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My Top Ten Inspirational Films

Last week I listed my top ten inspirational books. This week it's the turn of films that have inspired me. Inspiration takes many forms with me. To inspire me it needs to have made me think. It also needs to encourage me to do something. I need to feel uplifted. Perhaps most importantly though I need to feel that surge of excitement that by taking on board what's been put forward not only am making a difference to my life, but I'm making a difference to other's lives too.

Number 10

Will Smith stars in this film based on the true story of Chris Gardener who had a one year struggle with homelessness but came through it to be a monumental success. As ever Hollywood have taken liberties with the actual events of Chris' life, but it is understandable that they would do so to some point. Some of the events took place over a long period of time so they needed to be compacted into a shorter space of time. One scene that is etched on my brain is a scene where a penniless Chris lends a cab fare to one of his bosses. This stands out for several reasons but the two main ones for me are the fact that Chris Gardener never revealed to his colleagues his dire circumstances. The second reason is, that although Chris couldn't afford to loan his boss the money, he did so. It brings home for me the mantra – when you have nothing is the time to give. Chris Gardener went on to form a multimillion dollar business.

Number 9

Dev Patel stars in this Oscar winning Danny Boyle film. Jamal, a contestant on India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is being interviewed by police having been accused of cheating after winning the jackpot. Throughout the interview Jamal recounts stories from is past that enabled him to answer all the questions correctly. For me it brings home the fact that self belief makes a huge difference. Also, although the situation was dire Jamal stuck to his guns, knowing he was telling the truth. The truth will always win – and you must believe that.

Number 8

This featured on my book list. It's very rare for a film based on a book to have the same impact on me. As with the book, the film of The Shack is loved by many but a handful of people find it insipid and a few even say it's heretic. I love letting my imagination go when I'm reading the book but the way the film captures it is breath-taking. The characterisations in the film are pretty much exactly how I pictured them and felt they would be. I can truly engross myself in the film for a couple of hours and I'll get the same warm feeling as I do when I read the book.

Number 7

Jack Black gives a suitably energetic and comedic performance in this light-hearted film. Although the lead character, Ned Schneebly, lies his way into a substitute teaching position, he ultimately has a huge positive impact on his students. I don't agree with lying to get yourself into a good job (or lying fullstop actually), but the fact he turned it around and enriched the student's lives is the take home message I like. The soundtrack is very good too and it was adapted as a stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Number 6

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson star in this, albeit somewhat predictable, beautiful film. It inspired me to start my own bucket list, and to actually write it down. Freeman and Nicholson play terminally ill patients, who decide to help each other fulfil their dreams. It brings home the message my Grandma always used to say to me “do as much as you can”. Life is too short and you never know what is going to happen. Don't wait for the terminal diagnosis. Don't wait for the special occasion to dress up. Don't keep the best crockery for Christmas. Live your life now, do the things you want to Don't stop doing things until the very end. You are the special occasion so, dress how you want to dress. Wear you tuxedo or ball gown if you want to. “You're dressed very smartly, what's the occasion?”...”I'm alive and enjoying life!”. Enjoy each and every day as if it was Christmas and then take it one step further at Christmas if you want to make it even more special.

Number 5

Rhonda Byrne wrote a very good guide on using the Law Of Attraction, which would have made it to number 11 on my book. However, the book is more or less a transcription of the film, with a couple of bits added. The film is not a film in the truest sense, it's more like a documentary. But it's great. You don't have to watch it, you can just listen to it and you'll get great benefits from it. I found myself taking notes as I was watching it the first time and additional notes each subsequent time I watch(ed) it. I'd already become a qualified practitioner of the Law Of Attraction when I first watched it, but it gave me new insights and I'd recommend it to anyone who would like to know more.

Number 4

This largely accurate account of the process George VI went through to enable him to speak publicly with the help of a speech therapist leaves me in tears every time. It's a brilliantly funny shows that once you embrace the challenges and work at them wholeheartedly, you can indeed achieve anything you set your mind to. George starts off being hung up by his “status” as the Duke of York. Protocols must be observed, but Lionel Logue isn't having any of it saying “My house, my rules”. In reality, it's unlikely that Lionel would swear in front of Royalty, but all we actually have is the opinion of Logue's grandson on this matter. For me, how historically accurate it is, is actually irrelevant as it's a story of overcoming obstacles and developing trust in a working relationship – which of course is something I try to do with all my clients.

Number 3

Twenty-Year-Old Will Hunting is a self-taught genius. Working as a janitor at MIT, he completes a mathematical problem that has been left on the board for graduate students. The answer shocks the professor and his students and a more difficult challenge is left. Will starts to complete this, but runs away when the professor catches him in the act – at first assuming he's just defacing the board. Will gets into a bar brawl and assaults a police officer but is let off jail time if he'll agree to maths tuition with the professor and therapy with Sean Maguire. The relationship with the therapist doesn't start well, but as time goes on the bond gets stronger and stronger. Sean tells the story of how he met his wife. It was the night of a very famous baseball game, but he had met a girl and wanted to go and find her...thus missing the match. As the story develops Will is offered an interview for a very prestigious job but decides to turn it down as he needs to follow his heart to his dream. A lot of us are always worried about what people will think of us if we do what Will did, but at the end of the day, it shouldn't matter. If you are happy and you want to take the chance then you shouldn't let anything get in your way – no matter how difficult it may be. Take risks, face challenges, chase your dreams.

Number 2

Every time I watch this film I bawl my eyes out. It centres around a teacher who encouraged his students to learn through experimentation and self-discovery. While it has a very tragic ending it actually has an uplifting moment too where the students show their solidarity for their teacher. If more teachers were like Mr Keating, I believe that we'd have fewer issues with our youth of today. I realise that is a sweeping statement, but if we actually give everyone, not just people in school, encouragement to find their path, find their interests and help to develop the world would be a much healthier place. Rather than using a blanket formula and treating everyone the same, find out what makes the person tick. Find out what they're interested in and how you can make that relevant to their learning. Make learning an enjoyable experience. Make it about them, not you! Try to learn from your students as much as they learn from you. Encourage them to be open minded and be open minded yourself.

Number 1

The last speech and the final image are what sealed this film's position at the top of my list. Billy comes from a working class family, in a mining community at the height of all the struggles in the 80's. His dad wants him to box, but Billy sees a dance class and although initially is taking the piss, he soon realises that he actually wants to dance. His dad doesn't like him doing it but he carries on secretly. His dance teacher encourages him and eventually he auditions for the Royal School of Ballet – a feat managed by the generosity of the community. He dances at the audition and then the interviewers ask him what he feels when he dances. The end of the film shows Billy now as a principal dancer in Swan Lake. His dad and best friend are there to watch him and at the end of the film you see Billy, Grande Jette across the stage with a freeze frame at just the right moment. It's a brilliant film and it inspired me to just follow my dreams. I originally wanted to be a dancer, but the dance class where I lived was not great...and as the only boy – well I wasn't as comfortable as Billy was to do that! Although I may not have become a dancer, the determination that Billy shows in the film, against all the odds, is inspirational. Elton John was so taken by the film that he wrote a musical version – which has just the same impact on me as the film!

Films That Inspired Me But Didn't Quite Make The List

Dangerous Minds

Singing In The Rain

Memoirs Of A Geisha


Saving Private Ryan

Schindler's List

Happy Feet

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