoria Beckham is better looking than both of them put together – even if the 2 PMs were locked in coital embrace.

    Shudder. That’s a value judgment too.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    K. Caspar – I appreciate your further feedback. You say my list “does not make much sense other than as light entertainment and should not be taken seriously” because it is subjective to my own experience. But then you go on to recommend other “works of art” that are theoretically more “mind-blowing” according to you.

    Certainly that’s a bit ironic?

    Yes, by putting these films into a list, I am making a judgement (based on my own experiences) that they are more-likely to open the mind of the viewer. And there are many, many other films that would do the same. But this is a short list.

    I fear we’re arguing the un-arguable here. It reminds me of a discussion I had with another reader about how to “seek enlightenment.” I said going out into the world increases your chances. He said it’s better to shut up and sit still, and in the silence you’ll hear the voice of The Creator.

    He’s probably right, but if everyone sat down and shut up, that would be kind of boring wouldn’t it? :-D

  • Bill

    I was really trying to understand where you were coming from, ie; coming on someones blog and try to belittle them in a real pompous way. But then it’s really, really hard to take someone seriously that quotes Yoda.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Hey Ian -

    Re: Caspar – i had no idea you were compiling a list of art films! I have to agree with K., you failed miserably. Oh wait, you weren’t trying to do that.

    And shame on you for trying to rank them against one another! Oh wait, you didn’t do that, either.

    I despise movie snobs. State an opinion, and you better make sure it’s qualified or you’re fair game for the Fellini mavens who drink mineral water “with gas” with their pinkies sticking out.

    First he says your list sucks (paraphrased for how humans speak) and everything’s relative, then goes on to read from the req list for a film appreciation class? Ian, you and Tim are such nice guys, but I don’t have any qualms for calling bullshit. K, sir, you’re a snob. I ja ne hotchu smatret Klimov, either. Most days, I’d rather watch Brat. If I were Russian. Which I’m not.

    I’m gonna go have some pizza for dinner. It’s from this local place called V & V Pizza, just some Italians who came out from the west side of Chicago to the ‘burbs. Should I hate myself for being such a plebe? It blows my mind how much I love the stuff versus the rest. Am I being taxonomic? Is there a pill to cure that?

    Good list, Ian. Your movies are fun and I like them – and yeah, there’s enough in Fight Club to earn my respect. Like, “Don’t f*ck with the middle class.”

    God, one innocent little article and the site turns into Aint It Cool News…

  • Tim Patterson

    Hey now Bill! Yoda is a wise little dude.

  • jordan

    idk if someone else said it, but Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind was another amazing movie that blew me away.

  • Samantha

    I really enjoyed this article and the discussion that followed! Some of the suggestions made in the comment section were awesome.

    On a side note, did they do something different in the rotoscoping for Waking Life? In the article, rotoscoping was noted to be an innovated technique, though I know it’s been around for decades. I think they used it in 101 Dalmatians (original Disney animated feature).

    And on a note to KCasper above: When a list spawns such enthusiastic participation and interaction by passersby, it’s a quality list in a quality post.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Hey Tim -

    Long Trail Ale? Remember the scene in Blue Velvet, when Frank responds to Kyle MacLachlan’s request for a Heineken?

    “Heineken?!? $#*% that #$&@!!! PABST BLUE RIBBON!!!”

    (Though I prefer Sam Adams…)

  • Cody


    this has to be the most civilized argument/discussion i have ever read on the internet.

    this has raised my hopes for humanity.

    good list, Donnie Darko is one of my favorite movies

  • Mike

    I agree with the person above… but I tend to be civil too lol. Also ,add to the list Waking Life. That one is great!

    You might like my blog:



  • Beth

    what about clockwork orange??

  • Jeff

    Glad to see someone mentioned Jacob’s Ladder. Top of my list.

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  • Jake

    Natural Born Killers should be mentioned and , probably the most relevant philosophical movie of our time, Ghost in the Machine.

  • Clare

    Yeh – I like this. I´m going to have a think – wasn´t there another film with Woody Harleson about exactly the same thing but with a much smaller budget that came out exactly the same year as ´The Truman Show´but sunk without trace. I´d like to see that film.

    I think Woody Harleson is a much more interesting actor than Jim Carey.

  • Clare

    Hey! I just remembered another one – Adaptation – the sequence where he´s thinking up a script idea about creation in the middle of the night while he´s got really bad insomnia – it´s just how you feel when you´ve got insomnia sometimes – apocolyptic, eccentric and incoherent!

  • Clare

    Hey and what about the oldies: Planet of the Apes and ´The Quatarmass Experiment´?

    And the tv series: ´Saphire & Steele´ & ´Tales of the Unexpected´ and the documentaries: Árthur . Clarkes Mysterious World´a dn ´James Burkes Investigates´- they´ll do your flippin´ coconut!

  • Clare

    Arthur C. Clarke I mean

  • abby

    what the bleep. lol the worst movie ever made with a cast of idiot philosophers.

    Mind blowing? How about the birds? My favorite scene was the jungle gym that started with 3-4 crows and in the next scene was completely black. That went well beyond horror.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    What ever happened to Wim Wenders? Did that guy just disappear off the planet or what? Love or hate his stuff, it’s insane.

    Reading the comments, I had no idea Aristophanes made movies. Since, um, this is a list about movies. But what creeps me out is Milander is getting blown by a philosopher who’s been dead for 3000 years. I wouldn’t go around talking about that too loud. Friggin’ eew.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Daniel, you crack me up. Are you sure you don’t want to be a stand up comedian?

  • Daniel Harbecke

    What, give up sitting around in my bunny slippers and eating Lucky Charms all day long? Hell naw!

  • Michaela Lola

    Wim Wenders!!! I used to live near him!! (yeah, like, we hang out!!! kidding!)

    but he lives in Torstrasse, Berlin and is *supposedly* skulking around the area with a handheld looking for his next location! He doesn’t just live in one apartment, he owns the entire building and his main pad is at the rooftop where the pool is at (lounging in his hugh hefner style bathrobe and maybe bunny slippers too.. tee hee hee)

  • Brianna

    David Lynch has certainly be argued in these comments, but it seems like no one has offered up “Lost Highway” by Lynch yet. That movie gave me the biggest brain fry I’ve ever experienced after watching a movie. Lynch does an excellent job of bring the insane, illogical, and twisted right to your doorstep. You may not want to, but you think about his films for weeks and weeks after. It’s almost like you’ve been through a trauma; you keep flashing back to the protagonist with bloody hands. It’s positively horrid. Even die-hard Lynch fans have trouble watching it because the mind-fuck it produces.

    If you haven’t seen the animated version of Watership Down…that ruined my life as a child. I can’t trust bunnies anymore. I’m shuddering even thinking of their proper little British accents and their evil plans.

  • Erik

    “Human Traffic” (1999) should be up there.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    …And, if “Human Traffic,” “Trainspotting.”

  • susannah

    nice list. i like all those movies, especially “waking life”.
    now don’t get me wrong, i’m not an anime geek. i hardly watch it. but “neon genesis evangelion: the end of evangelion” is one of the most mind-blowing movies i’ve ever seen. if you’re into thoughts about existentialism you might like it (though you might want to watch the tv series first).

  • Brian

    Oddly, this list is not really about movies at all. The movies that Ian lists are all fishnets and fishnets are designed solely to catch a fish. It makes little sense to discuss the merits and demerits of the world’s coolest fishnets. The question is, Did your coolest most awesome movie or book or song or painting free your mind? Did you catch the fish?

    Ian’s question is – what is life? what is truth? what is reality? These questions are like the finger pointing at the fish. And if you go looking for a fish you’ve lost your way.

    Free your mind.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Indeed. Free your mind of books, art and movies. Hell, I barely listen to my wife anymore.

  • Alan

    I only skimmed the comments so if someone already mentioned this you can give yourself a hug.

    Total Recall.

    still love it.
    *fans hands out from the top and side of head, rolls eyes and makes PERSCHKOO sound*

  • Brian

    Books, art, movies, food, clothes, music etc are merely pretty props on a pretty stage designed to lull us into a pleasant state of mind. Have you ever asked yourself, Is there more to this stage in this theatre? Who are the crew, the lighting technician, the stage manager, the sound tech, the director? Why am I here in this theatre? How can I see backstage? How can I see the people who control what I see, who control what I think?

    We are unaware that we are unaware.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Uh, no, art is intended to express things that underlie mundane life. There’s no alterior motive (before you sell out). It’s healthy to keep an eye toward what composes and inspires the message, but to say that art is purely a distraction is taking it further than necessary. Ideally, art that takes you OUT of your everyday perspective is what reveals that “unaware of being unaware” thing you’re talking about. But believe it or not, if I go to a show, I’m not gulled into thinking it’s really happening. No fishy here.

    I may think a bit on how they pulled off the lighting, how the direction went with some of the prima donnas on stage, but mainly? I’ll probably be thinking about the girl who gave me the Playbill. :)

    Guys, when Ian called the article “10 Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind,” he mainly meant that they’re great joyrides to shake you out of the humdrum. Maybe even think a little bit. This isn’t the definitive list for philosophic pursuit. It’s a 10 list, that’s it. The man said “I like movies – here are 10 I found better than most.” Please don’t read so much into it.

  • Alan

    Oh man I just read Brian’s memo’s.

    Dude you are crazy as a box of pickles.

    I guess I never thought about how my clothes were the lighting technicians on the stage of life. I should probably stop wearing them and go point at a fish.

    I’m totally in ur roflcopter wearing ur lollerskates.

  • WR

    wow. great list. I’ve seen half of them and plan on seeing the rest soon.

  • Brian

    Daniel, You’ve got your eye on the girl in the red dress.

    If you think this is about a list of movies, then choose the blue pill and when you wake up in the morning, everything will be alright again.

    If you suspect this is more than movie talk, then choose the red pill and follow the rabbit down the hole.

    Make the jump.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Nah, Alan, I don’t think Brian’s crazy. I think he’s saying you can’t be too reliant on art to fill in what’s meaningful in your life. And that the messages you see are intentional and fabricated. That’s fine, I agree. But there’s a difference between the significance of art and the distraction of entertainment. I see where you’re sailing, Brian, I just can’t go that far. Your insight is reasonable, though, so no worries. :)

  • Daniel Harbecke

    As far as I’m concerned, The Matrix could’ve stopped with the Girl in the Red Dress, and I would be just as happy with the movie. ;)

  • Brian

    What I am saying, what Morpheus is saying, what Ian is saying (see up top, did any of you guys there click on his hyperlink?) is ….

    WAKE UP!

  • nd

    lame. standard issue BS internet list. and where’s Happiness?

  • Brian

    @ nd
    You must have Stumbled Upon here. Sorry, wrong forum, hon. Here’s for thinking people.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Okay, I’m up already!

    I get it. Lots of religious imagery! Clear as a bell! Om mani padme hummmm! Now uncle already!

    Did you know that Aristophanes wrote about this 3000 years ago?

    nd gets it, rudely.

  • Brian

    Perhaps I’m in the wrong forum.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Look, brother – what do you want to say? I’ve been politely trying to understand what you mean by “free your mind” and “wake up” all day now, but all you’re doing is hinting at a deeper level without explaining which one terribly well. What are you after, deconstructionism? Plato’s Cave? Baudrillard? McLuhan? Art criticism? How about a little help?

    You want to talk about something deeper, start the conversation! Quit being mystic and say what you mean, right? Until you bring something else to the table besides “you guys are sleeping,” this is still JUST a list of movies.

    You better not be trying to pitch God or something by the end of all this, or I’m just going to throw up…

  • Brian

    I’m sorry Daniel. I’ll be nice. All anyone can do is point at the door. You have to walk through it. I’ve already said too much but I’ll tell you one more thing. These questions of yours are your treasure house. Keep on asking and you’ll find your answers. You don’t have to follow anyone. Think for yourself.

    You can ask Ian but I rather doubt he will say anything more and will probably point you to the movies on the list. After all, that’s why he created the list. I’m sure he’ll have a good laugh about it. So should you. Lighten up! And …. Free your mind.

    Wake up!

  • Brian

    PS: Ian’s first name for this list was, 10 Films Guaranteed to Open your Mind.

  • Aaron

    Very interesting dude. So, wheres the door?

  • Andy

    what about “requiem for a dream”?

  • Brian

    @ Aaron. Give the man a red pill.

    The door is in any or all of the movies on this list. Take the Truman Show at the tippy tippy top. Truman breaks out of the barriers of his movieset world, sails beyond the limits of his known world into uncharted seas which threaten to drown him until, with great perseverance, he comes to the edge of the ocean where he can touch the sky. And there’s the door.

    What lies beyond your door is guaranteed to blow your mind.

    We are all Trurman.

  • itsalljustaride

    I will say this, this is one “top X” list that didn’t immediately make me want to vomit. It’s actually really good, though I’d say a few of the films included aren’t especially good, they were at least attempts at getting a deeper meaning across. Take for example “The Matrix”, as many here have pointed out, quickly turned lame and forced. I also thought “Brazil” was pretty lame, but it’s been a while since I saw it, so maybe I should give it another shot.

