Top 10 Films Featuring Mental Illness

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10. Play Misty for Me: Borderline Personality Disorder

Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. The original music score was composed by Dee Barton. Play Misty For Me was a financial success, earning over $5 million on a budget of $725,000.

The film had mostly positive reviews, with an 83% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a film review website. In his 1971 review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote, “Play Misty for Me is not the artistic equal of Psycho, but in the business of collecting an audience into the palm of its hand and then squeezing hard, it is supreme.” -Wikipedia.org

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9. Through a Glass Darkly: Schizophrenia

Through a Glass Darkly is a 1961 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, and produced by Allan Ekelund. The film is a three-act  “chamber film”, in which four family members act as mirrors for each other. It is the first of many Bergman films to be shot on the island of Fårö. The title is from a biblical passage (1 Corinthians 13) in which seeing through a glass darkly refers to our understanding of God when we are alive; the view will only be clear when we die.

The title literally means As in a Mirror, which is how the passage reads in a 1917 Swedish translation of the Bible.  Bergman described Through a Glass Darkly as a “chamber film,” an allusion both to the chamber plays of Strindberg (Bergman’s favorite playwright), and to chamber music in general. In line with the “chamber” theme, the film takes place in a single 24-hour period, features only four characters and takes place entirely on an island. -Wikipedia.org

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8. Ordinary People: Anxiety Disorder

Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film that marked the directorial debut of Robert Redford. The story concerns the disintegration of an upper-middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, following the death of the older son in a boating accident. The screenplay by Alvin Sargent was based upon the 1976 novel of the same name by Judith Guest.  

The film was a critical and commercial success, winning that year’s Academy Award for Best Picture as well as three other Oscars. Robert Redford and Timothy Hutton both won Academy Awards for their respective debuts: Redford as Best Director and Hutton as Best Supporting Actor. The film marked Mary Tyler Moore’s career breakout from the stereotype of the light-hearted comedienne. Moore’s role was well-received and obtained a nomination for Best Actress. The film also won Best Picture for 1980. -Wikipedia.org

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7. Psycho: Dissociative disorder

Psycho is a 1960 American film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is based on the screenplay by Joseph Stefano, who adapted it from the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The novel was based on the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. The film depicts the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who is in hiding at a motel after embezzling from her employer, and the motel’s owner, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and the aftermath of their encounter.

Psycho initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted a re-review which was overwhelmingly positive and led to four Academy Award nominations. Psycho is now considered one of Hitchcock’s best films and is highly praised as a work of cinematic art by international critics. The film spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake, and a television movie spin-off. -Wikipedia.org

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6. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?: Autism

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 film directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Peter Hedges wrote the screenplay adapted from his 1991 novel of the same name.

The film received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, 32 out of 36 reviewers marked the film as “fresh”, thus giving it a mark of 90%. New York Times film critic Janet Maslin praised DiCaprio’s performance, writing “the film’s real show-stopping turn comes from Mr. DiCaprio, who makes Arnie’s many tics  so startling and vivid that at first he is difficult to watch…. The performance has a sharp, desperate intensity from beginning to end.”

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times described it as “… one of the most enchanting films of the year” and said that DiCaprio deserved to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for which he was nominated. Todd McCarthy of Variety  found the film a “bemused view on life” and remarked that “Depp manages to command center screen with a greatly affable, appealing characterization.”

Washington Post’s Desson Howe thought the film was an earnest but highly predictable effort. Film Review praised Leonardo DiCaprio  as the mentally handicapped brother, calling it “a performance of astonishing innocence and spontaneity”, bringing “a touching credibility to a very difficult part”. -Wikipedia.org

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5. A Beautiful Mind: Schizophrenia

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American film based on the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr., a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman. It was inspired by a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-nominated 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The film stars Russell Crowe, along with Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer and Paul Bettany.  

