There has always been a common issue with the media creation of books, film and TV, which closely explore mental illness or heavily feature characters who have a mental illness, in the romanticisation of it and trivialisation of it. This probably happens for multiple reasons, but it doesn’t mean that all of these books, films and TV series’ have been completely wrong in their presentation of mental health issues. So below I am going to talk about my favourite movies that explore mental illness and do it enough justice for them to be worthwhile.
Why does Mental Illness always seem to be romanticised instead of addressed?…
This is a difficult question to answer, and I have a perspective on it, but it is completely subjective, comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with what I believe is the answer to why.
Mental illness is not pretty, fun, or in any way entertaining, however, the purpose of films, or at least most successful films, is to entertain. This leaves producers in a difficult situation, because the sad reality of it is that, a film that looked at such issues completely realistically, wouldn’t be successful. And in hand, would be a waste of time producing. Where as a film that looks at mental illness from a percentage of its truth filled out with entertainment is in fact, worthwhile.
Now, this is frustrating, infuriating and hard to swallow, especially when watching the films you see the pain and the mis judgement of how hard it is or how much more destructive it is. But, I have come to the conclusion personally that I would rather the films below exist with an ounce of a daydream than not exist at all.
All these films have been seen by hundreds of people, thousands of people, maybe even millions, so I have come to forgive the misjudgement and thank the few scenes that show the reality to all the people who view them.
The stigma around mental illness will not be destroyed in one fail swoop, so I thank films like this that play a part in the shattering of misconceptions.
(Irregardless of the additional misconceptions they may or may not have forged within society :/)
The Perks of being a Wallflower
This film looks at PTSD and depression largely, with anxiety coming in tow with the depression. I do not want to spoil the film any, but what I will say is the film depicts highschool and growing up. As well as looking at trauma and the emotional toil events, and specifically childhood events, have on us years later. The film may understate how hard it is to overcome such issues, and how long the road may be to recovery, but it is worthy of your time. It shows the reality of highschool, not like a musical, but quite frankly for many, a countdown
“So this is my life. And I want you to know I am both happy and sad and I am still trying to figure out how that could be.”
The Secret life of Walter Mitty
Now, the secret life of Walter Mitty is a work of art in my eyes, as one of the very important characters says, ‘beautiful things do not demand attention’. The film follows a mans journey, and that is all I will leave you with in reference to the plot, in a bid to make you watch it and join him on his journey.
The film looks at mental illness almost from a distance, it looks at those who function every day and survive but are restrained from thriving with mental illness’s wrath keeping them quite simply stuck. The ending of the film is the message, and it shows the subtle impacts that anxiety has on even the visually most ‘okay’ individual throughout.
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
To the Bone
Now it is undeniable the obvious within to the bone to mental illness as it follows the journey of a young woman with anerxia nervosa, and other individuals with varying eating disorders. When the film was first released on Netflix there was alot of controversy over its value, and wether it was as the post suggests, romantising mental illness. It was critisised to the bone of its being with every scene being disected. And, yes though there may be a few unessary details shared and it is evidently triggering for those who have suffered and are suffering with an eating disorder. It also doesn’t emit the harsh truths of such disorders from hidden purging to rollocoaster of relapse after relapse before recovery finally comes.
In conclusion, the film is not one I would recommend to a sufferer of an eating disorder, however, it is one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to others. As it leaves viewers with the right message, that recovery is possable and it certainly doesn’t fail to understate the pain of mental illness and how hard the fight is. At least to its best ability in a 2 hour time slot.
“It’s scary, but only you can decide… to see what’s good, to be alive.”
The Breakfast Club
Now, first of all, for those of you reading this who have not watched The Breakfast Club, why not? This is a classic film created in 1985 and is a must watch.
Back to the point, the film is one you may not directly link to mental illness, and is faultless in its depiction of it. Another school based film that shows how much we all face and hide, and how difficult simply living and surviving can be. As you watch a group of kids in detention all from the varying corners of the school cafeteria open up and grow together for one day in detention. You see the pain, and the inperfections in them all, and how the acceptance that everyone else is just as lost suddenly makes them all feel a little less alone. A little less different.
“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”
I would love you to comment and share your favourite movies and books in regards to the presenting mental illness?… Or just comment and check in angels…