    I second the nomiations for :

    Watership Down (especially if you’ve read the book)
    The Fountain (I nearly bawled like a little girl at the end)
    End of Evangelion

    and throw in my own:

    Baraka (more a documentary, but still very powerful)
    The second half of “Akira”
    Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford (maybe, might be stretching the definition of “blow your mind”)
    Blue Spring (Japanese movie about highschool gangs)

    actually there are a LOT of japanese anime that fit this bill ( a quick list would maybe include Tekkon Kinkreet, Paprika, Perfect Blue, Serial Experiments Lain, Ghost in the Shell, and many more I havn’t had time to see)

    And implore you not to include “A Scanner Darkly”. So boring.

  • Kevin Coleman

    I’m amazed how this list ended up becoming a philosophical debate. Then again I shouldn’t be.
    Red pill? Blue pill?
    To add madness to the equation how about the Korean film ‘Brotherhood’ (taegukgi)?
    Its amazing what humans will do to each other and in this film it certainly is no imaginary creation. Its based on true events.
    Another one you may like to consider is ‘A.I.’ because of the human tendency to try to play ‘God Creator’………as we are now with GM!
    When will we learn I wonder?
    As for the list presented? Yes I would agree with some but the others I have still to watch.
    Anime films are abundantly popular with the younger generation simply because of the ‘escapism’ element. Lets face it the world is in a pretty bad state when you look closely. As a traveller you have the opportunity to explore beyond the holiday brochures but seldom will it be the same as the brochure pictures.
    Its the same for films in many ways. The trailers sometimes turn out to be the highlights of the film. The rest is just numbing the soul.
    Ian, if you want to recommend 10 books then I’d be up for suggesting ‘Mythago Wood’ by Robert Holdstock as a nice little intro into a far more complex world. Then read ‘Lavondyss’ by the same author. Now why has no-one made a film based on these books.
    Must say I like the subjective/objective arguments going on but lets be fair… persons opinion versus another’s is how we stimulate debate. Thats how discussions start and so far I’m impressed with the input.
    Kev C

  • Ian

    Hey all – the comments have been pretty amazing all around. I have no problem with others disagreeing with me, and it’s great to hear their own suggestions. I could probably write another article examining all the comments on this one… But there definitely has to be a follow up 25 Films list – so grab BNT’s RSS feed and keep an eye out for it.

  • k.Caspar


    Does not your list of films (nine US productions and one australian) make you ask yourself if something is actually missing from your worldview? Or are you simply not aware that films are actually being made in other countries, even in non-english speaking countries? It would be interesting to read your list of non-Hollywood productions that have actually made an impression on you? If any? What if you try to make a list of non-us films that have created an impression?

    To D. Harbecke; your comments and characterisations reveal only your poverty and shallow play; but you provoke not. Aquila non capit muscas.


  • Ian

    K. Caspar – Are you kidding me? The list is not called “The Only 10 Films Worth Watching On the Planet That Will Blow Your Mind.” By suggesting I don’t find non-American films interesting because they’re not on the list is offensive and entirely based on your own wildly erroneous judgment. Please don’t comment again unless you have something intelligent to add to the conversation.


  • Daniel Harbecke


    To say Ian’s list (keep in mind he never said it was a Top Ten list) is 90% American film is a valid point. To say none of it is worthwhile because it plays outside of arthouses is not.

    If someone makes a list of films he or she feels is personally relevant, let them. If I want to share music I found exciting, must I include music from around the world to demonstrate how well-rounded I am?

    Again, it’s reasonable to say “why not include this?” It’s snooty to say “your list is prole because it doesn’t include this.” We can agree to let people have their tastes, no? We can disagree with their choices as well. But to say that Ian’s choices are lacking because they’re common is haughty. Non a me alienum putandum.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Pardon: non a me alienum puto. But hey, homo sum.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Shoot! NIL a me alienum puto. Who speaks Latin anymore?

  • jorge

    great list! as soon as I saw the title of the article, I KNEW fight club would be included and couldn’t agree more with most of your selections. Overall, keep up the good work.

  • k.Caspar


    I apologize for not adding anything intelligent. I wasn’t even aware this was a criteria…?

    “Most of all, these films challenge you to wake up…”



  • k.Caspar


    Great List, but what about “Men in Black”? That was awsome! Totally blew my mind!

    This is such a cool place and I love it! You totally, like, just blow my mind! And “American Beauty” was insane and just told me everything about the truths that would otherwise be too difficult to understand, or too terrifying to comprehend.

    Rock on, dude!

  • k.Caspar

    To D. Harbecke:

    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit.

  • Eva

    Wow, I just got caught up on all these great comments! I was all set to jump in with a sassy rejoinder to K.Kaspar (along the lines of “Dude, Aristophanes totally spoke Greek, NOT Latin! Now what’s missing from YOUR world view?!”) before I realized he wasn’t the one to bring that up. Dang.

  • steveie

    great list – but i have got to suggest “primer” which mind-bends with complete realism.

  • Daniel Harbecke


    I take no issue with your choices, and I agree with them. They’re among the finest that film has to offer. No argument. But you began your posts assuming Ian’s tastes are fed by “cartoons and comic books.” I don’t know enough about you to automatically assume ageism, but I find your attitude vastly more jejune than whatever dearth of taste you insist on trolling for.

    I’m very glad you know Latin. We can all choose to speak over the heads of one another all day in a number of languages. Won’t that be fun. We can go back and look for spelling mistakes in each others’ posts (it’s criterion, singular, not criteria) to show our mommies how oh-so-superior we are. And we can string sentences fit for Cleopatra’s neck because a master’s in English isn’t completely worthless, is it? But if you really want to demonstrate your intelligence, how about trying to communicate with the people you’re talking to instead of falling in love with the mirror? Why not offer these films with generosity instead of stinking up the place with narcissism?

    I appreciate the films you sponsor. Thank you, wonderful offerings, I agree. I also enjoy intelligent posts and clever insight, and would enjoy discussing their merits toward “blowing your mind” (please, can’t you tell how easy-going this list this is going to be just by the title?). You only started to come down from your aerie with your last comment – like Will Smith sez, “Welcome ta Earf!” (You’re an intelligent person; there’s a gold mine of opportunity in that line alone…)

    But cast not your ad hominem garrule – lord, I can’t even take myself seriously when I write in Acadamian Regalian. Just lower your nose a little so we can talk like real people, and we’ll get on fine. But until you start some serious introspection about how pompous you’re coming off, I suspect your list of “friends and colleagues” isn’t going to number very high, and flaunting your education will seem neither appealing nor enlightening, but crass and pedestrian.

    I’m offering an olive branch because I have nothing against you. Just TALK TO PEOPLE instead of acting like you’re above them.

    By the way, I got all my Latin from reading Stan Lee in Marvel Comics. Excelsior, baby.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    For all you folks who don’t feel like Googling “vir prudens non contra ventum mingit,” it means “a wise man doesn’t pee against the wind.” It may seem like wind to you, but it’s just bluster.

  • Aaron

    Whoa, dude! I clicked on the hyperlink on the Truman Show on this list and it led me to and some really mind-boggling stuff! It took me a while to sort through, and while I dont really believe that I have dozens of cameras on me like Truman did (well maybe the traffic cams spy on me), but I have come to see that we are living really fake lives and thinking it is reality.
    “the producer-director of this stage-set world, who blocks Truman’s effort to escape, is the giant media companies, news organizations, and media-politicians that have a stake in keeping us surrounded by falsehood ….”
    F’rinstance, they lead us to believe that by wearing designer stuff at high prices we feel we are special when all we are doing is making huge profits for them. Or if I have a degree, I must be pretty smart and if you don’t, then you’re pretty dumb. And the tabloids create gossip about celebrities or play on our fears to sell copies to make profits. And the movies want me to walk around like Peter Parker because my personality isnt appealing enough. And the advertisers make us feel like shit if we don’t buy their products. And I have to work at some shitty job just to spend money buying stuff that I don’t particularly want but buy anyway to be accepted but all the while it’s just profit for somebody. And the banks give credit cards which is like a hand in my pocket of my future money so they literally own me. I feel so manipulated, so used, it just boggles my mind. Why didn’t I see all this before? Well, we all know that politicians and lawyers are not to be believed, but I thought that life was pretty much WYSIWYG. Now I dont know what exactly is real. I guess thats what the Matrix meant when they said we are just batteries so they can suck our energy. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    • Ian MacKenzie

      Hey Aaron, glad you followed up on this. It’s the first step, my friend. Opening your mind.

  • B. H. Lawrence

    I would have to agree with the previous comment by Joshua Berman on May 27, 2008. “Memento is a hell of a mind-bender, too. Disorients you for days after viewing it.” It is one of my all time favorites!

  • sir jorge

    none of these blow my mind.

  • Lawrence

    Very interesting ones. But one of my favorites… Contact.

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  • http://stumbleupon Ed

    I enjoyed the list…..even read all the comments waiting to see one movie that never showed up. Was I the only one to have my mind blown by Altered States? Keep the list updated, it is worth checking back

  • Nathyn

    The minute after reading this I went and watched The Truman Show: mind-blowing! I loved it.

  • ian

    Ed – thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check it out.

    Nathyn – glad you followed through with a recommendation :-D Work your way down the list, they’re all good.

  • danna


  • KM


    It’s a subjective list, so I guess there’s no reason to complain, but these seem like pretty generic “thought-provokers.”

    Plus, I would think it’d make much more sense to highlight thoughtful movie-makers, rather than the movies themselves. There are several directors whose entire canon is thought-provoking, and picking just one movie from each eventually becomes arbitrary. I mean, there’s really no reason to pick one Gilliam film over any other in terms of being more “thought-provoking.”

    And on that note, the absences of Kubrick and Aranofsky are rather unfortunate.

    There also seems to be an inordinate focus on one kind of provoked thought- namely, questioning either reality or authority as it is typically presented to us. I suppose those are good, blunt-force concepts which will “blow” most people’s minds, but essentially, at least half of these movies just rehash either 1984 or Plato’s Cave.

    Then again, I’m probably not one to talk. I typically don’t watch movies to have my mind blown- I’d rather read the books most of these movies borrow from (like Waking Life, which I thought was a pretty bland presentation- they basically just read from some philosophy papers). I generally just watch movies to be entertained, and end up preferring movies that present subtle, but more original, thoughts on smaller issues, rather than “big idea” stuff like these.

  • Chris

    REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is not on the list…why? Its not the sort of film you can easily walk away from, therefore it really belongs on a list like this, the impact it had on me will never be forgotten. Harrowing is an understatement, and films dont often get any better than this.

  • R.E. Taylor

    While I must admit I have not seen all of the movies listed above, I do agree that they make up a great list to start with. Like many of the other commenter I believe that you have merely touched tapped the iceberg of truly life altering movies.

  • Martin B

    Hello i would add “23″ to the mind blowing films.
    with Jim Carry its an hard to understand film but realy mind flashing

  • Jack

    PI, the prestige, the fountain, fear and loathing, the machininst, europe trilogy, party monsters, sin city, tekkonkinkreet, ghost in the shell, the shining, trainspotting, ed wood, delicatessen, city of lost children, mathilde, holy mountain, el topo, santa sangre and of course (can’t believe nobody mentioned) david lynch’s eraserhead, lost highway, mullholland drive and inland empire. and many many more… you can’t do a list about movies, there are just way too many movies which are really good. you could watch some european movies (jeunet, caro, jodorowsky, lars von trier, and so on)… ignorance is everywhere…

  • Brian

    You, you and you, panic. The rest of you, come with me if you want to live.

  • Kenny D.

    Since I actually did read every single argument, I feel oblidged to interject that I completely agree with this list and most of the suggestions that have been made including Primer and Old Boy most specifically. Network made me want to stand up and clap,

    And I bet that probably 80% of us are “Lost” fans. If you’re not, then you’re totally missing out on something that I guarentee you’ll enjoy. Go out and rent Season 1. You’ll be hooked immediately.

    Glad to see we have similar tastes Ian.

  • Brian

    Dang. Was it first left and second right or first right and second left?

  • Rocket

    I’m gonna follow the trend here and say that even though it makes me kind of a fan girl, and really really nerdy “Death Note: The Movie” blew my mind. It was very clever, I thought.~

  • Patrick

    The comments in this forum were almost as good as the list itself (especially Caspar – there’s nothing quite like an internet argument taken too far). Loved all the movies that I knew from the list, and I’m about to go rent the one’s I didn’t.
    Bravo Ian!

  • Sean

    What about Gattaca? That movie freaked me out about genetic engineering and how in the near future, anyone could be anyone.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    I’d not seen The Waking Life until this evening, had never heard of it until this article. It has moments of interest, some fascinating thoughts (if you listen and re-listen) – it didn’t quite blow my mind, though it did startle me!

    The first speaker was Robert Solomon; he taught philosophy in Texas, and I’ve seen some DVDs he made discussing existentialism. He passed away a few years ago.