The story begins in the early years of a young schizophrenic prodigy named John Nash. Early in the movie, Nash begins developing paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss and burden his condition brings on his wife and friends.  The film opened in US cinemas on December 21, 2001. It was well-received by critics, grossed over $300 million worldwide, and went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. It was also nominated for Best Leading Actor, Best Editing, Best Makeup, and Best Score.

The film has been criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of some aspects of Nash’s life. The film fictionally portrayed his hallucinations as visual and auditory, when in fact they were exclusively auditory. Also, Nasar concluded that Nash’s refusal to take drugs “may have been fortunate,” since their side effects “would have made his gentle re-entry into the world of mathematics a near impossibility”; in the screenplay, however, just before he receives the Nobel Prize, Nash speaks of taking “newer medications.” -Wikipedia.org

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4. Rain Man: Autism

Rain Man is a 1988 American drama film written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass and directed by Barry Levinson. It tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt, who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond, a man with autism of whose existence Charlie was unaware.  

The film stars Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt, and Valeria Golino as Charlie’s girlfriend, Susanna. Morrow created the character of Raymond after meeting Kim Peek, a real-life savant; his characterization was based on both Peek and Bill Sackter, a good friend of Morrow who was the subject of Bill, an earlier film that Morrow wrote.

Rain Man received overwhelmingly positive reviews at the time of its release, praising Hoffman’s role and the wit and sophistication of the screenplay.  The film won four Oscars at the 61st Academy Awards (March 1989), including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor in a leading role for Hoffman. Its crew received an additional four nominations. -Wikipedia.org

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3. Girl, Interrupted: Borderline Personality Disorder

Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 drama film about a teenager’s 18-month stay at a mental institution, starring Winona Ryder, Brittany Murphy, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave. It was adapted from the original memoir of the same name, written by Susanna Kaysen. The film was directed by James Mangold, from a screenplay written by Mangold, Anna Hamilton Phelan and Lisa Loomer.

Stephen Holden in the New York Times wrote; ‘Girl, Interrupted  is a small, intense period piece with a hardheaded tough-love attitude toward lazy, self-indulgent little girls flirting with madness: You can drive yourself crazy, or you can get over it. The choice is yours.’  Tom Coates from the BBC wrote; ‘Girl, Interrupted is a decent adaptation of her memoir of this period, neatened up and polished for an audience more familiar with gloss than grit.’ -Wikipedia.org

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2. Donnie Darko: Schizophrenia

Donnie Darko is a 2001 American psychological thriller-fantasy film directed and written by Richard Kelly. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell, and depicts the reality-bending adventures of the title character as he seeks the meaning and significance behind his troubling Doomsday-related visions.  

The film was initially slated for a direct-to-video release before being picked up by Newmarket Films. Budgeted with $4.5 million and filmed over the course of 28 days, the film missed breaking even at the box office, grossing just over $4.1 million worldwide. Since then, the film has received favorable reviews from critics and developed a large cult following, resulting in the director’s cut receiving a two-disc, special edition release in 2004. -Wikipedia.org

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1. Fight Club: Mutliple Personality Disorder/Dissociative disorders

Fight Club is a 1999 American film adapted from the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an “everyman” who is discontented with his white-collar job in American society. He forms a “fight club” with soap salesman Tyler Durden, played by Pitt, and becomes embroiled in a relationship with him and a dissolute woman, Marla Singer, played by Carter.  Palahniuk’s novel was optioned by 20th Century Fox producer Laura Ziskin, who hired Jim Uhls to write the film adaptation.

Fincher was one of four directors the producers considered; they hired him because of his enthusiasm for the film. Fincher developed the script with Uhls and sought screenwriting advice from the cast and others in the film industry. The director and the cast compared the film to Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and The Graduate (1967).

Fincher intended Fight Club’s violence to serve as a metaphor for the conflict between a generation of young people and the value system of advertising. The director copied the homoerotic overtones from Palahniuk’s novel to make audiences uncomfortable and keep them from anticipating the twist ending. -Wikipedia.org

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