Nihilistic Cinema

by Jason K.

Created 03/25/13

Edit List

Nihilism - no meaning or purpose to life. No morals. Awesome Cinema. I wanted this list to include films with little to no happiness or bright spots. Every character is either immoral or is at least in the shadows. A good example would be Detour (1945) or pretty much any other noir for that matter. Please recommend any films that may apply that I've skipped over.


  • By Brock Pace
    May 11, 2013
    02:52 AM

    You should put Jubilee on the list. It's very similar to A Clockwork Orange, and is another dystopian future movie without morals.
    • By Eric Edelin
      May 13, 2013
      06:24 PM

      Definitely, "Jubilee"
  • By Chet E.
    May 12, 2013
    09:38 AM

    Great list - be ready to follow each of these with a comedy. I would add THE FRIEND'S OF EDDIE COYLE to this grim line up.
  • By Robotocles
    May 14, 2013
    07:34 PM

  • By Brock Pace
    May 20, 2013
    09:48 AM

    Is "Virgin Spring" really nihilistic? The whole purpose of the story was to emphasize redemption. In the end when (spoiler) the water spurts out of the hole behind her head, that was supposed to symbolize baptism or a cleansing of his sins. If anything I'd say that's quite the opposite of having no purpose. But thanks again for a great list and including my recommendation in there. I actually haven't seen "Jubilee" yet, despite the fact that it sits in my collection. I only watched the trailer and read the synopsis and thought that it seemed nihilistic and reminded me of "A Clockwork Orange".
  • By Anthony Stevens
    May 22, 2013
    02:23 PM

    Amoral or immoral characters tend to be the most interesting. You may want to include Sword of Doom in this as well. Great samurai flick and not just because Toshiro Mifune happens to show in it around the middle.
    • By David M.
      May 26, 2013
      12:33 AM

      Yes, Sword of Doom would be a perfect addition to this list.
  • By Chris Boehm
    June 05, 2013
    02:16 PM

    I'm not crazy about it, but you may want to add "The Night Porter" as well.
    July 09, 2013
    03:14 PM

    Great list Amanda!
  • By Kris Carrillo
    July 22, 2013
    02:31 AM

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was very nihilistic.
  • By TeeWhy Li
    August 26, 2013
    11:54 PM

    Decent list...You shouldn't of excluded breathless though, the very basis of that movie is the critique of nihilism in french modern society.
  • By Adam Piercy
    October 01, 2013
    02:58 PM

    I found Dazed and Confused to be a rather bleak film.
  • By D Blue
    October 28, 2013
    12:36 PM

    The Man Who Wasn't There!
  • By Andrew_Boone
    November 14, 2013
    01:22 AM

    "Europa" by Von Trier.
  • By Peter_Wilson
    January 05, 2014
    08:34 PM

    Wow, great list! -- -- Check out some of mine if you find the time.
  • By Peter_Wilson
    January 11, 2014
    10:16 AM

    Jason K. I've got a list Your Favorite Criterion Edition, which is a compilation of members favorite criterion edition. Feel free to participate.
  • By Yasir Aly
    January 22, 2014
    03:27 AM

    Great list. But you have excluded "Irreversible". Though it is in fact criticism of nihilism but boy, is that movie bleak. Also, i believe french classic like "going places" should have been here. "Two lane black top" is missing from here. Also, There's this movie "mother and the whore" by jean eustach, its a criticism of nihilism but exceptional in exploratory themes of depths of the school of thought as a whole.
  • By Peter_Wilson
    February 10, 2014
    10:31 PM

    Kurosawa's "Dodes'ka-den" and "The Lower Depths" are a couple of nice ones. The ending of the later is nihilism to the core.
  • By Barry Moore
    June 05, 2014
    07:07 PM

    I would like to suggest Robert Bresson's bleak 1977 drama 'Le diable probablement' and Dennis Hopper's scathing 1980 masterpiece 'Out of the Blue' as additions to this category. Both of these major films offer very little if any hope for finding meaning and purpose in the human experience.
  • By wray
    August 12, 2014
    09:10 PM

    I fully believe Au hasard Balthazar should be on this list. Every single character in that film is disgusting and awful.
  • By MDHendrickson
    June 15, 2015
    10:51 AM

  • By Quinn
    June 22, 2015
    12:43 AM

    I'd recommend The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. All six characters have baggage, and the viewer gets to see a lot of depressing stuff, to put it lightly.