    So when four men refer to a seated gentleman as “Mr. Debord,” I did a serious double-take. Then he started speaking and I chilled. Debord was French, and this man was American. The real Guy Debord committed suicide in 1993, and this film was made in ’01. Since they spend so much time talking about “dream world” and interacting with spirits of the dead, it kinda set the chair up to be pulled out from under me. Freaked me out…

  • Pat

    Being John Malkovich

  • me

    Oh yeah, I forgot, they only make movies in the West, how silly of me. It’s not like they make any movies in other parts of the world, let alone INNOVATIVE mind blowing ones.

  • TheWatcher

    The Good The Bad and the Ugly

  • mikey

    cypher was pretty cool, too

  • Jon

    Fahrenheit 911 is also a great one (the moore one is great too, but I’m referring to the old sci fi one from the 60s I think)

  • Jon

    Sorry Fahrenheight 451 I mean ;) – Ray Bradbury

  • Geoff

    How about a little known movie called “Primer”

  • bluesteel

    Funky Forest.
    Funky Forest.
    Funky Forest.

  • Vikram

    City of god ??

  • Scott M

    I’m glad you took the angle of being more about ‘what can shift your perception of life/reality?’ than just cool-weird-twisty-interesting-plotline movies.

  • perdeisel

    if we are including network and the ideas of media power and corruption then i think “A Face in the Crowd” has to be considered. Andy Griffith was brilliant and you really see the erosion of his values and the addictive nature of tv popularity. He goes absolutely insane in the last scene!

  • carrion

    I can’t believe how many poeple would add “What the Bleep Do We Know?” to this list!
    The movie is an abomination, kinda like Michael Moore going esoteric. Every credible scientist in there (there weren’t many… but who cares if you can have a chiropractitioner rambling about quatum physics) protested because the makers edited their interviews to convey things they never intended.
    I was interested for the first half hour. Then the bullshit about love-enfused water-crystals and stuff like that started. It made me physically sick.

  • Larsson


    As already mentioned Momento (The Machinist to lesser extent) & Scanner Darkly.

    Personal favourite Michael Douglas Falling Down

  • Jason

    eXistenZ outdid The Matrix as far as the question of what is real, and did it without the glitzy SF. It’s also more relevant I think because you can easily see parts of our society marching towards the premise of eXistenZ vs. the one of The Matrix.

    Both are excellent films for different reasons though.

  • Mad Ned

    If you are a Buddhist, Groundhog day would be on the list. It perfectly encapsulates a lot the principles – the cyclic nature of life, the true meaning.

    (not money or power, but to get the most you can of life, and to make yourself and others happy)

  • MarkDTS

    I love this list! You’ve done a great job in putting it together. I would like to add a couple of my own to this list just in case you haven’t seen them.

    Being John Malcovitch
    Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
    Fritz Langs’ Metropolis
    Punch Drunk Love
    Six Ways to Sunday
    Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

    While a lot of these may not be “mind-blowing” to the caliber of strapping 5 sticks of dynamite to your head and waiting for the boom. They are all films that have sparked deep thought from myself.

    I hope you enjoy this quick list.

  • zaum

    I’ve watched all but maybe 2 off that list.

    I find myself spending a lot of time looking for these types of; worthy; movies :D

  • Phil

    Awesome list!! For those who love this list and most of what others posted above, here’s a few others you may have missed….

    “After Hours” – My favorite Martin Scorcese’s films.

    “Idiocracy” – Best film of 2006, from the director of “Office Space”. It’s Sci-Fi + Comedy + Politics

    “The Fifth Element” – I can’t believe people missed this one.

    “Southland Tales” – You’ll either love this or hate it, people who read this far should love it. From the director of “Donnie Darko”

    “Cube”, “Cube 2″, “Cube Zero” – Make sure you see them all.

    “The Nines” – Awesome forgotten Sci-Fi from 2007 starring Ryan Reynolds.

  • Keith Worrell

    Requiem For A Dream is the only film that had such an impact on me that I vomited afterwards. The other movie that most wretched me that I frequently recommend to people looking for “social commentary” is American History X. Plenty of movies are “mind blowing” and “thought provoking”, but these two movies have had a profound impact on the way I think about my motivations / feelings / reactions to everything around me. It also blows me away how differently these two movies impact people. And for an under rated and unmentioned “thought provoking” (but not “mind blowing”) film is Center of the World.

  • Binny V A

    I’ll try to recommend some that are not in the comments…

    The Village
    Thank You for Smoking
    Lord of War
    Cidade de Deus
    Dr. Strangelove
    They live

    Sorry if my films are not all that great – the best ones are already in the list/comments :-)

  • me

    The Sixth Sense, The Machinist, The Jacket, Femme Fatale, Sliding doors. Sleuth (original) is also good, haven’t seen the remake.

  • Michael Preiss

    For the slightly “older” crowd, how about the original versions (I know the “Andromeda Strain” and “Omega Man” have been remade and but don’t know if any of the others have been remade yet.) of “Soylent Green”; “Farenheit 451″; “Andromeda Strain”; “Coma” and “Omega Man” (recently remade as “I Am Legend”, which was a bit disappointing to me since I already knew the story). While the visuals of the original movies don’t compare to those of today, the story lines certainly do.

    I certainly don’t disagree with your list or most of the titles others have mentioned. Some of my favorites that were mentioned – and some that may not have been – are “Memento”, “The Game” (each time I see it I still love it), “The Matrix” Trilogy (I’ve never seen the 3rd but have heard from several that it was lame and didn’t answer any questions.); “Seven”; “Silence of the Lambs”; “Shawshank Redemption” (can you imagine suffering through those circumstances?) and “Contact”.

  • Michael Preiss

    Whoops… In line 2 of my original comment I forgot to delete the word “and”… “and but” should be just “but”. For any who thought I couldn’t write my own language.

  • Tris

    This movie messed with my mind…

    Jacob’s Ladder

  • Bev

    What about the Life of David Gale?
    Spectacular ending!

  • Wally

    My Dinner With Andre

  • Kevin Rich

    “Primer” That movie will make your brain scream!!!

  • Andy

    I second the notion for A Scanner Darkly. I think you picked great movies, but A Scanner Darkly speaks volumes to the dangers of corporations run amok with substances, law enforcement, and the power and potential for abuse with anonymity. The Rx companies today pretty much fulfill that story, the government is pretty well paid for by them, and while we do not yet possess scrambler suits, the internet is a fabulous tool for participating anonymously.

    More existentially, the notions of perception and loss of self/identity were very well done, and it too seems to suggest repeating time (see the conversation in the diner at the end.) The story just had a more driving funky plot than Waking Life did. Waking life was a lot more artsy, for sure, but I think Darkly was more of a red pill in that it called for you to wake up and realize you face an enemy.

  • Caleb Armstrong

    Not a shabby list. I like that you backed up your enthusiasm with some ruminations from other people.

    Still, I tend to disagree with most people on Donnie Darko. I see it as little more than an episode of Dawson’s Creek trying to imitate Memento. I think that Richard Kelly probably just sat on the porch of the frat house smoking a bowl and reading Brian Greene and Michio Kaku books. I can see him pulling a Joey Lawrence: “Whoa!”

    I’ll give it up for A Scanner Darkly as well but I’m in agreement with you that it wasn’t as strong as Waking life.

    By the way, I noticed that the seminal 90′s flick Road House wasn’t on your list. I think that if you give it another glance you’ll find it to be a striking commentary on the struggles of the small business man and his fight to both not give in to corporate America and not become a part of corporate America.

    Only kidding.

    Looking forward to an expanded list. Might I suggest Akira? I see it as the spiritual successor to 2001; it attempts to tackle the same themes but from an aggressively different angle.

  • catie

    “The film’s other great contribution to mass society was the possibility that an unseen force is controlling our destiny.”

    I don’t think that was The Matrix. I think that was religion, which started to occur thousands of years before The Matrix. Dumbass.

  • Scott

    How did everyone forget about these films.

    Apocalypse Now
    Full Metal Jacket
    Pulp Fiction

  • TheCableNazi

    I’m 100% certain Ian MacKenzie has never had an original thought in his life.

  • Stephen Hage

    Great list. The one, on the list, that totally blew my mind when I first saw it, and every time thereafter is Waking Life.

    Several other favorites of mine are:

    2001 A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. A classic if ever there was one.

    The Cook, The Thief, His wife and Her Lover: If you haven’t seen this one you’re in for a real treat just hold on tight while you watch.

    Wanna be really scared? Try Jacob’s Ladder Yikes!!!!!!

    Another mind blower is: The Lathe of Heaven.

    And, finally, if you want to cry try: Shine

  • Stephen T. Colbert Jr.


    I thoroughly enjoyed your list and echo most of your selections…I will throw in some of my picks but I will keep any disagreements about your list to myself…if only to invoke/avoid some pompous retort by some equally pompous windbag in some dead language ;)

    I see lots of posters throwing in Kubrick movies but not one vote for Full Metal Jacket…after scores of cliche war movies, here is one that you sure don’t see coming unless you read Gustav Hasford’s book first…which I highly recommend since almost every great line in the movie is verbatim from the book…I think it should be required viewing for any young kid considering joining the military.

    I also want to vote for the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan? I enjoyed the whole film but that first 20 minutes had me hyperventilating…I had never seen combat portrayed like that before…truly mind blowing

    I will also add Contact…it may be the finest omen of the future WAR between religion and science…I see so much of this movie echoed in the whole Evolution\Creation debate today its scary.

    For some reason I had not seen American Beauty until a few nights ago…What a trip that was…it was amazing.

    Finally I will throw in Buffalo 66 not only because I live quite close…I found it to be one of the weirdest but good movies I have seen…Vincent Gallo has some loose wires in that head of his.

    Again…good list

  • K H

    K Caspar.

    Sir, you sound like the type of witless arrogant prick who thinks that writing in some anachronistically formal tone (which comes off as phony beyond measure) and throwing around some “intellectual-sounding” shit (not even college-minded or SAT language shit, but shit you would expect to read in a poorly written high school English essay; EXTREMELY pretentious shit at that, hence the double quotes. Oh, and Sir, I tried to think of a euphemism or at least a synonym for ‘shit’ because it feels a bit too strong, but I think ‘shit’ is probably the best way to describe your way of coming across. I sincerely apologize) or latin phrases (come on, man! surely you can do us one better! give us some of your worldly wisdom, perhaps, in a quote or phrase from any language that is less well-known or at least one that is not so sickeningly presuming. Caput tuum in ano est!) will somehow give you a semblance of authority. Trust me. You don’t sound remotely clever (if in fact, as it blatantly appears, you are desperately failing to do).

    I agree that at the moment, I don’t sound wildly intelligent. That’s because 1) I am able to admit that I am not wildly intelligent, one of my many talents and 2) I’m not trying to impress you or anyone else with free knowledge that one can look up on google, wikipedia or in a thesaurus (well I admit that I googled that latin insult, but that was just to show you how easy it is to do so, which is part of the reason why you sound so phony). You should try that sometime; just talking like a normal person and having a normal conversation. We don’t all say ‘dude’ or ‘awesome’. Well, not all the time anyway. And fuck it, Men in Black is a damn good movie. I don’t care what you say or think about that, philosophically or otherwise. Now if you said Men in Black 2, I might be on board with you on that point.

    You sound like a fresh teenager just starting to get into philosophy. If my suspicions are correct (if you’re mature enough to admit to that), I wish you all the best. But please, please don’t give philosophers a bad image! Relax your asshole a little bit and play nice. I know it’s an old joke, but I expect to find more culture in a cup of yogurt than I ever could from a conversation with you. Of course, no offense or anything, but I really, really pity you.

    There. I’m done. Sorry about all of the parentheticals. And anything that sounded insulting too; sorry about that.

    Ian Mackenzie, this is a great list. We watched a few of these films in my undergrad philosophy studies. Cheers.

  • terry

    Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay
    I forgot the name, everyone is told to stay in doors. Fairly new movie.
    Movies that SHOW People waking up to the world that it has become under the rule of TERRORISM.

  • Fractalman

    Great list and comments. I would like to add one for your consideration. Not that it was mind blowing, but illuminating, “Wag the Dog”. Makes you wonder just what has been going on in Washington.

    • Ian MacKenzie

      Fractalman – I almost forgot about Wag the Dog. That was a great film. I’ll definitely watch it again.

      K H – Thanks for the defense. It’s nice to have (the majority) of the community on your side :-D

      Stephen T – Thanks for the intelligent discourse, and additions. I think this list could easily hit 50+ … but I think I’ll try and wittle it down to the Top 25 soon.

      And thanks everyone for all your feedback.

  • Isidro Aguilar

    “Aquila non capit muscas”– k.Caspar, may I? “Christina Aguilera will not boss around the muscular people.”

    I like most of the list, especially The Matrix.

    I would include My dinner with Andre.

  • Stephen T. Colbert Jr.

