Freedom and all the ways to achieve it have always been one of the most interesting topics covered in various movies of different genres. Whether stories of escapes, slavery, or individual destinies, these movies are always sending an important message and giving us the courage to deal with some of the difficulties we might encounter in our everyday lives. This is the list of the 20 best movies about freedom of all time.
Mel Gibson is not only a talented actor but maybe even a more talented director who directed one of the most beloved and successful movies of all time, an ode to freedom. This biographical historic drama tells the story of a Scottish warrior named William Wallace who is determined to free his country from the tyranny of King Edward I of England.
Wallace is a rebel who lost his father and brother when he was just a young boy. They died fighting for Scotland’s freedom so little William grew up without his family. But when he loses another of his loved ones, he begins his long quest to make his homeland a free country, with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
12 Years a Slave
Up next we have a movie about civil rights. In 12 Years a Slave, we follow Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is solved into slavery. Not used to the cruelty he has to face from his evil and malevolent slave owner, Solomon will have to struggle to stay alive but also retain his dignity.
In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, he will meet a Canadian abolitionist who will change his life forever. Solomon’s fight for freedom is truly a remarkable and unforgettable story full of adventure, unexpected kindness, and unimaginable cruelty.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
One of the best adaptations of all time and one of the best movies in general, this prison drama with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in leading roles will make you look at freedom in a different way. It is a story about two imprisoned men who share their cell for years and are bound to bond and form an everlasting friendship.
Robbins plays Andy Dufresne, a formerly successful banker who has been found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. He finds himself in the gloomy and somewhat dangerous Shawshank prison where he meets an array of interesting inmates, all with their own stories. Andy is a calm and clever man who seems to have been dealing with his situation but he yearns for freedom as much as anyone else inside these cells.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
This interesting adventure drama tells the story of the last members of a dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans and their quest to save the daughters of a British colonel. Uncas, his father Chingachgook, and his adopted half-white brother Hawkeye live alongside British colonists.
They feel obligated to aid the colonel whose daughters are kidnapped by a traitorous scout and soon find themselves in the middle of a war they never had any plans of getting themselves into, the French and Indian war.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the best movies of all time and a big criticism of the medical and especially psychiatric behavior toward patients. This Milos Forman heartbreaking drama tells the story of a few patients who live inside a mental institution. It is also a plea for freedom, a call for the ones who are not important and often neglected.
Everything seemed to be fine until the arrival of a Korean War veteran and criminal who is admitted there after pleading insanity. Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy, a rebel with a criminal past who doesn’t want to go to prison anymore so he invents his insanity and upon meeting everyone at the institution, he begins his rally against the oppressive Nurse Ratched, who is constantly abusing and degrading MacMurphy and other patients.
One of Steven Spielberg’s most interesting and important movies is this biographical historical drama with Djimon Honsou, Matthew McConaughey, and Sir Anthony Hopkins in leading roles. It takes place in 1839 on a slave ship called Amistad which is traveling from Cuba to the US.
It is full of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba and now have to cross the border. But just upon their crossing, a mutiny arises on the ship when Cinque, who was a tribal leader in Africa decides to take over the ship. Instead of traveling back to Africa, they were misdirected and imprisoned as runaway slaves in the USA. This is when their fight for freedom begins, with help of an abolitionist lawyer.
Into the Wild (2007)
Sean Penn directed this inspiring and free-spirited biographical adventure drama about Christopher McCandless, a top student, and athlete who after graduating from Emory University decides to hitchhike to Alaska and live in the wilderness.
He gave his entire 24 000 dollars of savings to charity and abandons all his possessions and family and friends and along this interesting way of his, he encounters many unforgettable and intriguing characters who shape his life.
The Intouchables (2011)
This unforgettable, beautiful, and touching French drama shows what freedom means to various different types of people and it brings us closer to two completely opposite men who find happiness and solace in each other’s company and friendship. Phillipe is a quadriplegic millionaire who lives in Paris and is in constant need of a carer but can’t seem to find anyone he will be satisfied with.
Until he meets the poor and easy-going Driss who asks him to sign a document that proves that he is seeking a job position to receive an unemployment benefit. Somehow Driss ends up as Phillipe’s caretaker and shows him what freedom means when there is someone who is always by your side and isn’t afraid to take risks together with you.
For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada (2012)
This movie gives an insight into the 1920s Cristeros War and it unfolds its true story. It is the story of men and women who decide to risk it all for their families, country, and faith. It shows how far they are willing to go the pay the price for freedom.
It is a historical drama about the three-year-long war which was led by the people of Mexico against the atheistic Mexican government.
V for Vendetta (2005)
One of the greatest and most important movies about freedom is this sci-fi action drama set in a future British dystopian society. It introduces us to a freedom fighter, known only as “V” who decides to overthrow the tyrannical government.
