Hidden Life Lessons From the World’s Most Iconic Movies

Since the introduction of film in the late 1800s, society has been enraptured with this form of entertainment. Over the years, genres such as documentary, western, comedy, and romance have all filtered into the cinematic universe, triggering audience reactions of many kinds.

The magic of film, however, can offer more than just entertainment. Valuable lessons can be deduced from films, communicated in the unique form of cinema. Even movies that are viewed multiple times often hold important messages worth remembering.

Don’t Give Up

Adapted from a book with the same title, Life of Pi was released in 2012 to huge commercial success. The story follows a young man thrown into catastrophic circumstances.

Pi, the protagonist, spends much of the movie battling his desire to give up in the face of hopelessness. Spoiler alert: he does not, leading to a far more favorable ending.

Similarly, the well-known film Rocky Balboa follows a protagonist who must fight against the odds. In a now-famous quote, Rocky Balboa explains, “Life is not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take and still keep moving forward.”

Even the Smallest Person Can Make a Difference

Insignificance is a source of insecurity for many. Still, reality can become a success story in films like Lord of the Rings.

Small in stature and self-assurance, the lead character, Frodo, must face his fears to protect the future of his civilization.

Inspiringly, Frodo does just that, establishing that though he may not fit the mold of a traditional hero, his capabilities are still impressive.

Standing Up for What You Deserve Leads to Internal Fulfillment

Bridget Jones’s Diary was first written as a loose imitation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It unexpectedly exploded in popularity when adapted into a film, with viewers sympathizing with the protagonist’s qualms.

The film starts by delving into the main character’s insecurities about her weight and personality; Bridget is desperate to begin her year of improvement. Through many comical mishaps, she learns the benefit of standing up for herself, finishing the movie with more confidence and appreciation than expected.

Life Is Short, Make the Most of It

Encouraging tears around the world, the movie The Bucket List was released in 2007. A tale of two terminally ill men from different walks of life, the film questions the importance of life while taking the audience on a journey of two friends with limited time.

“Forty-five years goes by pretty fast,” Carter, the ex-mechanic, admits.

“Like smoke through a keyhole,” billionaire Edward agrees thoughtfully.

Though only one man lives by the final scene, the movie’s message is clear. Life is short; friends, family, and faith are ultimately more important than money.

Having Courage in Difficult Circumstances Leads to Triumph

A timeless life lesson is evident in movies such as The Wizard of Oz, Forrest Gump, and The Lion King, where the message that courage reigns supreme is clear.

In Forrest Gump, the protagonist lives with a lifelong disability. Though tasks may not come easy to him, his childlike optimism and fierce determination make him succeed in life.

The film that altered children’s cinema forever, The Lion King, was released in 1997 with a heartfelt message. Simba, the main character, must confront his past to save the family he loves. It takes time to build up the courage, but the reward is peace in the land when he does.

Hope Will Shape Your Experience

Though it didn’t make waves at the box office upon release, the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption eventually became something of a cult classic. In it, the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, has been wrongly convicted of a double murder. His experience in jail was unpleasant, but refusing to crumble, he maintained a positive attitude in his quest for innocence.

In one notable moment, he says to a fellow inmate: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

In the film’s satisfying conclusion, Dufresne is freed, and his decades of hope have finally paid off.

You Are More Than What Others Perceive

Topping the leaderboard for box office returns in 2023, Greta Gerwig’s movie Barbie was impactful in more ways than one. With deliberate points of empowerment, including one much-loved monologue from America Ferrera, the movie comments on the modern woman.

Ultimately, the story covers Barbie, who is, in all ways, supposed to embody perfection. Through humorous and heartfelt narrative, the final message is apparent. Your worth is not based on the opinion of others, regardless of how impressive that might be.

Author: Caitriona Maria

Title: Freelance Writer

Expertise: Education, teaching language, online learning, travel


Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.