    K H

    I’d like to commend you on your sharp wit and your large bucket of vitriol…dripping freely like in Aliens…better wash that down with a beer before your new best friend Caspar forms his best L. Ron Hubbard-esque counter-attack

    Even nominal geniuses like me say dude once in a while…for example…”My homeboy K H is one erudite dude.” Wow…I feel smarter already.

    All that just to add Aliens to my list Ian

  • letonja

    matrix and dark city? its the same movie! if somebody understands why i say that, pls post!!!!

  • Jick

    You forgot to mention, Linklater was using Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” Thats where he got his idea.

  • Michael Preiss

    Dudes and Dudettes -

    Not to change the vibe on this thread… OK, maybe to change the vibe just a little.

    Did you ever notice the power of words? They can begin wars – and flames – or they can end wars; they can move people to great heights or move people to depths just as great; they can make us laugh or they can make us cry – or make us laugh until we cry. Those who command them hold great power. Everyone who uses them tells us more than just a little bit about themselves.

    Words… I just love ‘em to death, no matter the language!

  • Francophone

    “Baise Moi”. Thelma and Louise with porn. Mind-blowing: What if all the Ethnic hookers started killing their clientele? More so: Why not use pornstars for regular movies? “It’s as if everything is possible.” Say what you like but the performances were stunning! (First film banned in France for 28 years).

    Your list is good, but some of the ones in the comments are better. “Audition” by Takashi Miike – that’ll get you thinking! How about “Romance” by Catherine Breillat? Someone mentioned Gaspar Noe’s “Irreversible” – there’s the only movie I would give 5 stars but recommend to nobody (friend or foe).

  • Francophone

    Or “Pan’s Labyrinth” – a proper meaty horror which may blow a mind or two.

  • spideyman

    Maybe not a mind blower but a very subtle blade through the ribs: “Being There” starring Peter Sellers was made in 1979 and was about a man whose whole life was spent as a manservant in a Washington mansion and he had never left. All the world he knew through television. Finally in his 60s his master dies and he has to leave the house.

    What the movie will do for your perception of reality is turn it 90 degrees on its side. Rent it if you can!

  • Francophone

    Sorry to go on, but…

    The snail scene in “Microcosmos” blew my mind somewhat.

    And just a short list:
    “Breaking the waves”
    “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover”
    “Team America, World Police”
    “Hemp For Victory”

  • Teri Greene

    Bliss. Australian, mid-’80s (not the ’90s Hollywood movie). Psychedelic, hilarious, viciously satirical, mind-blowing.
    A man has a heart attack and dies and is brought back by the paramedics. But in the minute of death he saw a vision of eternal ecstacy and eternal agony, and now he wonders if there’s a heaven or hell.
    Problem is: He starts learning all manner of scandalous things about his wife, children, and best friend. He begins to wonder if he’s actually back alive and has been a naive fool all his life, or if he’s dead and his personal hell is to be tormented by demons impersonating his loved ones. So he goes around with a pad and pen, taking notes on reality, trying to determine if he’s alive or in hell. The viewer sees everything from his perspective, so you can’t tell any better than he can. From the hell perspective, the most normal events look malicious and mocking. This film really puts you in a place about reality.
    The mind-blowing thing about this film is that it doesn’t merely give you the “what is reality” question. It moves on. He comes to deal with it and he and the movie change focus. He goes through that phase and it changes focus a third time.
    And has an actual ending.

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  • rguinn

    The inclusion of Brazil in this list made my day. Bravo!

  • isaac

    *thumbs up* for donnie darko and waking life

  • rusho

    What about mind blowing realities? watch Carandiru.

  • Kevin

    You didn’t mention science of sleep or memento?

  • Lynn

    I am saddened that only one other person has mentioned John Carpenter’s They Live.

  • Caleb Roy

    I’ve seen all but three of these. Loved them all. Good call.

  • Jon

    You forgot “Cube”

    The first one, that is. Not the second nor the third. Screw those ones.

  • Kivi

    Certainly the list has generated some entertaining discussion. It totally distracted me from watching Dr Who. It has stirred me to make a few comments…

    The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover – as I recall, it starts with a child being dragged through human waste and then it gets less appealing from there. Half the audience walked out of the theater. Not a bad movie or a hard to understand movie, but a very hard to watch movie.

    Saving Private Ryan – I giggled through the first 20 minutes, but I was watching on cable. And I was taking percoset and flexaril for some particularly nasty back spasms.

    Eraserhead – brings to mind other really hard to follow films like Gummo and Barton Fink and Manos: The Hand of Fate.

    V for Vendetta – Alan Moore did not like the movie, but he has not liked any of the movies based on the comic books he writes. Even so, I enjoyed the movie (but not as much as the comic books).

    To add a few movies (that I do not recall seeing listed) that affected me (to be honest, I do not think my mind has ever been blown by a movie): Blood Simple, My Life as a Dog, The Tin Drum, The Quiet Earth, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and The Milagro Beanfield War.

  • sean

    good list… here’s a few… falling down, 2001 space odyssey, cool hand luke, talk radio, what’s eating gilbert grape, and for some laughs… defending your life

  • james

    kivi–i don’t know how you giggled through the first 20 minutes of saving private ryan. that absolutely was a rivieting piece of film. the rest of the movie is pretty mediocre, but i have seen iraq combat veterans stunned by the realism of the d-day scene despite the fact of 60 years and a desert separate the two.

    the movie that made me think most that is missing from the list is the fog of war. but it really isn’t a movie so i guess it doesn’t count.

    what about inherit the wind?????

  • calenti

    The snarks emerge but this is a great list. The plebian accusations are, as always, from those who seek to criticize rather than enlighten – on the Internet everyone knows you’re a churl. We admire what we see, and if our only route to discovering international films is via the dirty spoon of scolds and haute cinema GFBs we’re not likely to discover anything overseas any time soon.

    The movies we’re picking probably show our fomative ages – for me the two biggest were Doug Trumbull’s “Silent Running” and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Night of the Living Dead series before Land/Diary of the Dead, which is just poor George trying to keep the gardener in rubber galoshes.

    The Bermuda Depths can be difficult to find but is worth the trip.

    And Joe Vs. The Volcano…I totally agree that it’s an utterly Zen movie and Tom Hanks’ Joe is a 20th century American approximation of finding Buddha on the road. Anyone who criticizes it for the satire and parody elements…well, let’s just say I have no response to that.

    Also…The Trigger Effect. Desperately needs a non-Brett Ratner remake.

  • pcubed

    Great list, and many great suggestions by others.

    Repo Man is a worthy contender alsom

  • calenti

    One more…the daddy…Vanishing Point.

  • Shine

    The classic film Jacob’s Ladder is my personal mind blower.

  • Kurt Young

    After Hours, would certainly fit in your wonderful list, whether it’s important, or a piffle is up for debate. One other movie I haven’t seen mentioned is “Strange Days.” Again, probably not one for the intellectuals, but the dreams definitely raised something in my psyche. And one really minor movie to reccomend: “Miracle Mile.” Anthony Edwards answers a pay phone and learns nuclear war is 70 minutes away. Crank call? Real? What would you do?


  • harry flashman

    Enthisiastic Seconds on Vanishing Point! Did he see those dozers hidden by the rising sun?

    Did anybody ever get the point of Zabriskie Point?

    And Caspar – you’re as translucent and as relevant as your comic book namesake – with as much substance.

  • John Doe

    I think Equilibrium should be in the list too.

  • Kay

    Great list.
    I would add American History X and The Butterfly Effect

  • Joe

    “The Prestige” – still really hurts my brain…

  • John

    What, no Unusual Suspects. I won’t give away anything, but the first time you watch it it will blow your mind.

  • John

    Whoops Usual Suspects

  • Alex

    Ian, folks of the internets. :)

    Thanks for the fantastic list and the great commens.

    I’d like to add Truckers. Not exactly mindblowing, but it’s a wonderful, eye-opening movie about small-mindedness, religion, tall tales and other “things” (that may be unknown and therefore simply could not be).

  • J

    Ken Park

    The Twin Peaks TV series

    Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby – Might not ‘Blow Your Mind” but it is a good movie nonetheless.

  • fatguy

    I think you are all forgetting the greatest and most mind blowing movie of all time… Dude Wheres My Car?

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  • ChuckNash

    Stephen King’s 1408 was a creepy, trippy film. For some reason, I never get tired of watching it.

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  • Xiaoding

    A few I remember:

    Demon Seed (horrible beginning, but no one EVER guesses the ending)

    Walkabout (the scenes are not in order!!)

    Colossus: The Forbin Project (a computer takes over the world! Does humanity have a chance? Uh…no)

  • csven

    - “Network” is a great movie but it didn’t blow my mind, so I’d replace with one that did: “Gattaca”.

    - Thoroughly enjoyed “American Beauty” but that one didn’t blow my mind either, and would substitute “Blue Velvet” instead.

    - “Dark City” is a fun flick, but it didn’t come close to blowing my mind and would replace it with an anime, “Ghost in the Shell” (which came much closer).

    - Haven’t seen three films on this list, but if they didn’t amaze me, I’d plug in either “Videodrome”, “Pi”, or “Dead Man” as appropriate.

    - Finally, I’d also include “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” because my list would go up to 11.

  • Simon

    Notable additions to make your brain tick:

    “Groundhog Day” (Bill Murray. Excellent parable for reincarnation and learning
    to give and care about others);

    “Kung Fu”; The original, old TV series and pilot movie (not the new series “Kung
    Fu, the legend continues”). Lots of examples of humility in general, and the hum -
    ble attitude a student monk must have to learn and grow. Lots of good spiritual
    lessons between a few “kung fu” fighting scenes;

    “Lost Horizon” (The story of a place called Shangri-La. There is an old black and
    white version directed by Frank Capra [‘It’s a Wonderful Life’] starring Ronald
    Coleman, or a newer color version staring Peter Finch, Michael York, Liv Ulman
    [it’s a musical also, with a Burt Bacharach soundtrack and score.] Both versions are
    based on the James Hilton novel );

    “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”, which I would like to talk about here. “Brother
    Sun, Sister Moon” was beautifully filmed by the famous Italian director Franco
    Zefferelli (“Romeo and Juliet”), and has a soundtrack by Donovan. It is the story of
    St. Francis of Assisi. It contains many examples of humility, but the scene where
    Clare expresses her realization of humility to Francis, is one of the nicest examples.
    Francis has long ago left behind the “normal” world, and lives a simple life as
    a beggar monk, serving God and attending the poor and infirm, outside the city.
    Even though Clare is an exceptional person, and even prior to Francisco’s (St.
    Francis) changes, she cared for the lepers who were exiled from the town, she has
    not dedicated her life to serving others, or to God. And while there was an obvious
    bond and attraction between Clare and Francis, and an appreciation of his
    changes and work, she nevertheless remained with her wealthy family in the city.
    One day, she comes running through the fields, happily calling for Francis. When
    she finds him, she asks to be taken into his order, and essentially declares “I don’t
    want to be loved anymore, I want to love. I don’t want to be understood any longer
    - I want to understand”. This moment in the movie is an incredibly touching, and
    beautiful expression of humility.

    “Strange Cargo” (Clark Gable); A hardened, cynical criminal, condemned to
    years in an old French “swamp island” type prison, suddenly encounters a new prisoner
    - a mysterious, kind, Christ-like prisoner. He then escapes with other convicts,
    and the Christ-like prisoner, and comes to a personal crossroad in his path. He
    faces his karma, and at the most critical moments in his life, he ultimately chooses
    to lend his will to the “good” part of himself. In doing so, he ultimately finds peace
    and the Love of a good woman.

    “Meet John Doe” (Gary Cooper); Wonderful story about two things – the importance
    that the “average person on the street” can have – the “John and Jane Does”
    of the world. And how simple kindness, humility, and caring, could make this world
    a virtual paradise. Also illustrates how the selfish, powerful, “dark ones” of this
    world, do everything they can to prevent this. Very inspiring.

    “Beyond Tomorrow”; Three loveable old men die in a plane crash, but remain
    on the Earth plane as ghosts to watch over and help a good hearted young couple, one of which is facing the dangers of getting sucked into a selfish, superficial, materialistic existence. Excellent parable of self-sacrifice, and love.

    “Dr. Strange” (TV movie); Not made all that well, or totally true to the incredible
    metaphysical stories it was based on, but still, a great story of Good against Evil,
    humility, and how many things that are unseen by most, do really go on in the

    “Circle of Iron”; Basically a martial arts movie, with many Zen , humility, and
    other lessons.

    “Star Wars”; A classic parable of good vs. evil, and the “great fight” between
    them on many different levels.

    “Brother Orchid”; Cute, wonderful movie with Edward G. Robinson as a “tough
    guy” gangster who goes to Europe trying to buy “class”. When he returns, his former second in command (Bogart), tries to kill him. Left for dead, monks from a
    local monastery who raise flowers, help him recover. At first he just figures it’s a
    good hide out, and approaches being a monk and working in the gardens with the
    same scheming selfish attitude that got him to the top of the gangster ladder. He
    eventually changes, and discovers “real class” there.

