Written by: Ella
Ever since I was little, hearing the magic words “Shall we put a film on?” has enveloped me in a warm, safe space. Even now at the age of 20, nothing is more soothing, comforting and thought provoking than film.
It's no surprise then that I chose to study film at university, something that put as much fear into me as it did joy. What if I stopped enjoying film when it was work? What if my bubble of safety through film was gone and turned into stressful memories of study? Fortunately, film is way too powerful for that and is still my ultimate escape.
That’s what the healing power of film is all about: escapism. You can find solace in characters that you would never come across in your daily life, because just sometimes a dragon or a 60's London gangster can totally get what you’re going through. The undeniable connection that film provides can be invaluable when you’re going through a hard time and as a self-confessed crybaby, having a connection with a person (all be it a fictional one) where there are no questions asked, no judgements and no explanations needed makes film so special.
But the healing power of film isn’t just about when life gets tough, oh no! Certain films will come into your life and change it forever: the way you think, the way you talk, the way you view the world. Finding a film that challenges or even just a film that’s simply fucking cool can have a huge impact on your well-being. For me personally, the film Withnail and I is that film, as soon as I saw it something clicked. I was in touch with a new sense of humour, a wonderful cynicism contrasted with the hope that things can only go up from here. Finding that special film opens up a world of emotion that you never knew existed and helps you get in touch with parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there.
Not only can watching films help you get to know yourself, it can be brilliant when trying to get to know others. By showing someone a film that means a lot to you, they get to learn a lot about your personality without you having to say a word. After watching, this person may have learnt what makes you laugh or cry, or it could have just provided a handy excuse to snuggle up under a blanket together!
Ella’s top 5 films that have improved my mental health!
1. Withnail and I- My all-time favourite film! With bitingly sharp humour, the two out-of-work actors, who are the heroes of our story, are in a desperate place. But the love/hate relationship that they have with each other proves that with the right help you can get through a tough time and that sometimes you have to put yourself first… plus it's one of the funniest films in the world and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
2. About Time- This film is just plain lovely; it's ultimately fluffy and sweet, perfect if you ever need a comfort film to switch off to. With a host of sweet, funny, flawed characters, About Time is ultimately about making choices and no matter what mood you’re in, putting this film on is never a bad one.
3. True Romance- Who doesn’t love a rom-com Tarantino style? I first watched this film when I was in a whole world of stress and watching it made something click. The disastrous characters and unconditional love between them made me feel less out of control, and most importantly, loved.
4. Amelie- This film is an introvert’s dream; nothing sums up the complex emotions that being an introvert can create quite like Amelie. To me, it serves as a reminder that although you might not want to be in the company of others all the time, the people you love will still be there waiting for you. Sweet, stunningly shot and beautifully told, Amelie serves as reminder that just because you’re an introvert you are not cold, broken or in any way alone.
5. Any of the Harry Potter series- Having grown up with Potter, this is an obvious one. Watching any of the series is like being enveloped in a warm, familiar hug. They tick all of the healing boxes, providing escapism in the fantasy world with all the wonderful magic (someone please take me to Hogwarts right now!) but still deal with complex issues such as loss, isolation and responsibility.