He is aided by Evey Hammond, a young woman who soon becomes the number one enemy of the state when she accepts to follow his plan. She is reluctant at first but their bond becomes extremely strong during their months together.
Point Break (1991)
One of the movies which first comes to mind when we talk about people’s freedom and the feeling of wanting something more and wider than we are in is this action drama. It follows the story of a young F.B.I. agent Johnny Utah who is sent to work undercover and infiltrate himself inside a group of Californian surfers.
He has to gather the information that would lead him and his colleagues to find a group of gang robbers who commit crimes wearing the masks of ex-presidents. Utah befriends their leader Bodhi and is soon drawn into his unusual and free-spirited lifestyle.
The Patriot (2000)
This adventure drama The Patriot, tells the heartbreaking story of a french-Indian war hero Benjamin Martin and his family who live in 1776 in colonial South Carolina. Benjamin is haunted by his past and his only wish now is to live peacefully and completely detached from the current war against Great Britain.
His oldest sons, on the other hand, can’t wait to enlist in the army. When South Carolina decides to join the rebellion against England, his son Gabriel immediately signs up, without Benjamin’s permission. From this moment on, Benjamin’s life begins to change, leading from tragedy to tragedy and he will find himself torn between protecting his family and seeking revenge.
Spartacus is the Bible of all the gladiator movies and along with that one of the most important freedom movies, the influence numerous movies and tv series in the future, this excellent historical drama brings us the story of Spartacus, the greatest gladiator of all time. Kirk Douglas excels as Spartacus, a Thracian slave who becomes the leader of one of the greatest uprisings ever.
He decides to fight all the mighty who tortured him and his fellow fighters, setting out to defeat the decadent Roman Republic and at the same time having to battle Crassus, who is determined to gain power by crushing his rebellion.
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Kevin Costner directed and starred in this unforgettable western drama about Lt. John Dunbar who is proclaimed a war hero after he accidentally led Union troops to a victory during the Civil War. But since he is assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, he soon realizes that his country is full of diversities the military doesn’t admit.
He meets a wolf he names “Two-socks” who befriends a curious Indian tribe and discovers a white woman who was raised by them. He will gradually earn their respect and leave his white-man ways, at the same time becoming a huge problem for the military.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
One of the greatest women’s movies of all time, glorifying their freedom and strength, and bravery to rebel against men’s world and the expectations they should fulfill. It is the story of two women, two best friends who find themselves on the run from a crime one of them committed.
Thelma is a diner waitress whose boyfriend is never home and Louise spends her days in the kitchen where her husband likes her to be so one day they decide to leave their normal lives and hit the road. Their adventure soon becomes much more than a cry for freedom and they find themselves hunted by the police.
The French Revolution (1989)
This is an interesting war thriller-drama that brings us the history of the French Revolution from the moment King Louis XVI decides to convene the Etats-Generaux in 1789. The movie is divided into two parts where the first part is the story from 1789 to 1792 when Louis lost his authority and was sent to prison.
The second part tells the story until the end of the Revolution in 1794 and includes the deaths by the guillotine of King Louis, Marie-Antoinette, Danton, and Desmoulins.
The Truman Show (1998)
This brilliant and pretty terrifying movie directed by Peter Weir shows us, Jim Carrey, in a role completely different from his well-known comedic performances. It is a drama about Truman Burbank whose whole life has been a big life.
He discovered that he has been filmed for nearly thirty years and that people across the globe have been following every step of his life. Upon realizing what is hiding behind it all, Truman will begin to try and find ways to gain his freedom and do everything to stay free for the rest of his life.
One of the best and most quoted and discussed gladiator movies and movies about freedom is Gladiator which tells the story of a former Roman General who decides to seek revenge against the corrupt emperor who killed his family and sent him into slavery.
Directed by the remarkable Ridley Scott, with Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix in the leading roles, this excellent historical drama gives us all the details about the fights in the arena, brilliantly depicts the differences between slaves and their owners and all the cruelty these men had to endure in order to satisfy someone’s primal drives.
The Way Back (2010)
Another Peter Weir’s excellent drama about the fight for freedom, this time about a group of Siberian gulag escapees who embark on an escape adventure. They begin a four thousand miles long journey by foot to India.
It is 1939 and this movie tells the story of four men and a young girl who escaped during a snowstorm while trying to get their freedom, they will have to face different difficult natural disasters but also deal with many moral and ethical dilemmas.
Django Unchained (2012)
This excellent drama is masterfully directed by Quentin Tarantino and with a brilliant cast including Jamie Fox, Leonardo di Caprio, and Christoph Waltz is a must-watch.
The movie talks about a bounty hunter named King Schultz who seeks the help of a slave Django., brilliantly played by Jamie Foxx. After Django helps him the two remain together in order to find Django’s wife Broomhilda. When they find out where she was taken, Django and Schultz come up with a plan for how to get close to the owner of the Mississippi-based plantation.