    “You Can’t Take it With You”; A Frank Capra film. Heart warming story about
    a zany, but extraordinarily kind and open minded family, who are thrown together
    with a powerful socialite family, through the proposed marriage of their children.
    The results are both hilarious, and fascinating.

    “Resurrection”; Ellen Bernstein. Great movie about a woman who has a near
    death experience that changes her life in many ways – and more than once.

    “The Ten Commandments”; Yul Brenner, Charlton Heston. This classic depicts
    the story of Moses. Even if you’ve already seen it, next time watch it with an eye
    towards ego/humility.

    “Jesus Christ Superstar”; A musical that may be a bit hokey and dated, but it’s
    one of the best depictions of Jesus that we’ve seen. In order to really get the feeling for it, you have to listen to the lyrics of the songs. If you do that, you’ll get a
    new insight into the being known as Jesus, and his experiences, along with some
    really good lessons.

    “Joseph”; This movie beautifully illustrates the value of compassion and forgiveness.
    Joseph is put through many tests and trials and through his kindness, honesty
    and devotion to God, he overcomes them all. He had 12 brothers (like the
    twelve apostles), and in the end, he helped them in spite of their treachery towards
    him. His forgiveness and great love transformed this situation into one of love and

    “And the Rains Came”; This takes place in India in the early 1900’s. Merna
    Loy plays a disatisfied, rich and superficial woman who is visiting there. Tyrone
    Powers plays a kind doctor. A huge rainstorm hits, and major floods wash over
    the land, killing many people. The special effects are quite good considering it’s an
    old film. Next, a plague hits them, and even more people are dying. One of the
    nicest things about this film is seeing Merna Loy evolve and become a caring person.
    She begins taking care of the sick and dies herself.

    Great “Soulmate” movies.

    Since we’re on the subject of movies, we may as well mention a few exceptional
    “soulmate” spiritually romantic movies:

    “Peter Ibitson”; Gary Cooper. After being separated from his soulmate as a child,
    Peter “accidentally” finds her as an adult. He unjustly ends up imprisoned for life,
    yet their mutual dreams bring them together every night, until they finally join
    together forever.

    “Portrait of Jenny”; A supposedly true story, surrounding a painting bought by
    the filmmaker. A tale of a ghostly girl with a beautiful spirit, who appears at different ages as she grows up, crossing over different time zones to be with her soulmate.
    Her soulmate was a starving artist, whose only remarkable painting was his
    portrait of “Jenny”.

    “Somewhere In Time”; Christopher Reeves. Jane Seymour. Wonderful story,
    in which he realizes his soulmate lived in an overlapping, earlier time period, in
    which he had already hypnotized himself to travel back in time to be with her. And
    so he does it again. Paradoxical, very romantic.

    Well that was one loooong list, enjoy!

  • Akshay Agrawal

    Thats a great list. But i would really love add

    Requiem for a dream

    its really a brilliant movie in this category…..

  • Isaac

    a little late to this party but a couple of mentions:

    The Seventh Seal
    Didn’t “blow me away” immediately but just couldn’t get it out of my head for days afterwards and making you think about self and life is what all these films are really doing right? Great film.

    The Decalogue.
    10 hour long episodes about the ten commandments. Among the most conversation and thought proviking things you’ll ever see.

    The Wicker Man (the original obviously)
    I always wanted the Truman Show to be more sinister, for me it could have been more about paranoia and was always more about the possible illusion of reality than a riff on the emerging phenomenon of reality television. The Wicker Man had the kind of feel and atmosphere Ithat the if the Truman Show had had, it would have been truly terrifying.

    Spoorloos (the original of the Vanishing)
    This film made me stare into space for ages afterwards thinking about the horror of it. Another film to do that was Irreversible, truly remarkable and brave film-making and if you catch it on your own and with the right mindset, The Exorcist is a hell of a film.

    Somebody mentioned My Dinner With Andre, a great little film you’ll love if you enjoyed Waking Life and if you liked The Game, then read The Magus by John Knowles. The Game was an unauthorised movie version of the book, the film is good but the book is far, far better (isn’t is always?). I throughly recommend it to all the fans of the reality-twisting, thought-provoking genre.

    PS. K Caspar is evidently a protentious bore but he’s right with his choices: Come And See is an unorgettable movie.

  • fredd

    Anime: Ghost in the Shell or Akira.

  • leah

    Great list! But what really took me by storm where the awesome suggestions in the comments! (I have about adozen movies to watch!)

    Can i request a book list of the similar nature? To get you started:
    - the hitchiker’s guide to the galaxy (very disappointing movie adoptation-stick to the book!)
    - ender’s game
    - house of leaves (a friend recommended it-have still been trying to actually get through it… Super creepy)

  • Thomas

    Missing from the list –

    Jacob’s Ladder – A Vietnam veteran struggles to understand his reality. A total psychological mind thriller.

    Memento – Start at the end, finish at the beginning. Unbelievably intense. You start out in the dark, and by the end of the film, you wish you still were.

    Mothman Prophecies – Captivating, on edge suspense. Know someone from the area where this based-on-a-true-story happened, and the film captures the feel of the people involved at the time.

    Butterfly Effect – Don’t let Aston steer you away, it’s a thriller and he adds to it. The director’s cut is VERY hard to watch as it contains some violent scenes.

    Gattaca – Great possible future “sci-fi” drama. It does scare me a little to think about how this could happen.

    12 Monkeys – Terry Gilliam’s post devestation mind thriller. Brad Pitt is worth the price of admission, and Terry gets it all right on this, like Brazil.

    A Clockwork Orange – Great translation of the novel (the “old” American version missing the last chapter), and a great statement about society with a superb twist at the end.

    The Silence of the Lambs – Anthony Hopkins gives an outstanding performance in this detective psycho-killer crime solver. Thrilling and twisted to the end.

    The Sixth Sense – One of those movies that I talked about for hours after it was over. Pulling off a believable suspenseful supernatural psychological mystery, well, it just works and that’s difficult to do.

    Eternal Sunrise of the Spotless Mind – Total “what if” mind thriller set in the not so distant future. Totally believable “this could happen.”

    Vanilla Sky – Tough to follow and hard to watch at times, but a well thought out movie with a great ending.

    Total Recall – Any Philip K. Dick recreation is almost mandatory for this list. The story really gets you starting to think “what would happen IF you could do this.”

    Blade Runner – Keeps you guessing about what really is going on even after it ends (I prefer the original theatrical release with the H. Ford narration).

  • Dmitri


  • Michael

    Here’s one no one has mentioned that will blow you mind. But the trick is to watch the movie without knowing ANYTHING about it. Don’t read the description at all .. just pop it in and watch. This was how I saw it and IT BLEW MY MIND…

    Miracle Mile – 1989 with Anthony Edwards (ER) as lead.
    Directed by Steve De Jarnatt

  • Sukhy Singh

    Talk abt weird? here’s my favorites:

    Pulp Fiction – Amazing Travolta/Jackson
    Four Rooms – The Poor Bellboy
    Widom of the Crocodiles – Fell in love with Jude Law.

    The regular one’s:

    Kill Bill 2 – Fell in love with Uma’s determination and will power.
    Snatch – Seriously Funny.
    Crash – Teaches us a lot about the value of a fellow being irrespective of anything.
    Closer – I can relate to each of the character’s life to some moment in my love life.
    Before Sunrise & Before Sunset: The most wonderful sequel ever.

  • Jack9

    I <3 Huckabees was terrible and is obviously here in error. If you want 10 movies that will blow period, that’s where it belongs.

  • Sorry

    You must be kidding me. Those movies may be eye-opening and mind-blowing for eighth graders, but certainly not for adults who have any sense. Why not list Eraserhead, The Holy Mountain, Sans Soleil? Please look further than cheap thrills and the same spins on universal truths.

  • harry flashman

    The Wild Bunch – signature Peckinpaugh.

  • jason nevins

    Parallex View should be in this list. It’s a masterpiece

  • Alex Steed

    The comments are far better than the content here – This is a pretty safe, mediocre list but I was happy to see mentioned in the following conversation Jacob’s Ladder, The Seventh Seal, Wicker Man, and Eraserhead.

  • Michael Argilagos

    Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke…………will blow you away buddy.

  • Kaseas

    What about American History X?

  • virgil xenophon

    Very late to the game. Some of mine have been mentioned, but off top of head may I also suggest (1) “Seconds” (B&W,1966) with Rock Hudson. VERY disturbing(2) “Liquid Sky” (B&W, 90s)very kinkily offbeat and avant-garde Sci-fi/social statement about NYC performance art mis-en-scene with award-winning musical score. )3)” SLC Punk”-hilarious 90s send-up of punk druggie drop-out lifestyle in Salt Lake with keenly critical social insights.(4) “The(This?) Quiet Earth”. A late 70s NZ Sci-Fi film. about science gone wrong in a world that would be about now–again, very disturbing but with a killer ending. Well acted and directed by litttle known people. (5) “To ride a Pale Horse” with Greg Peck(1966) Almost unwatchably brutal. A tough slog, but attitude-adjusting. (B&W) (6) Orsen Wells’ B&W production of “Othello.” The opening scene while credits roll is worth it alone as an all-time tone-setter.

  • Grail

    Woah, I’m only the second person to ‘second’ Naked Lunch?

    The Holy Mountain. Ahahaha. Ok, yeah, that was a trip, but long and ultimately so kaleidoscopic and ‘challenging’ as to be dreary.

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  • Rory Flynn

    Check out a long lost classic: A Boy and His Dog.

  • CyberTech

    How about one from left field – Hostel.
    I know its shock value and ultra violence are the main topics of discussion whenever this movie is mentioned, but I think that in its own way, Hostel shows a dark underside of society that could quite easily exist (and in many ways already does).
    Its a slap in the face, and unfortunately not a particularly well scripted or directed movie, but I think that if you can get past the violence and gore there’s a lot to think about in Hostel.

  • web design company

    Here is what has been added so far to the list (based on a suggestion and then someone agreeing)
    The Game
    Twelve Monkeys
    Jacob’s Ladder
    Requiem for a dream
    The Ninth Configuration
    Vanilla Sky
    Arlington Road

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  • Blah

    What about CUBE?

  • christ

    ‘holy mountain’
    ‘el topo’
    ‘sweet movie’

  • NAV

    Nice try (in my opinion) because it is impossible to have the perfect list.
    Instead of recommending to you what i would have chosen i will make comments on the films you did chose. I fins it interesting to see how different people relate and process the info from the film.

    1)the truman show:
    I remember that when i watched this film the ending really got me (as well as the build up to it) I wanted more. Most of the details of the film are vague to me however insightful they may have been at the time. It was interesting that you chose a Jim Carrey movie first, since he was until recently more known for his comedy work. (Unnatural Act is one of the greatest physical comedy shows ever)
    Jim showed his range here (eternal sunshine was a decent movie but fairly plain, i was never really moved or surprised).

    2)I heart huckabees
    This movie i have seen more recently so i have more to say.
    Jason Shartzmann is hilarious, when you first see him on screen he may rub some people the wrong way but give him a chance. The only problem with this movie was Warlberg (they both suck “come on girl pump it up”, how do you live that down.
    The plot is basically a mind f*ck which is apparent right from the start, the search for coincidences and other twist obviously get them nowhere until we begin to see the break down of regular society patterns. I remember thinking that the break down by Jude law was good and Jason was funny but not a movie that really had any lasting effect on me.

    3)Walking life: haven’t seen, yet

    4 + 5 Matix and dark city.
    Matix one was good and after i saw it i was really hyped for the sequel, nice job hollywood and advertising. The first movie was eerie dark interesting had a strong cast, seemd cult-like, and over delivered with the plot. The possibilities were endless, i know many people had this same discussion:
    What do you think is going to happen in Matix 2? or
    What do you think the first movie was about ? and even more ominous question
    I can guarantee you could have found over a million possibilities on the streets of Ny that would have been better than the one they chose for part 2 and three.
    They limited ever thing possible down to a comic book reality (neo flying should have warned us all of bad things to come), he realizes that reality is a computer program and all his does is become a superman rip off, WEAK!
    And dark city was so hoky that i almost forgot i had seen this, maybe i should give it a second look.
    does the red pill let me get in the white room, cause for that I’m down?

    6) American Beauty:
    the reason for me this movie was so significant was its audience base, everyone saw this movie, and though many subculture fans may have been privy to this kind of dialogue before to most people it was shockingly unfiltered.
    The sweater vest and scotch crowd never knew what hit them, there they were on screen and naked.
    The direct dealing with the recent trend toward whoreness (yeah i invented so it is a word) was very poignant.
    The movie was funny, disturbing, sad, disappointing, and wonderful.( no not the paper bag part).
    I loved spaceyin this (usual suspect was no fluke he does know how to pick them) his unabashed anger and pride mixed in with 35 years of self hatred spoke to many of his generation.
    Good safe pick.

