The Shawshank Redemption

Imagine being convicted for a double murder that you did not commit and then spending twenty years in prison. You would be forced to endure unimaginable horrors, not because you killed two people, but because, as the hero of the The Shawshank Redemption puts it, you were a bad husband and drove your wife into […]

An Esthetic Principle for Biographical Movies

Biographical and historical movies are popular among film makers, and with good reason. We like to learn more about popular figures. We like to see the story of heroes, whether the heroes are well known or obscure.

But biographical movies raise significant esthetic issues. Unlike a book, a movie must have a more limited length. […]

Chocolat and the Virtue of Independence

Brian’s article on the movie Chocolat talked about the challenge of pursuing ones values in the face of a community antithetical to those values. The virtue required for this kind of courage is independence. Independence is never placing anything above the sovereignty of one’s own mind and is a prerequisite to pursuing rational values. Chocolat […]

Hobson’s Choice

Nearly every day, we are besieged with claims that human actions are caused by forces outside of our control. Whether it is abuse as a child, one’s economic conditions, or genetics, we are repeatedly told that we aren’t responsible for our actions.

Hobson’s Choice dramatizes the fact that we possess the faculty of volition (free […]

Twelve Angry Men

It is not unusual to hear someone admonished for being judgmental. Such admonishments are themselves a judgment, and just one example of the fact that it is impossible to live without judging others. The real issue is not whether to judge or not, but whether to judge rationally or not.

Twelve Angry Men shows us […]


Pursuing one’s values is always a challenge, and it is even more difficult when those values are in conflict with the community in which one lives. In Chocolat, Vianne Rocher opens a chocolate shop in a small French village on the eve of Lent. She immediately finds herself in conflict with the town’s mayor, who […]