Movies About Philosophy

Movies About Philosophy (List)

Are you a fan of cinema and philosophy? If so, you’ll love this curated list of thought-provoking films that delve into philosophical themes, explore the lives of philosophers, or tackle deep philosophical questions. Whether you’re an avid philosopher or simply curious about the intersection of film and philosophy, these movies offer a unique blend of entertainment and intellectual stimulation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore philosophical themes in feature films and documentaries
  • Discover biographical films based on the lives of real-life philosophers
  • Dive into documentaries that focus on renowned philosophers and their ideas
  • Discover films where philosophers play the main role, even if not primarily about philosophy
  • Enjoy movies featuring philosophers as part of the main cast, adding depth to the story
  • Engage in films where philosophy takes center stage and drives the plotline

Biographical Films

Biographical films offer a captivating glimpse into the lives and ideas of real-life philosophers. These movies provide a unique opportunity to explore the personal experiences, intellectual journeys, and profound insights of prominent thinkers who have shaped the world of philosophy. Here are a few noteworthy biographical films that immerse viewers in the lives and philosophies of influential philosophers throughout history:

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt is a thought-provoking biographical film that delves into the life of the German-American philosopher and political theorist, Hannah Arendt. Directed by Margarethe von Trotta, the film explores Arendt’s controversial coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trial and her groundbreaking ideas on the nature of evil and the banality of evil.

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Socrates, directed by Roberto Rossellini, brings to life the story of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. This biographical film offers a captivating portrayal of Socrates’ relentless pursuit of truth, his influential teachings, and his eventual trial and execution.


Wittgenstein, directed by Derek Jarman, is a visually stunning biographical film that explores the life and philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. This movie delves into Wittgenstein’s groundbreaking contributions to logic and language as well as his personal struggles and complex relationships.

These biographical films offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and minds of philosophers, shedding light on their ideas, struggles, and the profound impact they have had on the world of thought. Through the medium of cinema, viewers can gain a deeper appreciation for the philosophies that continue to shape our understanding of the human experience.

Documentaries about Philosophers

This section showcases a selection of thought-provoking documentary films that delve into the lives and philosophies of renowned thinkers. These documentaries not only provide a deeper understanding of the philosophers themselves but also offer valuable insights into the broader realm of philosophy.


“Derrida” is an intellectually stimulating documentary that explores the life and ideas of French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman, this film offers an intimate portrait of Derrida’s groundbreaking philosophy and the impact it had on the academic world. Through interviews, archival footage, and in-depth discussions with the philosopher himself, “Derrida” examines the complexities and controversies surrounding his work.

“Examined Life”

“Examined Life” invites viewers into a series of engaging conversations with some of the most influential contemporary philosophers, including Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler, and Cornel West. Directed by Astra Taylor, this documentary explores various aspects of philosophy and its relevance to everyday life. The film raises thought-provoking questions about ethics, politics, and the nature of existence, encouraging viewers to reflect on their own lives and the world around them.

These documentaries offer a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of philosophers and their profound contributions to the field of philosophy. Through interviews, archival footage, and thought-provoking discussions, these films allow audiences to engage with complex ideas and explore the relevance of philosophy in contemporary society.

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Documentary Director Philosopher
“Derrida” Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman Jacques Derrida
“Examined Life” Astra Taylor Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler, Cornel West, and others

Films Starring Philosophers

This section delves into films where philosophers take on the main role, even if the primary focus of the film isn’t philosophy itself. These movies offer unique insights into philosophical concepts and ethical dilemmas within captivating storylines. Let’s explore a couple of examples:

“Irrational Man”

Irrational Man, directed by Woody Allen, follows the story of Abe Lucas, a depressed and disillusioned philosophy professor played by Joaquin Phoenix. As he grapples with existential questions and a desire for meaning, Abe becomes involved in a morally complex situation that tests his beliefs. The film expertly weaves philosophical concepts into its plot, provoking thought and contemplation.