    7) Fight Club:
    Bitch did you forget the first rule in fight club.
    Awesome movie, (vgery few if any guessed the ending). The acting is good but not great but the plot and character development and phenomenal. The camera angles and lighting make gave it a total mystery feel from the start and the ending put a cherry on the cake for me.
    I would have liked to have seen a little more of project mayhem but that is also another part that makes it great. The movie leaves you full filled but wanting more, any fan can definetly watch this movie again and see more.

    8) Donnie Darko : not yet!

    9) Brazil: watched this in film class, i was really happy to be see this movie on queue compared with some of the others.
    but i was really not a fan, and i love terry gilliam (Where the buffalo roam is ridiculous)
    But this movie really didn’t hit home for me, too slow and dark, i couldn’t wrap my mind around such obtrusive ignorance and follies. i was in college at the time so maybe I was a little more hopeful.

    10) the network:
    haven’t see it but i have seen the “final speech” with his call to arms, i presume it was the ending.
    I found it nice to see some emotion from an actor which might be good to see from our newscasters now. I know they are journalist and they should show restraint but like any good poker player taking a dive, couldn’t they give us some tells.

    Maybe next time i’ll give you a list of some movies that haven’t been mentioned yet

    ps. Pi, tae-guki and requiem all are worth the time spent on watching.

  • Eric

    Agree with all of the above, I love huckabees and momento are my favorites, I thought that the Peaceful warrior should’ve been on this list as well. My Art history teacher showed it in class and read a paragraph from an eckhart tolle book the poewr of now… changed my life.

  • Cordycepsis

    I’d agree but:

    1 – Eraserhead

    2 – Videodrome


    4 – Society




  • Dabbler

    The Man From Earth – indie film and mind blower. Covers many topics, especially those that relates to immortality.

  • Scott

    My suggestions are as follows:

    Mulholland Drive
    Lost Highway
    The Prestige

    And number one film you won’t understand but will be blown away by:


    And it’s only about and hour and twenty minutes long which is great cos you’ll need/want to watch it again as soon as it finishes!! I’ve seen it 6/7 times and I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.

  • Scott

    Oh yeah, and the guy that mentioned Naked lunch. Good call. How has no one mentioned that yet!

  • Red Head

    So many of the films mentioned after the first ten, were strictly ones people liked, a lot of sci fi but no deeper message than entertainment. Mind Blowing to me is a movie that makes you ‘think’ or notice something about your own life, that you didnt notice before, or make you realize something astonishing or change your viewpoint…
    Castaway w/ Tom Hanks
    mind blowing in that so many of us are so wrapped up in ‘life’ and yet, here he discovered his own, alone and found what was really important, and rediscovered what it is to ‘live’.

    Night of the Hunter
    What IS real evil? This rich black and white movie is full of darkness and shadow and things that are on the surface that appear “Good”, true, honest…. are not what reality is under the surface.

    The Sixth Sense
    Utterly mind blowing. Cannot be denied. Watch it especially for the first time and one cannot be unmoved and touched or suprised.

  • Mel Grabsom

    I’m surprised that Gummo hasn’t been listed. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Warning there is some animal cruelty. It is a weird movie to say the least.

  • Sudhir Das

    What about The Machinist?
    And I’d also recommend No Smoking, an Indian movie. See it if you can. Not like the usual musical drivel we usually push out.

  • Thomas

    Two movies essential to this top 10 list are The Game with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, and eXistenZ with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law.

  • Rex

    I think Frequency should be noted.
    It’s not mind blowing material, but it still kinda makes you think.

  • Rob C.

    What about American Psycho? or Apocalypse Now? (a little slower but makes me think every time i watch it plus i loved Heart of Darkness)

    What about Labyrinth david bowe is mind blowing haha

  • Rob C.

    P.S. I hope the Happening makes my head explode Night needs a new great movie.. unbreakable is sick as well..

  • George W.

    to Michael Lola: I would definetly need to back you up on where the buffalo roam

    its just crazy to me and dont get me wrong im a huge Depp fan, but i dont like how everyone says he was the best version of hunter s thompson. But do any of us really know him. I understand he lived with thompson in order to get into the character…but murray’s performance in where the buffalo roam was probably one of the most powerful portrayals of any human being ever let alone of a man who actually existed.

    Definetly deserves to be one of the top 10 most mind blowing films of all time.

    I also want to comment on donnie darko, one of my all time favorite movies

    Not worthy of this list. That was a directed film, it was purposefully abstract, the underlying theme is religion versus science and reality. The whole questioning theme is not present, its just a battle between one man and himself. Meant way more to blow your mind on the writing and directing and not so much on theorys of life.

    ONE LAST THING: you talked about how audio and visually these movies blow your mind and make you think and yet you dont mention score once. American beauty: original score by Thomas newman, the same guy who did shawshank redemtion. Without that score half of the scenes dont hit you and make you think that hard. Music is ten times more important than anyone gives it credit. (sorry i scrore for independant films so i have a bias toward how important it is, but its true)

  • Daniel Harbecke

    I think that what Ian wanted to convey with his list is the sense that there is another “world” or “perspective” outside of the one we normally consider, and in that sense holds up as a list of movies serving “inner travel.” I never imagined he was trying to make a list of the greatest or most thought-provoking movies of all time, and I don’t think he did, either. A lot of people seemed offended that their personal choices for movies that provoked them hadn’t been listed; I saw Ian’s article as a seed to get that discussion going.

    Red Head mentioned that many of the films in the original “mind-blowing” list were sci-fi, but I couldn’t tell by his comment whether he meant science fiction is only “entertainment” – I really hope not.

    To me, real science fiction is all about confronting the human condition through fantastic (often technological) means, but is usually treated as fluff because of space guns, rubber foreheads and cheesy SPFX. These elements are only tangential to what the story is trying to convey.

    Certain episodes of the Twilight Zone are in many ways more science fiction than certain episodes of Star Trek. On that basis, I also think Fight Club or A Clockwork Orange are more science fiction than (blasphemy!) Star Wars (human traits caricatured as aliens/robots, the Creature Cantina are fleeting messages, versus an entirely separate identity operating in your own body). Even movies like Alien(s) or Terminator have passing mention of science fiction themes (existing alongside vastly different imaginings of life, a dour and hopeless future, time travel, et. al.), but the scary monster could just as easily be a relentless human or natural enemy. Science fiction needn’t occur in space.

    One day in the bright shining future, I hope science fiction is differentiated from science fantasy, or plain old fantasy. Isaac Asimov hated the term “sci fi,” which he regarded as mocking of actual science fiction. “Wonder Woman,” he considered, just an adventure program with an electric kangaroo running around in a bathing suit, while we’re still waiting for an adaptation of Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” to come around. Science fiction is something we’re still waiting to truly hear from.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Well said Dan! You hit on a great Carl Sagan quote in defence of science fiction, from his 1974 book Broca’s Brain. He wrote:

    “The greatest human significance of science fiction may be as experiments on the future, as explorations of alternative destinies, as attempts to minimize future shock. This is part of the reason that science fiction has so wide an appeal among young people: it is they who will live the future.”

    “It is my firm view that society on Earth today is well adapted to the Earth of one or two hundred years from now (if we are wise enough or lucky enough to survive that long). We desperately need an exploration of alternative futures, both experimental and conceptual.”

  • Daniel Harbecke


    Sagan mentioned Toffler’s book “Future Shock” in that quote – if you look around, the topics he warned about are present today, particularly “information overload.” It’s getting harder to make decisions because there’s so much data out there, so many opinions, all blending together into a stale buzz. If we’re going to consider “The Next Step” more clearly, we need to be able to move between perspectives for a bigger picture. I think that’s where “Inner Travel” comes in.

  • Sloan

    The Razors Edge is a movie that should be on the list if you are looking for perspective. Its an amazing movie that everyone should watch at least once in their life. Its based off W. Somerset Maugham’s book (The Razors Edge). That movie would defiantly blow your mind.

  • SAllen

    go find Being John Malkovich. Trippy indeed.

  • Christina

    Wristcutters is one of the best that I have seen in a while. You will never forget it once you’ve seen it.

  • Michaela Lola

    sorry it’s waaay late to add but…

    the person who recommended “Bliss” –> Is that from the Peter Carey novel of the same name? ooohhhh!

    has anyone ever seen “Sorry, Haters!” ? NOw, that was insane!

    Ballad of Jack and Rose…you feel so “hollow” after..

    BIRTH was pretty cool too……….

  • Eddie Izzard

    I second:

    1. City of God – definitely great, made me grateful to live in the society I do.

    2. American Psycho – great film, not so mind blowing but dark, hilarious and thought provoking

    and nominate

    Kontroll – bulgarian film about metro ticket inspectors. Sounds dull but is anything but


    Mulholland drive – nope. Way too abstract

  • James Pye

    Anything by David Lynch should be in this list along with the fountain…

  • Paul

    How about “One Hour Photo”? I apologise if this was already mentioned, but I wanted to skip down and add it.

  • sagerball

    The Forest
    What Dreams May Come
    Dreams (kurosowa)
    Twelve Monkeys

  • Jackie Lynne

    I love watching a great mind-blowing movie,and I know one that was “at the end” mind blowing……The Sixth Sense……But when it was over it all made sense and for some reason,I never felt the urge to watch it again!Maybe that’s the reason it is not listed on your list!I truly hope (if there are any “Genuine” mindblowers being created)that you will update as time goes on!I really enjoyed this list of yours,Thanks

  • Joe

    Hey Great list, I just viewed a short documentary called The Red Pill and it really blew my mind. It is truly a must see for all and it is available free to view or download at

  • Glen

    Primer was especially memorable since it was made on a shoe string budget of around $8000 (yes, that is "thousand") and a hand held video camera. It re-infoces that it is ALWAYS about the story.

  • Glen

    Glad to see you added 12 Monkeys. While not exactly in the Mind-blowing category, it was a great trip and Bruce Willis pulled it off well.

  • Alphabet

    EL TOPO!
    … and then The Holy Mountain.

    Jodorowsky's pretty out there, but the stuff he's examining is epic, mind-blowin indeed.

    great list!

  • danno

    when i saw open your eyes just after vanilla sky, it made me think that every choice they made in vanilla sky made the movie worse. open your eyes. yes.

  • roldanfsmith

    A few more contemporaries to consider…

    -Across The Universe

    -Into The Wild

    -What The Bleep Do We Know Anyway? (Down the Rabbit Hole)

    -Angels In America

    -RENT (yes, the musical… amazing)


    -Seven Years In Tibet

    -Life Without Me

    -Legends of the Fall

    … Enjoy!

  • dellens

    gummo and kids

  • Louie

    I don't feel like reading through all 11 pages of comments but has anyone mentioned the Canadian Independent film, Cube? There are a few mind blowing moments in there and then a bitter sweet ending.

  • italkfilm

    Yeah Clockwork Orange should be up there or maybe even Soylent Green . Not a bad list at all I would say.

  • Athena

    Why are they only American films I am sure that there are other films equal or better to these. Also I loved What Dreams May Come

  • redneckjedi


  • Liza

    Seriously, that movie is mind blowing.

  • chibi

    THANK YOU!! I was thinking exactly the same thing. The first scene alone is enough to make anyone think.

  • Erin

    The Man From Earth: both the story and direction were very thought-provoking.

  • Lyla

    What about Being John Malkovich? That movie is pretty fucked up, and has a lot to say about the mind, perception ,and reality.

  • Malik

    eXistenZ (1999) seriously look it upl Low budget. Great movie. Better than the matrix.

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  • Blowhard

    Movies that blow – Donnie Darko, I heart Huckabees, Truman Show

  • Henzo


    • Jia

      V for Vendetta was alright.

      Equilibrium was like a watered-down, unconvincing 1984.

  • RJ44

    Clockwork Orange????

  • Andrei

    The list is great. I totally see where you're going with all these movies and yes, I've seen 'em all.

    I would also recommend Zeitgest Addendum (not the first one) and Koyaanisquatsi. Excellent blog you've got going on here.

  • nate

    we can all list some movies that didnt make this 10… hell i'll list a few now! trainspotting, clockwork orange, formula 54(densel), blow, vanilla sky, the number 23, hell! i dont wanna bore ya but still i think my list would be a top 20.

  • Petra111

    Love all those films too! I recently purchased The Lives Of Others, a German film, set before Glasnost and made it my top 5! Bought a film the other day called Persepolis! Oh and The Darjeeling Limited was great, with Owen Wilson, Angelica Houston, Adrian Brody and other great actors! Liked the music too! Great fun!

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  • mike

    None of the aforementioned films hold a candle to Eraser Head by David Lynch

  • tori

    Loved all those movies. would definitely add Jacob's Latter… brillant movie

  • triumph

    What about "Dream with the Fishes", the trippy scenes seemed very real.

  • potsie

    Being John Malkovich. Absolutely.

  • sam

    The movies 12 monkeys and They Live should definately be on this list, Maybe even Solaris.

    But These documentaries will expose the dark secrets many mind blowing movies allude to. All of these can be found on Google video. Watching these is taking the red pill unless your not very smart or corrupted.

