Movies About Ethical Issues

Ethics help make great movies.

Movies about ethical issues can often do something much more exciting than keep people in their seats for the two or so hours the film lasts. Films that address ethical issues can often motivate those who may not have otherwise known about a problem to go out there and start working on a solution. While what the movies' viewers do may be different (some may just Google to learn more about the issue while others might attend a rally event), movies about ethical issues are a great example of a type of film that is much more than entertainment.

Categories of Movies About Ethical Issues

Looking for a film that has a little more substance to it than fluff? Don't worry, these films will keep you looking at the world an entirely different way as they each feature a significant ethical issue that stems much father than just the movie:

Business Ethics

To some, the phrase 'business' and 'ethics' don't belong in the same sentence, let alone in the same film. However, these movies address not only why that is, but why we need to take another look at the issue overall:

  • The Insider: Mixing big business and the tobacco industry, The Insider is the tale of a whistleblower's plight.
  • Wall Street: Trying to get to the top of the business world, Bud encounters some shady practices along the way in his pursuit of the big dollar.
  • The film traces how a start-up company rises and falls with both practices and ethics.
  • Glengarry Glen Ross: Talk about motivation in the workplace. When the corporate office of a real estate business sends a representative to 'whip the team into shape,' two men know their jobs are on the line if they don't perform.

Legal Ethics

The legal system might not be perfect but these films examine why it is sometimes said to be corrupt.

  • The People vs. Larry Flynt: Larry Flynt has a history of being in and out of court for his shock-jock antics. What greater role do these cases take on, however?
  • The Rainmaker: A young lawyer takes on the world trying to make things a better place while trying to battle a devious insurance company.
  • The Runaway Jury: This film deals with the legal right and control of the gun industry when a company tries to take control of the jury by levying on their future.
  • Twelve Angry Men: The judicial process at its best, a minority takes on convincing the majority of the jury during a major court case.

Political and Environmental Ethics

Politics may be a dirty game sometimes,but these films examine a few of the prime case studies.

  • The Contender: The somewhat dirty past of a woman running for major office is revealed with a few missteps along the way.
  • The Manchurian Candidate: Brainwash, US politics and more are all in the forefront of either version of this film.
  • All the President's Men: Two men explore the reasons behind Deepthroat, Nixon's resignation and more.
  • The Day After Tomorrow: A scientist tries to stop global warming from killing the world when he realizes his son is in danger.

Medical Ethics

When medicine's ability to cure is mixed with ethics, strange things happen.

  • Charly: A mentally handicapped man gets assistance and his new skills make him useful to many. However, he isn't happy. Where should medicine move now: towards exploiting his use or fixing his life?
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: The dangers and negatives of the 1960's mental institution is revealed when the patients' perspective is highlighted.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: When a couple wants to forget the other party has ever existed, they start going through a procedure to erase those thoughts. But is medicine best used for forgetting?

A Final Thought

While ethical movies might be a lot heavier than your average comedy or chick flick, it is no wonder that so many ethical films have won awards. The gravitas of these films resides with movie critics much longer than just their time in the theater.

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Movies About Ethical Issues