“The Life of David Gale”

In The Life of David Gale, Kevin Spacey portrays David Gale, a former philosophy professor and well-known anti-death penalty advocate. Accused of a crime he claims he did not commit, Gale faces his own mortality and navigates ethical dilemmas while fighting for justice. This thought-provoking film skillfully intertwines philosophical themes with a compelling narrative.

These films showcase the power of storytelling in bringing philosophical ideas to life. Through the main characters’ journeys, audiences are challenged to contemplate existential questions and grapple with complex moral choices.

Films Featuring Philosophers

In this section, we explore films where philosophers play a significant role as part of the main cast, even if their philosophical ideas are not the central focus of the story. These movies provide a unique perspective by incorporating philosophical figures as supporting characters, adding depth and intellectual stimulation to the narrative. Let’s delve into a few notable examples:


Directed by Oliver Stone, “Alexander” is a biographical film that follows the life and conquests of the legendary Macedonian king, Alexander the Great. While the movie primarily centers around Alexander’s military campaigns and personal struggles, it also features the renowned philosopher Aristotle as one of the supporting characters. Aristotle, portrayed by actor Christopher Plummer, serves as Alexander’s mentor, imparting wisdom and guidance throughout his journey.


Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama, “Gladiator,” transports viewers to ancient Rome, portraying the life of Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius. Although the central storyline revolves around Maximus seeking revenge against the corrupt emperor Commodus, the film also introduces the philosopher and stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius. Played by actor Richard Harris, Marcus Aurelius provides moral guidance to Maximus and offers a glimpse into the philosophical ideals of the time.

These films exemplify how philosophers can elevate the storytelling experience by embodying wisdom and intellectual depth on the big screen. While they may not be the main characters, their presence adds an intriguing layer to the narratives and prompts viewers to contemplate deeper themes and philosophical concepts.

Film Title Main Plot Philosopher Actor
Alexander Biographical film following Alexander the Great Aristotle Christopher Plummer
Gladiator Ancient Roman general seeking revenge Marcus Aurelius Richard Harris

Films About Philosophy

If you’re a cinephile who loves exploring deep questions and thought-provoking ideas, then films about philosophy are a must-watch. These movies delve into philosophical plotlines and engage in profound discussions that will leave you contemplating life’s most profound mysteries.

An excellent example of such a film is “My Dinner with Andre,” directed by Louis Malle. The movie takes place during a long conversation between two friends, Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, as they discuss a range of philosophical topics, from personal experiences to the nature of reality.

“Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater, is another remarkable film that explores the boundaries between dreams and reality. Through a series of surreal and philosophical encounters, the movie tackles existential questions and the nature of human existence.

These films about philosophy not only entertain but also challenge conventional thinking and encourage viewers to ponder the bigger questions of life. So, grab some popcorn, sit back, and prepare to embark on a journey of contemplation and reflection.


What are some movies about philosophy?

Here are some movies that explore philosophical themes, featuring philosophers or delving into philosophical questions.

Can you suggest any biographical films about philosophers?

Yes, there are several biographical films based on the lives of real-life philosophers, including “Hannah Arendt,” “Socrates,” and “Wittgenstein.”

Are there any documentaries about philosophers?

Yes, there are documentaries that focus on the lives and works of philosophers, such as “Derrida” and “Examined Life,” offering a deeper insight into their ideas and teachings.

Are there any films where philosophers are the main characters?

Absolutely! Films like “Irrational Man” and “The Life of David Gale” feature philosophers as main characters, central to the story, exploring philosophical concepts or ethical dilemmas.

Can you recommend any films with philosophers in supporting roles?

Certainly! Films like “Alexander” and “Gladiator” have philosophers like Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius playing supporting roles, even if their philosophical ideas are not the main focus of the story.

Are there any films where philosophy plays a central role in the plot?

Yes, there are films like “My Dinner with Andre” and “Waking Life” that engage in philosophical discussions and explore existential questions, with philosophy being the central theme of the storyline.

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