According to Joseph Campbell, “the function of mythology is to connect you to your bliss, and find where it truly is.” Films, as one form of our modern-day mythology, can infuse us with energy and a passion for life. This exuberance can spark creativity through bringing together ideas in unique and novel ways. Finally, we are in the flow of life that Campbell describes: “Participate in the play, in the play of life… the Great Delight.”

In these eight feature films the main characters embody exuberance and creativity in luminous, numinous performances. Watching these performances trains our eyes, minds, and hearts for a most specific purpose: to see, understand, and feel the longings of our psyches for delight.

Films shown in this order:

  1. The Magic Flute
  2. Shall We Dance? (1996 Japanese film)
  3. French Cancan
  4. Reaching for the Note
  5. Day For Night
  6. Don Juan DeMarco
  7. Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden
  8. Rivers and Tides
  9. Tampopo

Late-night bonus films:

  1. Dances of Ecstasy (2009 DVD replaced the 2003 DVD)
  2. Leonard Bernstein Conducts “West Side Story” (1985 DVD)
  3. What the Universe Tells Me – Unraveling the Mysteries of Mahler’s Third Symphony

See also: Twenty Favorite Films

Photo by Mi Pham

Br. David Steindl-Rast
Francis G. Lu, M.D.

Francis G. Lu, M.D.

About the author

Francis G. Lu, M.D., is the Luke & Grace Kim Endowed Professor Emeritus in Cultural Psychiatry at the University of California, Davis. He co-led more than 20 film seminars at Esalen with Brother David Steindl-Rast from 1990 - 2016.

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.