Perseverance and self-belief are some of the most important values that we hope to instil in young people here at Be-Zing, and sometimes they can be difficult to figure out! Oftentimes it’s only when going through difficult times and being faced with challenging situations ourselves what we learn the true nature of these things, and it can be difficult to make them more than a sort of abstract idea in your head. However, if you do ever find yourself struggling to persevere, in situations big or small, we’ve compiled a short list of movies which deal with characters who faced obstacles in their path that appeared impossible to get through, but pushed through them thanks to deep self-belief and unwillingness to give up.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne, who is locked away in Shawshank Prison for life for a crime he didn’t commit. Over the course of his nearly 20 years in prison, and numerous awful, life-altering events occurring, Andy feels close to giving up, but never quite does. His hope for better days never runs out, and he remains persistent at creating a better life for both himself and those around him. His efforts in the face of adversity pay off in the end, with Andy escaping and reuniting with his dearest friend from prison. It goes without saying that many of us will experience times in our life where it seems there’s not much chance of succeeding, but it’s stories like The Shawshank Redemption that remind us that there’s hope to be found in even the most unlikely of places.
1976’s Rocky might be the film that most definitively fits the theme of ‘Never give up’. Sylvester Stallone’s title character begins the film as a part-time boxer who is down on his luck, coming from a poor background with little education and few prospects in his life. Through a stroke of life he is offered a shot at the heavyweight championship. At many points throughout the film Rocky experiences moments where he’s close to giving up on the fight, feeling like he’s not good enough after having received little respect for much of his career. However, he’s driven forward by his desire to prove himself as something bigger than his humble background should allow. Rocky’s sheer self-belief and determination to power on through every obstacle pays off as he gives his opponent, Apollo, the fight of his life, which is applauded by the commentators as one of the greatest in history. “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.”
The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech follows the true story of King George VI’s (formerly Prince Albert) efforts back in the 1930s to beat his debilitating speech impediment, a severe stutter, which has dictated many aspects of his life and left him a shy, introverted man. Colin Firth in the lead role fantastically and authentically illustrates the hurdles which people who stutter face, psychologically, socially and even physically. The people who surround him don’t seem to understand and throughout the film you’ll get a taste of the humiliation and self-doubt that hangs like a shadow over him at all times. Through sheer dedication however, Albert is able to slowly but surely progress past his impediment with the help of his speech therapist, who later becomes one of his closest friends. By the conclusion of the film, the King is able to deliver a rousing speech to the nation with barely any trace of his formerly severe stutter, after years of perseverance to overcome the vast barriers that self-doubt and fear of failure can seem like.
Our second true story on the list is 2016’s Lion, which follows the almost unbelievable life story of Saroo Brierly, who at just 5 years old was separated from his poverty-stricken family after falling asleep on a train. Overcoming perilous obstacles like would-be kidnappers from such a young age could easily transform a person and leave them feeling hopeless, but Saroo continues to move along. Saroo moves to Australia with his adopted family and eventually becomes a top student at his university, but is plagued by hazy memories of his former life: food he ate, his loving mother and siblings- but locating them seems a lifetime away. He begins using Google Earth to exahaustively search for his hometown, and for a time it feels fruitless. But, after struggling through even more hardships which we won’t reveal, Saroo is rewarded for his tremendous efforts and finds what he is looking for. Since this is a comparitively more recent film than the rest on our list, we won’t give too much away, but this is a truly heartwarming tale of real-life perseverance and how people from the humblest of backgrounds can overcome gargantuan obstacles.
Another true story with a spot on our list is Erin Brockovich, which tells the story of a determined single mother who becomes instrumental in securing justice for a town affected by the corrupt dealings of a huge multinational energy corporation. Beginning the film jobless, Erin takes a role at a local law firm and on a routine case, realises that the town’s residents are suffering from various diseases due to contamination by their energy provider, who are trying to sweep this under the rug. Brockovich tries her hardest to juggle this potentially massive case with taking care of her children- at times she feels incapable and insignificant, as one woman taking on this giant corporation with seemingly infinite resources. However, she continues pushing ahead with the wellbeing of her children and everybody around her in mind, and her resilience winds up paying off in the end.
Capping off today’s list of film is the inspirational story of Slumdog Millionaire, which details the surprise victory by Jamal Malik on the Indian version of quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Amidst the excitement of his win, it becomes apparent that the police believe cheating was involved, simply due to Jamal’s impoverished background in the slums of Mumbai, and they take him in for questioning. The only way for Jamal to prove his innocence is to recount the numerous incidents throughout his life that have led to this moment, rising from incredibly difficult circumstances time and time again to reach this high point. From his birth in one of Mumbai’s most underdeveloped slums, to the death of his mother when he was just 5, to being roped into organised crime, Jamal exercises an amazing level of perseverance and never gives up despite facing odds which might have seemed insurmountable to many.