Depressing Movies
2 Nov 2013
Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru No Haka)

Director: Isao Takahata (1988, Japanese, 89 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (97%), IMDB (8.4), Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: WatchAnimeMovie.

Similar movies: anime, death, depressing, intense, war.

Summary: Yet to write.



Director: Sandeep Sawant (2004, Marathi, 107 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (40%), IMDB (7.7), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube, YouTube.

Similar movies: childhood, depressing, illness.

Summary: Yet to write.


Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället)

Director: Ingmar Bergman (1957, Swedish, 91 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (95%), IMDB (8.3), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: Hulu, YouTube.

Similar movies: death, depressing, old age.

Summary: Wild Strawberries is a great but depressing movie by Ingmar Bergman. The main character is an eighty year old guy who keeps remembering his childhood and early years in flashbacks.

A great movie on old age that is uplifting is Ikiru (1952, Japanese). The main character is Watanabe, who has lived a dull, lifeless existence for over fifty years. Suddenly, he learns that he has about two months to live. He struggles to find meaning in his existence.

I tell my friends that they should watch both movies: Wild Strawberries and Ikiru. Both movies explore the meaning of life: what makes us happy? In Wild Stawberries, the main character does not find answers. In Ikiru, the main character does find answers.



Director: Guru Dutt (1957, Hindi, 146 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: depressing, romance.

Summary: Pyaasa is a depressing but soulfully romantic movie by Guru Dutt. Great acting by all three characters: Guru Dutt, Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman. The word Pyaasa means thirsty in Hindi. The movie is about unrequited love.

The story revolves around Vijay, an unsuccessful poet. The role was played by Guru Dutt himself. Throughout his life, Vijay feels unloved and unappreciated. In his college days, his sweetheart dumps him because he has no secure future as a poet. She marries a rich newspaper owner instead. Later, a prostitute falls in love with him, primarily for his poetry. She remains devoted to him but Vijay is not interested in her. Soon, Vijay does acquire fame and money. At that time, his relatives take advantage of his fame to make money for themselves.

Despite being a depressing movie, Pyaasa is worth watching for its romantic moments, awesome songs and great acting.

Songs: Jaane Kya Tune KahiJane Wo Kaise Log The Jinke Pyar Ko Pyar MilaYe Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya HaiHum Aapki Aankhon MeinSar Jo Tera ChakraayeAaj Sajan Mohe Ang Laga Lo.


The Cloud Capped Star (Meghe Dhake Tara)

Director: Ritwik Ghatak (1960, Bengali, 126 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (8.1), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: depressing, family, illness, intense, village life.

Summary: Haunting and tragic. Very well made. Character development and story telling were both wonderful. I felt that each role was played to perfection and there were no extra characters.

This is the first movie by Ritwik Ghatak that I saw and I really liked it. Recommended if you're in a mood to watch a serious, sombre, tragedy.


The Case is Closed (Kharij)

Director: Mrinal Sen (1982, Bengali, 95 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (43%), IMDB (7.3), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: death, depressing, family, intense, suspense.

Summary: The story is simple: a servant boy dies in an apartment. What happens next? There is a little bit of suspense as events unfold but the focus is on how various people handle the situation. The social fabric of middle class life is portrayed very well. Even though the theme of the movie is intense, there is no melodrama.

A succinct summary of the movie is here.


An Affair of Love (Une Liaison Pornographique)

Director: Frédéric Fonteyne (1999, French, 80 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (86%), IMDB (7.0), Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Similar movies: depressing.

Summary: Yet to write.


No Man's Land (Ničija Zemlja)

Director: Danis Tanovic (2001, Bosnian, 98 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (93%), IMDB (7.9), Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: depressing, intense, war.

Summary: A pretty good movie that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Both the opening scene and the closing scene of the movie are haunting. Two soldiers, a Bosnian and a Serb, find themselves in a trench that lies in no man's land, an area between the two enemy lines. Both are injured. A third soldier is found nearby, lying on a landmine. If he moves, all three will die. The situation is comical but there is no comedy in the movie, just drama. The point of the movie is to show blind hatred between two warring parties and the inefficacy of bureaucratic UN peace keeping forces.

Memorable quote from the movie: "Because I have a gun and you don't!"


5 Centimeters Per Second (Byôsoku 5 Senchimêtoru)

Director: Makoto Shinkai (2007, Japanese, 63 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (7.9), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube, WatchAnimeMovie.

Similar movies: anime, depressing.


Cherry trees along the former course of the Berlin Wall.
A pensive story of a young couple that grows apart over time. The movie is slow but delightfully artistic. The opening dialogues of the movie explain the title:

"They say it's five centimeters per second."

"What do you mean?"

"The speed at which the sakura blossom petals fall... Five centimeters per second."

The sakura tree (cherry blossom) is a Japanese national symbol of how fleeting life and beauty can be. It is a gorgeous tree that blooms in spring. Briefly. The petals hold fast to their branches for only a few days. The Japanese eagerly await these days because they indulge in festivities when the sakura trees blossom. The significance of cherry blossoms in Japanese culture is captured very well by a passage at Bon Appetit's Blog.

The movie has three chapters. Chapter I was awesome! It shows how fervently the couple keeps in touch despite physical distance, and their last meeting. Chapter II and III are good too.

An Amazon reviewer summarized the movie as follows:

"The sakura petals are like us, falling from the tree of life. As we fall, we encounter all sorts of people. There will be people who we will fall in love with. However by the time the petals (us) reach the ground we don't know who will be beside us."


A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin)

Director: Asghar Farhadi (2012, Persian, 123 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (99%), IMDB (8.4), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: city life, depressing, family, intense, separation.

Summary: An intense family drama that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2012. The story involves two families. The first family is a middle class couple with an 11-year old daughter. The husband's father lives with them. He has Alzheimer's. The second family is a poor family with a 5-year old daughter. Both families have troubles of their own, a lot of which is due to the strong personalities of the two husbands. Acting is great. Character development is awesome. The story is gripping. It kept me engaged throughout. An Amazon review aptly puts it, "The only film where people watch the end credits with bated breath!" :)

After watching the movie, I read the story at Wikipedia and understood a few moments in the movie better.


North Face (Nordwand)

Director: Philipp Stölzl (2008, German, 126 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (84%), IMDB (7.4), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: Amazon Prime.

Similar movies: adventure, death, depressing, intense, true story.

Summary: A riveting, tragic true story of a team of two German and two Austrian climbers who attempt to climb the Eiger in 1936, a peak that had not been climbed before. Shooting was done near the Eiger itself. The movie has superb scenes of snow covered mountains and climbers making difficult decisions as they encounter one challenge after another. The movie ends on a tragic note when all the climbers die, one after another. Also, the love story sub-plot is quite unnecessary and detracts from the main story, which is about climbing.

Touching The Void (2003, English) is an equally great movie on climbing but more inspiring and positive. The expedition in Touching The Void is successful and everybody makes it, injured but alive. Still, North Face is a great movie that reminded me that mountain climbing is not about the winners alone; there are fatalaties as well.


© Copyright 2008—2018, Gurmeet Manku.