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Films that Change the World

Bayou Bennett - Monday, January 16, 2017

How Films Change the World By Mark Salcido

Cinema has been a part of world culture since the first reel was produced and a bet was made (interesting part of history).  This art has affected many people’s lives in many different ways that would leave lasting impressions, for better or for worse. When a film is made, the people behind it would like to make a statement that could challenge, inspire, and thoroughly entertain them in a way that could ripple across to others in a similar manner close to the theory of the Butterfly Effect. Let’s go down this rabbit hole of causality and see if, and how, cinema has changed the world. One of the key effects that the world of cinema can have is making social awareness, political ideas, and decision making more easily digestible for the audience.

One example is in the case of 1991’s ‘JFK’. The film, directed by Oliver Stone, opens the door of conspiracy theories in regards to the JFK assassination that led to the creation of the Records Collection Act of 1992, as well as assembling the U.S Assassination Records Review Board. This allowed a greater governmental transparency and better access to information for the public.

Two movies come to mind when the art of film brings social awareness on topics not regularly discussed.  ‘Philadelphia’, released in 1993, was the first mainstream film to acknowledge HIV/AIDS and explore the issues related to homosexuality and homophobia. It brought education to the audience about the disease and helped the discrimination of homosexuality no longer become a hushed topic.

2004’s ‘Hotel Rwanda’ is another case of social awareness brought to the forefront of the masses by telling the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina housing a thousand Tutsi refugees during the struggle with the Hutu militia. This tragedy happened in 1994, with little to no coverage from the American media. When the film was released with wide acclaim from critics, it gave the story the recognition that it deserved.

Some change can be felt on a marketing and consumer scale as well. One that you might never think of this way is the film ‘Bambi’. Think about it. Poor little Bambi was left an orphan when his mother was killed by a faceless hunter. When the film was released in 1942, hunting had dropped fifty percent when hunters no longer had a desire for pelts that reminded them of the cute and cuddly creature.

Another example of marketing that accidently benefited certain companies was in Alexander Payne’s ‘Sideways’, which was released in 2004. In the movie, Paul Giamatti’s character spends a lot of time in the story binging on red wine and Pinot noir. This caused a pretty significant impact on wine trades as previously popular Merlot sales dropped two percent in the U.S, and Pinot noir sales jumped to a surprising sixteen percent.

With any good thought provoking film, the theology aspect of it can open one’s mind to ideas of what reality is and how that can affect people later down the line. A case can be made for 2004’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and 2010’s ‘Inception’. In both films, the theology of how the mind functions is brought in when these questions are presented: “if you could erase someone from your memory would you?” and “what if you could steal secrets from someone’s subconscious?” In keeping with these topics, a neuroscience PhD student, by the name of Steve Ramirez, tried a completely bonkers experiment that successfully implanted memories in the brains of mice. Ramirez went on to say that he was influenced by ‘Inception’, ‘Total Recall’ (1990), ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, and ‘Memento’ (2000).


Before the film ‘Star Wars’ was released, Stanley Kubrick’s 1968’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was blowing the minds of people with the idea of how space exploration might look. With a simple minimalistic flare, the film helped predict modern technology. In the film, the astronauts enjoy a hearty serving of space food while enjoying their entertainment on what looks to be a tablet device that is similar to what we use today made by companies like Samsung and Apple.

Not all changes that film brings are good. Proven examples of this are movies such as ‘The Birth of a Nation’ (1915), which saw a rise in Ku Klux Klan activities, the introductions of real life fight clubs due to the film ‘Fight Club’ (1999), inspiration for people to play Russian Roulette because they saw it in ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), and teenagers that would lay in the middle of the road while cars barely pass by were displayed in ‘The Program’ (1993).

There are so many formats out there to help inspire and change the future.  They can range from art to speeches and protest, to simple acts of kindness. Film is the type of art that will be here as long as a story needs to be told. New, boundary-breaking ideas are being written and produced on a frequent basis. Only time will tell what these ideas might be and how they may affect the world of cinema its audience.


Dream Team Directors tend to work on films that change the world in some way. You can be a part of the change and enter their contest. Watch the rules here:


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