Every now and then we come cross a movie that tries to do something, that tries to show something. It strives to have a meaning, so the viewer can draw some meaning of life out of it. These movies can be made on various topics, and the plot lines are just metaphors for what the filmmaker means to convey. A very poignant theme that one finds in movies is the theme of isolation. The disturbed solace one finds in loneliness, and the strength in being a metaphorical lone wolf. Loneliness is often shown through different but interrelated ways, and the deeper we go, the more we find that it is a topic a large group of people can identify with.

Existential Loneliness

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Personally, the most intriguing form of loneliness explored in film that I’ve come across. Not necessarily in movies like Alien, talking about us not being the only life in the universe, but more of The Matrix or The Man from Earth. These are stories of how one man contemplates what life really is, and he sees lives around him give in or give out. His very existence implies a meaning that he is searching for, and more often than not, in anticipatory vain; for the journey to the answer is really the answer.

Psychological Loneliness

The Shining is one, Shutter Island another. These are movies where the lead man is undergoing psychological disturbances, and they seem to warp his vision of reality. While The Shining was very simple and brilliant cinematography of Kubrick, the Shutter Island relied on Martin Scorsese’s storytelling and graphic shots to display the madness behind the crazed lead. DiCaprio excels, but Jack Nicholson terrifies. I would also like to bring up here movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in which Johnny Depp captures the above two brilliantly, juggling psychedelics and totally psych scenarios with a completely non-level-headed philanderer of a lawyer.

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Emotional Loneliness

Tom Hardy in Locke, who is seen battling his fears and emotions in a continuous reel of him in a car journey for an hour and a half, Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, the lone man responsible for saving hundreds of lives in the Holocaust, Adrien Brody as the Pianist, surviving alone in fear and almost defeated by life itself in the World War period.

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In A Clockwork Orange, Alex the main Droog undergoes emotional and psychological torture in jail, under the pretense of a treatment. He is left all alone, away from his family and friends, even when he is released.

Physical Loneliness

Movies that chronicle the struggles of one man who was being tormented or being subjected to forces of nature or life out of his control. It is usually one man in a scenario to survive or pull through. 127 Hours, Life of Pi, Cast Away and more recently, The Revenant all portray this form of solitary journeys. Into the Wild is one such movie, where the lead eschews the modern world to find himself and happiness in the solitary bliss of nature’s arms. Or so he thought, until his beliefs are turned upside down and he realizes the golden truth of life, that “Happiness is only real, when shared”.

Supernatural Solitariness

No, I do not mean God not having a Goddess, or heartbroken vampires. These are movies that explore loneliness using super natural elements, such as drug-induced out-of-body experiences of a soul in Enter the Void, or even the journey of the Astronaut and the AI, HAL, in the formation of God in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Also there is the Scarlett Johannsson film Under the Skin. A creepy and yet titillating take on an alien that takes the form of a woman, and realizes her sexuality only to exploit her erotic potential.

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All these movies rely mainly on the lead actor, being able to hold the screen alone and to convey what he is going through to us. The actor and the director are able to show to us a world that they seem to put us into unknowingly. Often, we put ourselves into their shoes, and continue the journey in their movie. Seems only prudent and gratifying, that audience are the one true company the lead always has.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Bourne Series.
  • I am Legend.
  • Warm Bodies.
  • Moon.
  • Her.