Meditations, Both Quick and Quiet

by Jarred

Created 09/21/12

Edit List

These are some films in the Collection that I have fallen in love with and continue to view again and again, because of the effect they have of growing on you with time, offering up new discoveries and new questions to ask the more you think about them and the more you watch them. They have a special, meditative quality that wants you to keep searching for more over time.

  • Quite possibly one of the most strange and elusive films I, for one, have ever seen. While there are multiple interpretations that can be made as to what it all means, no one can agree on just what exactly is going on in this remarkable, weird, and beautiful film.

  • One of Godard's finest films is a work laden with intellectual references, distinctly artful cinematic imagery & symbolism, and a kaleidoscopic, freewheelin' post-modern plot line. Yet for all its frustrations and freestyle filmmaking, gems continue to be found with repeated viewings over time.

  • Fellini is of course one of the most rich and rewarding filmmakers, and his masterpiece doesn't fall short in being a film that commands attention, draws upon its own kinetic energy, and offers up something new to think about with every passing second of screen time.

  • Yes, Polanski's strangest, and often most shrugged-off, film is on this list. Because of its references to Theatre of the Absurd, avant-garde postmodernism, theories of the imposition of the other, alienation in modern society, power struggles, and so much more, it is an obscure, quirky little film that sticks strongly in the brain and doesn't give up until watching it again and seeing more between the lines.

  • Any Tarkovsky film offers a myriad of topics to think about, usually falling under the branches of aesthetics, religion, and science, but sub-branching out in so many other diverse, odd, yet gorgeous little pathways of thought. His work is deeply meditative and poetic, showing us brilliant images and externalizations of ideas and then allowing us time to process and muse while gazing into ponds or paintings amidst ambient music.

  • Famously hailed as both an intimate portrait of complicated people as well as a grand epic of sex and politics, Kaufman's philosophical, quiet, meandering film is not as simple as it seems, and continues to astonish with breathtaking revelations with more viewings.

  • Bleak, despairing, yet poetic, Bergman's three films on faith can't be missed. Faith in film is perhaps one of the most rich subjects to examine, because there are so many questions to be asked and so many different aspects of belief to study and watch closely. Passion, insanity, doubts, non-belief, the silence and terribleness of God, all are explored, and all are subject to differences in interpretation and understanding in these works.

  • Some of the greatest, most deeply human films are found in this trilogy. With three simple stories following a handful of complicated characters, Kieslowski manages to pour out rivers of hidden meaning and deeper issues to be examined beneath the beautiful, tragic surfaces of his films.

  • Renoir's great work, a satire of the upper-middle classes just before WWII, is a complex study of humanity, of people's motivations, of the web of relationships and mundane details in which we all live. The famous phrase "Everyone has their reasons" takes on different meaning with each consecutive screening.

  • Mike Leigh's British Miserabilist film is a jumble of philosophical conundrums (some empty and some of substance), intellectual concepts floating about in the space of a rambling, restless mind. Nearly every topic known to man is free game for Johnny, and he never seems to shut up with all of the information and musings jumbling around in his desperate soul, thereby filling up our minds with plenty to think about long after the credits roll.


  • By MattSheardown
    October 20, 2012
    10:56 AM

    Good choices all around. I would definitely add Hiroshima Mon Amour to consideration on this topic as well.
    • By Jarred
      October 20, 2012
      01:38 PM

      That's a great one too, I was torn between that and Last Year for Resnais.
  • By Nick
    October 21, 2012
    04:57 AM

    Have you seen The Thin Red Line? That's one of the first films that comes to mind when you mention meditation...
    • By Jarred
      October 21, 2012
      04:32 PM

      Yes, I was thinking about putting Malick on this list, but I was thinking more about meditative films that are intricate and puzzling, that require a lot of thought and interpretation. Malick's poetic cinema is beautiful and meditative, no doubt, but I didn't feel that it fit with the rest of these films, at least for me.
  • By Nick
    October 24, 2012
    03:32 PM

    Good point. I need to check out Three Colors... Any order you'd recommend?
  • By Jarred
    October 25, 2012
    04:43 PM

    The order for Three Colors? I would follow the order they came out in, Blue, White, Red. Criterion orders them that way as well.
  • By Theo
    February 21, 2013
    12:23 PM

    8 1/2 is one of the greatest films I've ever seen. Only seen the first of the Three Colors Trilogy (Blue), but I can't wait to see the next two. I love Ingmar Bergman, especially Wild Strawberries, but I have yet to see his trilogy. I'm also dying to see Last Year at Marienbad and Cul-de-sac. I would add The Seventh Seal because there's so much that you gain from every viewing. Lastly, I'm not sure it fits the description of "meditative" very well, but Umberto D. is very thought provoking and well made.