    Why we Fight
    The Money Masters: How Internatioanl bankers gained control of America
    Money as Debt
    The Century of the Self (4part BBC series)
    The Trap (3 part BBC series)
    U.S. Foreign Policy: Secret Wars of the CIA (documentary compilation)

    this websight has a links to 30 documentaries that are mostly pretty mind blowing.

    also on youtube JFK’s secret societys speech

    your welcome

  • Ana Banana

    Okay, SO. I totally agree with the first person who commented this!
    + “What Dreams May Come” is an amazing film.

    I haven’t seen all of these but, The Truman Show definitely deserves #1! :)

  • james

    I would have to say wanted because if we unlocked all of our brains potential nothing would be impossibe – even bending bullets and slowing them down with your mind.

  • 3.1416

    PI, one of the greatest film ever, and very mind blowing

  • tory

    i know i’m a bit late on this, but i just watched “the tracey fragments” today, and i dug it quite a bit. cool concept and i won’t lie, i love me some ellen page.
    and while i love different opinions, taking movies as seriously as some of the people that commented seem to doesn’t even sound fun. but i guess not everyone can be bothered to have fun all the time? whatev, maybe i’ll have less wrinkles :)
    good list!

  • owen suppes

    Some of these movies try to fictionalize and or comment on the world not offered in the popular media. They may help to process some of the hard to digest truths that swim casually and dangerously by, but at the end of the day, the truth is your blue pill. And your mind will find it infinitely more challenging to accept it. You might already know that you live in two worlds, one offered to you by global media outlets, which disseminate throughout every facet of your cultural experience, and a second world, the one you suspect exists. Do i sound like Morpheus? I recommend you take on some of the most explosive material out there, or do you want your mind blown? Here’s my list, and I challenge anyone to supply a better one. Try “America Freedom to Fascism”, “The Money Masters”, “Money as Debt”, “Zeitgeist”, “Loose Change 2″, “Why We Fight”, “Terror Storm”, “911 Mysteries”, “Earthlings”, “The Obama Deception”. all found on Youtube.

    And please, unless you’ve watched these Docs and fact checked each one, don’t comment on them. We all have a responsibility as an intelligent citizenry to know our world. Take your responsibility seriously. This is your blue pill. It will change everything you know about your world, and your life will change forever. Something none of the movies mentioned in the above article can accomplish. Your journey into the world you suspect exists starts with these Docs and you’re willingness to research on your own. Your welcome. Owen

  • Brooks

    Great list!

    I scrolled through most of the comments (so many of them) and only here at the bottom did I see Koyaanisquatsi posted Dec. 16, 2008, by Andrei. By far the most mind-blowing, life-changing red-pill movie mentioned. Personally, I’m applaud your omission of Aronofsky movies from your list. I’ve seen Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and both were simply painful to watch in every way. Pi is a crock, and I just plain didn’t like Requiem.

    But Koyaanisquatsi. Everyone MUST see it. Phillip Glass, sublime cinematography. Took years to make (much longer than the Planet Earth series, which is also good). Beautiful shots, and it will definitely tell you a story and make you see the industrialized world in a different light!

  • Patty

    Cool List. I love most of these films and will have to check out the ones I haven’t seen.
    Scolling down I didn’t see American Pshyco. Was a fun and sick mind blow.

  • Ryan

    Waking Ned Devine. A classic no one knows about.

  • John Leon

    was Brave Heart not good enough?

  • virgil xenophon

    A few more little known films:

    1) “Liquid Sky”–a Sci-Fi comment on the NYC performance art mis en scene, drugs and UFOs w. award-winning musical score by a Frenchman whose name I can’t remember (B&W)

    2) “The Quiet Earth” –a NZ Sci-Fi look at a scientific endeavor (think “Sky-Net”) gone wrong, with the result of sending everyone off Earth to parts of the Universe unk,, except for a fortunate/unfortunate few, with the resultant social dynamics that follows. The ending is a visual mind blower.

    3) “SLC Punk” -Hilarious send up of poseur drug culture of Salt Lake City in 70-80s w. really penetrating social introspection.

    4) “Roller-ball” –Superficial mindless eye-candy action movie w. James Caan on one level, but a really subtly deep foretelling of the direction modern society is taking on another.

    5) THX1138–Steven Spielburg’s first effort as UCLA film grad. Again, another deeply disturbing commentary on the direction of modern societies evolution projected to it’s logical conclusion into the future.

    6) “On the Beach”–(The original) A classic that is thought dated and in B&W, but the haunting possibilities ring true nonetheless and emotional impact still powerful.

    7) “Seconds” –Haunting and deeply disturbing 1966 effort by Rock Hudson playing an unacustomed role as a man seeking a second chance in life and the utterly horrifying consequences of his acting upon his regret upon being given it. Was unavail for many years until recently.

    8) “A Clock-work Orange” –Especially if you viewed it in the original and you were in your early 20s.

    9) “Doppleganger” (US title: Journey to the other side of the Sun) 1970 Sci-Fi look at parallel universes within our own.

    10) “Andromeda Strain”—because it’s still a possibility, still holds up theatrically, and needs to be seen as a cautionary tale.


  • virgil xenophon

    ADDENDUM: Honorable mention:

    11) “The Omega Man” Post nuke apocalyptic last “unaffected” man on Earth study–marred only by unfortunate early PC tendencies. (e.g., “You messed it up, Maannn!”)

    12) “Soylent Green”–previously mentioned here view of future dystopian society

    13) “2001-A Space Odyssey” Iconic Sci-Film boring as hell to sit through but fascinating at same time and changed much about how we view the future and world around us.

    14.) “Easy Rider” DRUGS! go mainstream! Changed mainstream America’s attitude about Drugs–for better or worse. Mainly, left impression it was unstoppable movement participated in by harmless, introspectively “cool” people and only opposed by unthinking, racist red-necks.

    15) “Wild Angels” 1966 Over-the-top played straight hilarious (to me) biker precursor to Easy Rider w. Bruce Durn at his twisted best.

  • virgil xenophon

    And Five More:

    16) “Five Easy Pieces”– MADE Jack’s rep.and, combined w. Easy Rider gave him street cred. Encouraged public’s cynical take on American culture.

    17) “Three Days of the Condor”–Great movie qua movie–one of several of it’s time and genre, seemed to cinch and solidify public’s distrust of Govt.

    18) “Appocolypse Now”–mentioned previously here–iconic–Great movie for good AND ill–can’t talk about Vietnam without referencing it somehow, someway.

    19) “The Beast” (or later,”The Beast of War”) 1988 many-layered anti-war flic about monomaniacal Soviet tank commander who came of age in WWII struggle against Nazis and whose values were shaped by that, and his lost tank & crew–who is his own Ahab and whale combined–being pursued by relentless Afghan Mujahadeen.
    EXTREMELY realistic and emotionally telling on many levels. Psychologically intensifies and draws you in as film progresses.

    20) “The Nines” TOTALLY FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT!–Would have been in top ten or #11!
    Mentioned here earlier–a psychological thriller about multiple universes/possibilities. GO SEE!!

  • Dave Gifford

    I definitely agree about adding:
    Being John Malkovich
    12 Monkeys

    Also good mentions:
    Groundhog Day
    What Dreams May Come
    6th Sense

    I don’t think anyone mentioned Pleasantville, but I remember that being similar to Truman Show, mind-blowing, thought-provoking and well-made. I don’t actually agree with its message, but I thought it should get some kind of honorable mention at least.

  • Matt

    I agree with most of the films here. Great list and additions from everybody. What about Wall-E!? Just watched it, I think it’s pretty awesome for a kids flick.

  • hipmonkey

    I loved all these movies, and would have added Midnight Cowboy, but I think they are all summed up nicely in the non-mainstream movie ZeitGeist. What do you think?

  • Clark

    Great list. I especially like the reference to The Republic in the Waking Life description.

  • Jann Burner

    What about El Topo, Performance, Juliet of The Spirits. All great films from the ’60′s. Remember the ’60′s? That was when everyone was IN THE FILM and didn’t simply attend films.

  • Chris

    Cool, couple movies there I need to check out.

    How about Man Bites Dog. Forget Tarantino, its the most cutting social film against the glorification of violence ever.

    As for El Topo, I agree with you Jann that is a mindf*ck.

  • Joe

    Personally, one movie that changed the way i think is The Number 23. After watching that movie I found myself adding together almost every number i saw, counting the letters in my name, birthdate, social security, and to this day one of my friends and I will point out that a number will add to 23 if added together, no matter where it is be it on license plates, an address, a phone number or whatever and I watched the movie when it first came out.

  • Matt

    My top ten mindblowing movies (no particular order)

    1) 2001: A Space Odyssey
    2) 2010: The Year We Make Contact
    3) Event Horizon
    4) The Fountain
    5) Contact
    6) Solaris
    7) Sunshine
    8) Naked Lunch
    9) eXistenZ
    10) Donnie Darko

  • Veronika

    The Experiment

  • Uhhh

    Pretty good list but Across the Universe and RENT are you serious….

  • Mark H

    I’m surprised that American Psycho didn’t make the cut. Still a fantastic list!


    Awesome list with no time wasters. Ghost in The Shell could have made it here also. The Matrix is based on this movie and some scenes are copied frame by frame. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece I highly recommend it.

  • OldeTimeyBeard

    Rotoscoping is not exactly ground breaking….It was invented by Max Fleischer (Popeye, Betty Boop) who mounted a projectore into a drafting table so he could animate over live motion footage. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a Prime example of classic Rotoscoping. Waking Life was ground breaking insofar as it used digital rotoscoping for the first time, and animated EVERYTHING in the frame.

    Funnily enough you left the other two important Linklater films off this list. Slacker, is an early film where the Camera moves from person to person as the interact in Austin Texas and stars many of the same local Characters seen in Waking Life. Slacker was shown in a Buddhism Class I took and we were required to write papers about Buddhist themes within the movie. It’s quite deep really.

    A Scanner Darkly is Linklater’s Rotoscoped version of a Philip K. Dick novel about a new Drug which causes Mental breaks and the Undercover cop who ends up splitting his brain in half, becoming both a junkie Dealer and an Undercover Agent who becomes suspicious of himself and is sacrificed by his colleagues to discover the source of the mysterious drug destroying Humanity. Here Linklater uses to rotoscoping to bring to life Dick’s vision of a future where cops wear suits which hide their true identity from each other, and Drug users see wild visions of men morphing into insects.

    Hard to believe all three of these films are made by the same man who made Dazed and Confused.

  • Tommy

    Donny Darko… Great Movie. Should be #1.

  • RobertM

    Where’s “Memento”? Where’s “Crash”?

    • JC

      and eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

  • Daniel

    haha i love how I’ve seen – and ranted – about most of these movies

  • Andrew

    ” What if you were chained in a dimly-lit cave your whole life where you saw only shadows of real things reflected on its back wall? ”
    this is from the “Allegory of the Cave”, also known as Myth of the Cave or Metaphor of the Cave, by Greek philosopher Plato …

  • cordwainer

    Don’t forget two of the most mind-blowing movies from a little longer ago:

    “The Stunt Man” starring Peter O’Toole (1980) – a little hard to find, but it will kick your head around. People either love it or hate it.

    “Duel” starring Dennis Weaver (1971) – Steven Spielberg’s directing debut. If it doesn’t get your adrenalin pumping, nothing will.

  • yun

    awesome list. have watched 6 of the 10 films so hopefully i’ll catch on with the other 4 soon.

  • wolfie

    Interesting list .Got to watch these some day.
    By the way, I think “The Butterfly Efffect” should be mentioned too. Rerouted my whole brain.

  • Kat

    I would have included Requiem for a Dream on this list but otherwise a great list! Donnie Darko is one of my favorite movies

  • Duck

    I think Donnie Darko shouldn’t be on the list.

    Should be:
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – guy meets girl, guy realizes they met before and erased each other from their memories
    Videodrome – snuff films are made cause death; but remember, violence is still erotic
    Being John Malkovich – they find a way to go into an actor’s body, need I go on?
    Funny Games – two teens torture a family for fun with hilarity and existentialist suggestion
    Slaughterhouse-Five – a normal World War II veteran’s life is flashed by in random order, as he has learned past the illusion of time

  • Torkhum

    Matrix. How does it know what chicken taste like?

  • Paul

    What about “Equilibrium”? Same message as the Matrix, but better.

    • Ian MacKenzie

      I liked this movie better when it was called “Farenheiht 451″ and “1984.”

      • Brendan

        BAM! You win at things.

  • Rose

    Ok, so not on the same dark mind-twisting list as these ones, but still its one to make you think about our relationships with one another and at least it gives you the warm fuzzies! – Amelie. I love this film – the innocence, the good-will and the thinking outside the square arty stuff.

  • c smith

    ” i heart huckabees” was an absolute piece of shit and should not be included on any list unless that list is of movies that are a complete and total waste of time

  • Persephone

    Vanilla Sky is epic.

  • ahmed

    “a clockwork orange” is not on this list; this fact invalidates this list.

