Movies have always been a medium for conveying social messages and the reality of present times, increasing awareness while delivering entertainment. Over the years, there have been many such movies that have focused on bringing global poverty to mainstream media, showing the condition of poverty in different parts of the world and among different communities. Out of these, a few movies about poverty are more accurate and more popular than the others. Here are 10 movies about poverty.
10 Movies About Poverty
- “Parasite:” Awarded the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020, “Parasite” is a chilling movie that throws its audience right into the reality of poverty. Bong Joon-ho directed this masterpiece of social commentary, which poses as a horror flick and includes dark themes and symbolism throughout.
- “Bicycle Thieves:” Vittorio De Sica directed “Bicycle Thieves,” which is an Italian movie that came out in 1948. Based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Bartolini, the movie portrays the mundane in poverty. This movie takes place in the post-World War II period and shows the importance of small things in the life of the poor and how much of a difference these things can make.
- “Slumdog Millionaire:” Showcasing a character from the biggest slum in the world — that is, the slums of Mumbai — this movie by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan went on to receive high acclaim. Introducing its audience to the hardships of the poor in India, the movie becomes a small window for the audience to get a glimpse of poverty in the country.
- “The Pursuit of Happyness:” “The Pursuit of Happyness” is a movie that portrays both hardships and strength of courage, hopelessness and optimism. Gabriele Muccino directed this movie, which is a biographical drama starring Will Smith. Showing the multi-faceted struggle that Smith’s character faces, the movie pulls at its audience’s heartstrings.
- “Les Misérables:” “Les Misérables” is a 2012 movie directed by Tom Hooper and is based on the novel (and the stage musical) by the same name. The movie addresses the themes of poverty with a large part of the movie taking place against the backdrops of prostitution and prison in 19th-century France.
- “Precious:” Lee Daniels directed this movie in 2009, which shows how poverty is not just an economic problem, but one which reaches into every aspect of an individual’s life and affects them in multiple ways. An adaptation of the 1996 novel “Push” by Sapphire, the movie is a bold portrayal of poverty in the U.S
- “Oliver Twist:” Roman Polanski directed “Oliver Twist” in 2005 and is adapted from the very famous novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. Exposing the condition of poverty in Britain during the Victorian era, the movie follows the story of a poor orphan, Oliver.
- “The Florida Project:” A 2017 movie that Sean Baker directed, “The Florida Project” is a unique movie, told from the perspective of a 6-year-old named Moonee. Filled with amazing cinematography, the movie is an accurate commentary on poverty in the U.S.
- “Capernaum:” Awarded the Jury Prize in the Cannes Film Festival, 2018 and nominated for an Oscar, “Capernaum” is a Lebanese film directed by Nadine Labaki. Acclaimed for its “documentary-like realism,” the movie is told through the perspective of 12-year-old Zain. The movie depicts the plight of the poor and mixes it with the hardships of the refugees, creating a film that strikes an emotional chord with its audience.
- “The Grapes of Wrath:” A 1940 movie, John Ford directed “The Grapes of Wrath” and is based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. The movie is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression of the 1930s and tells the story of a family of sharecroppers who lost their farm and became migrant workers in the U.S.
Although cinema and poverty might seem worlds apart, these 10 movies are a good place to start if one wants to understand poverty in an emotional way, a way that allows one to sympathize with the challenges impoverished individuals face.
– Manasvi Kadian