  • Brendan

    Good list, but I could never understand why everyone always gets so excited about “I Heart Huckabees”. It skims the surface of an interesting idea, but never goes anywhere. The train of thought is not followed, and the movie simply ends up being a vague CliffNotes for philosophy,

    Also, GREAT to see Network up there. Holy God was THAT a movie!

  • Maxwell GS

    I mean, I agree with Ahmed about A Clockwork Orange not being on this list.

  • Matthew

    I agree with most of these I would have to add Pi along with Requiem of a Dream, both very great movies.

  • Steph

    i agree with almost everybody :-) Requiem, clockwork orange, amelie, eternal sunshine, should ALL be on this list! also, 21 grams, blew my mind apart (once i watched it a 2nd time n understood what was going on haha), and DEFINATELY MEMENTO should rank in the top 3!!! brilliant stuff!!! but the best movie in todays times, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. Its says what it needs to say in such an awsome way. 10/10. Off the topic now, but the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, DEAD SILENCE. I still have trouble sleeping haha. but all in all, good list. still a couple movies on there I have to see. peace

  • Mr. Twenty Twenty


    Great post, every single one of those listed both in the article and in the comments that I have seen has been inspirational, and life transforming.

    Your focus on “essential truth” here rocks, it’s what we need more of in this world.

    If you are ever in Pennsylvania, look us up.

    Mr. Twenty Twenty

    The guy who really did CHANGE his name to the number of perfect vision, because YOU living YOUR VISION matters.

  • canthus13

    Trainspotting. The toilet scene was EPIC.

  • Stef

    trainspotting toiletscene was indeed epic.
    But I would recommend: Christiane F – Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo.
    This is an epic story about heroin and youth adiction.

    or at least Persepolis..
    Some high class indie films! Check these out!

  • tani

    the movie “Cube” should be on the list. i suggest you watch it.

  • Spuddfluff

    Trainspotting doesn’t make it onto the list?

    Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed- interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing sprit- crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing you last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?

  • Nilas

    Truly stupid comments on this post. Have you ever watched all the films on the list before you start correcting it is if what the stupidest list ever? As these kinda posts are subjective you can not treat it as if was an objective post and take it for granted that your film should be in it.

    I think it is a nice list. I haven’t seen all the movies, but the ones I have I think fit well there. As other have mentioned, Eternal Sunshine would also fit very well in it. But then again what about 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange, Videodrome and so on. A complete list is impossible.

  • cordwainer

    Um, Nilas…..Did you read the sentences at the end of the article? They say, “What do you think of the films in the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!”

    So, we’re sharing our thoughts, as the author asked us to – and he didn’t say, “only if you agree with me.” This is not some huge group merely insulting the author or the films he chose, or seriously enraged their favorite is not in the list. Most of the posters are polite and enthusiastic.

    By the way did you look at the date of the article? May 27….2008. Not this year. Last year. This discussion has been going on for almost and year and a half. 384 comments total. Did you read all of them, or did you decide they were “stupid” on the basis of the most recent, visible ones only?

    In a way, this has become an informal, but ongoing, Internet discussion of “blow your mind” movies in general. What you term “stupid” is the very thing that jump-starts a potentially satisfying conversation: passionate sharing and debate, exploring new possibilities, enriching everyone’s experience by expanding the sum total of their knowledge.

    You’ve also overlooked a simple point: the more comments people make, the more movies they mention, the closer they get to something that IS in essence the “impossible” complete list you poo-pooed. Already seen all the films on the original list? Wishing you had more possibilities? Now you do! Anybody counted yet? Eventually it MAY be a 100-item list.

    This is a good thing, OK? Learning about MORE good movies is something commenters seem to be enjoying here. The majority seem to understand that. But instead of joining in the fun, you call people’s comments, “Truly stupid”.

    If the author is annoyed by the comments, or thinks they are out of line, or inappropriate, I would wager he is capable of saying so himself, or having them deleted. I would also bet that, unlike you, he can express himself coherently, using proper grammar, without typos….and that he can do so politely and in an adult manner.

    You, also, are entitled to your opinion, and I sincerely agree with and support your right to say anything you wish about the subject of this discussion: the movies on the list and related films.

    However – in my opinion, of course, not speaking for anyone else here – you are not entitled to call other commenters’ contributions “stupid”. You have no inalienable right to be rude.

    I’d like to say thank you to everyone, and the author, for sharing some movies I’d never heard of, and which I got tremendous pleasure out of watching. Can’t wait to see what suggestions show up in my inbox next!

    All best,

  • Thomas

    Where is K-PAX ???

  • Molly

    these movies are all great-only 10 on the list so they can get em all.
    I totally agree that being john malkovitch should be on there. also, a new one,
    INK. Check this movie out if you like the list. Brilliant independent film talking about human nature, our choices, regret, redemption, and forgiveness. So many great underlying messages that pull at the heart strings as well as the mind.

  • athearchistentialist

    Mind-blowing movies? I’ve seen most of these, and I would have to agree. There are some anime series that I am beginning to discover that would absolutely blow your collective consciousnesses, but they are not “films” so to speak. Elfen Lied, FLCL, Serial Experiments Lain, Cowboy Bebop, Big O, and Neon Genesis Evangelion to name a few. Perhaps .hack//sign, but I haven’t seen all of them yet.

  • Rob

    The fact that this list doesn’t include Short Circuit 2 completely invalidates it!

    Both you, and your list sir, are wrong!

  • jake

    they should have done 12 monkeys instead of brazil. its the same director and more “mind blowing”

  • Anson

    Dead Man’s Shoes, its a British film from a few years ago. Extremely intense but absolutely epic! watch it!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cards

    “The Nines” – turned myhead inside out

  • Timothy Cahill

    Jacob’s Ladder.

  • Devin | Travel To Grow

    yes! That movie rocked!

  • Parker

    I think they named the character Truman because he was the only “true person” in the movie. While everyone was telling him one thing, he knew deep down inside that it wasnt right…and even risked death in the sea (which was his greatest fear) to find the truth.

  • Roxx

    The movie “Renegade” could easily replace any of the movies on this list. I say that with zero insult to this list, renegade is just that good. Don’t let the movie jacket fool you, it is a mind blowing film. It has the best cinematic representaion of an authentic psychedelic experince I have ever seen. And the movie is spiritually, psychologically and emotionally moving. Please watch it now. You’re welcome and thanks to everyone’s great recomendations.

  • Bandit a la mode

    At spots 11, 12 and 13. This is a top 10.

  • sandi

    like the above list. Dinner with Andre must be included somewhere though, its a great one. One flew over the cuckoos nest too, Deerhunter perhaps..just saw The Dead last night with Anjelica Houston, it’s based on the short story by Joyce, really wonderful stuff, ‘better to pass boldly into that other world, than fade and wither dismally with age’.

  • Nomadic Chick

    Another good one is Apocalypse Now. That damn movie does your head in. Kinda like LSD.

  • Neil J Lloyd

    Good list, maybe need to make it 20…

    and include Memento, Raise the Red Lantern, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Pan’s Labyrinth, Gods and Monsters, Being John Malkovich, Pi, Girl Interrupted, V for Vendetta and hmmm, I can’t decide on the 20th….

  • FatimaZ

    Your list comprises some of my favorites but you should watch Gattaca if you haven’t already. The movie is about a complex dystopia where genetic make up determines ppls futures.

  • Rae

    I was hoping someone already pointed this out. I haven’t seen the movie, it might be rather good, but the article sure sounded pretentious.

  • Kaycee

    I’ve seen a movie from the same director of Requiem for a Dream that I feel you ought to see “The Fountain”, you might agree It will exceedingly go further than you colud expect. Enjoy

  • Maxwell

    The Matrix was definitely a wake up call and its creators did a masterful job highlighting how oblivious the masses are to the various elements in society that’s trying to control their every thoughts.
    Whenever I go one of those “Shaman like” journeys — “with assistance” (wink, wink) — the blinders immediately come off and I see TRUE reality, and I’m able to break away from the machine’s (society’s) limitations (or boundaries) so to speak — and travel to parts unknown. That’s why I reject all notions of “organized” religion and I steer clear of mass media (Idiot box) rubbish. So when “creative” entertainment shows up that I connect with, I’m more than happy to take a peek. :-)

    Happy explorations!!

  • Ed M

    Donny Darko is overrated and should not be on this list.

  • Afrosmokes

    The most mind blowing film of all time. 2001: A space odyssey.

  • Snarky

    LOL : “Where’s K-Pax?!?”

    Stranger than Fiction belongs in the discussion. An amazing, underrated, and beautiful movie.

    Perfume (The Story of a Murderer) – Long, disturbing, but mind blowing.

  • Macroscotic

    When it comes to including/excluding movies for these types of lists I believe it is important to remember that what we are judging are films. So as a purist I would disqualify any movie no matter how brilliant that was an adaptation of a earlier work (i.e. novel, short story ,etc.) This would then not only be a list of original works containing challenging and thought-provoking(twisting?) themes but films crafted with a unique cinematic dynamic or intensity in its delivery of those themes. 2001, Trainspotting, Fight club, undeniably great films, but not created originally for the screen. Memento, with it’s deconstructed/reverse narrative, Natural Born Killers with it’s channel flipping editing, and perhaps not John Malkovich but another Charlie Kaufman penned script (ironically titled) Adaptation where the screenwriter himself becomes a character in his own movie, these are the films that nudge the envelope, challenge the mind and the senses. But that’s just me. Truth be told, I think every suggestion had merit and made it clear I have some viewing catch-up to do. K-Pax? Ciao!

  • shawn

    ‘Watchmen’ always makes me think. it would be on my list.

  • Mo

    I’ve seen a fair few of those films and they are mind opening films,

    Here’s an alternative 10 to go with them…

    The Kite Runner
    Shawshank Redemption
    Pay It Forward
    12 Angry Men
    Missisippi Burning
    Vanilla Sky
    Total Recall
    The Usual Suspects
    The Third Man
    The Dead Zone

  • shahin

    mo- i’ve read kite runner, its beautiful.

  • Heather

    I would have to say that Truman Show and American beauty are a couple of the best….. but some other cool ones are…. **Vanilla Sky ** Cider house Rules **Five people you meet in heaven **ROCKY HORROR lol (had to) **Big Fish **Powder **Eternal sunshine (I think that’s the name..) **Pans Labyrinth**Edward Scissorhands** Life is Beautiful

  • kosa

    its “Eternal Sunshine Of Spotless Mind

  • Tim

    Equilibrium.. certain parts of this movie are well over the top (but great), but a population controlled by a drug that removes emotion gives a slightly different look and makes you wonder, this could happen one day

  • Erika Awakening

    Wow, a kindred spirit blog! I have been writing about a lot of these movies, too.

    You did a great job on your compilation.

    Now we need to wake everyone up to the truth: we live in a Matrix of our own making, and that means we do indeed have the power to save the world …

    through the power of our minds :)

    Erika Awakening

  • Redmond

    Here’s a few more movies to look into:

    eXistenZ (makes the matrix look like child’s play same year I think)
    Jacobs Ladder
    Memento(more mainstream and well known)
    A Scanner Darkly
    The Fountain

  • db

    Seven pounds
    benjamin button
    the sixth sense
    Goodwill hunting
    blue gold

  • Rishad

    check City of God & Amores perros

  • Aldo

    I mean come on! Some of them are not certainly bad, but what kind of a lame list is this?! This is not mind-blowing at all! The People who made that list and the ones who agree with it, definitely gotta watch more, and more good, movies.

  • http://gtr dave


  • not-me

    Shutter Island is def. a bind-flowing film, should be on the list

  • j

    Rotoscoping was NOT “groundbreaking”… the technique was perfected by Fleischer studios all the back in the 20′s.

  • stephen

    shutter island is only a good movie if you’ve never seen memento, seeing that it’s pretty much a ripoff.

  • Valerie

    I really enjoyed your list. I like all those movies as well. The ones I would like to add (that others haven’t already) would be: Atonement, The Shinning, MARTYRS, Synecdoche, New York. I’ll add more later if I think of any.

  • Valerie

    Here are a few more that I thought of that I also enjoyed.
    primal fear (twist)
    late for dinner (time travel)
    the descent (was it all real or not?)
    The mist (my fav stephen king by FAR)

  • ricky

    i think all jason reitman’s films are mind -blowing. up in the air, thank you for smoking, and juno.

  • jess

    Triangle, and inception should definately be on this list.

    • Andrew

      Inception is nothing more then an average wannabe “intellectual” action movie. Although, it was a good movie in the action category, it does not take that much thinking to get the entire film and the entire concept is rather linear. So no… it definitely does not belong on the list.

  • Swansend

    I do not know if ‘The Ward’ from 2010 was mentioned but definitely worthy.

  • JingoisticJengaBlock

    No Groundhog day? : (

  • JingoisticJengaBlock

    Also, Alejandro Jodorowsky movies (“The Holy Mountain”, “El Topo”). Probably as close to an LSD trip in a movie as you can get. 

  • Rami En Ligne

    AWSOME films, all of us !

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