Since the birth of the motion picture camera, writers and filmmakers have been drawing influences from philosophical teachings dating back centuries BC. However, this does not limit philosophy to film, as the practices can be seen in plays, novels, and music as well.

One of the most interesting philosophies carried on the big screen is hedonism. Allegedly founded by Aristippus of Cyrene (435-355 BC), hedonism is the practice of personal pleasure as the ultimate goal in life. This can include physical sensations, positive emotional revelations, or any kind of pleasure that brings positive energy to the mind, body, and spirit.

There is no shortage of delicious cinema. They are often portrayed as adventurous tales of the human spirit. Some may see the characters as free-spirited, loose, and happy, while others may view them as sadistic, selfish, and delirious. Sometimes hedonism can be seen as a fun adventure, while other times it can make characters plunge deeper into the darkness of the human condition. Here are 10 of the best cinema representations of hedonism, ranked.

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10 Spring Breakers (2012)

A 24

spring breakers (2012) was one of the first films to put American independent entertainment company A24 on the map. Written and directed by polarizing filmmaker Harmony Korine, this film exemplifies the hedonistic lifestyle of taking a break from the mundane and mundane college experience and unleashing your energies for a week on Florida beaches during the spring. Four college girls rob a restaurant in order to pay for their vacation to get away from reality, only to be caught and then released on bail by the criminal nicknamed “Alien”, portrayed by James Franco.

spring breakers Sick, quirky, and mildly comical. For college students, it is not uncommon for them to want to spend a whole week completely getting away and becoming a mixed human spirit flowing freely around the world, and spring breakers It is a kind of anthem for this ideology. College students Candy (Vanessa Higgins), Faith (Selena Gomez), Britt (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine) take a spin on their hedonistic aspirations, which ends up spiraling down a slippery slope of partying, binge drinking, drugs, dancing and regret.

Related: Best A24 Films Ranked

9 Infinity Pool (2023)

Two characters wearing masks.
height photos

There seems to be a tendency to polarize managers trying to take positions on hedonistic tendencies. infinity pool (2023), written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg (son of David Cronenberg), takes a more sadistic approach to the subject. Writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife, M. Foster (Cleopatra Coleman), decide to take a quiet and fun (at least they thought) vacation on a blanket beach on a fictional island. James is going through a long period of writer’s block and hopes to clear his mind, while also looking for inspiration for a new novel. Together, the pair deal with deceitful, mysterious and psychotic Gabby Bauer (Mia Guth), who claims to be a huge fan of James’ work. During a trip, James hits and kills a pedestrian with a car, which leads to a dark and spiraling journey into the island’s deeply disturbing hedonistic subculture.

infinity pool It is Hollywood’s latest “love-it-or-hate-it cinema” that involves religious rituals, cloning, torture, abuse of power, and manipulation. It would certainly be some crowd turning their cold shoulder or asking them to plead for me.

8 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Universal Pictures

Terry Gilliam Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), based on the book of the same title by Hunter S. This movie is a surreal ride that plays a free-spirited and fun take on the psychedelic drug epidemic of the time period it’s based on, the ’70s.

Johnny Depp plays an eccentric journalist named Raoul Duke. He and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), take part in a glamorous road trip to Las Vegas, where the only thing they need to survive other than water and gas is a load of drugs.

7 Holy Mountain (1973)

ABKCO Movies

Probably one of the weirdest movies you’ll ever come across, holy mountain (1973) is a dreamscape directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, a hypnotic trance about spiritual rebellion, and a gang of greedy characters seeking immortality. In this movie, hedonism isn’t necessarily a goal set by any character. Instead, it is about characters who already have hedonistic qualities looking for a way to extend their stay on Earth, thus expanding their practice and pursuit of pleasure.

6 Trainspotting (1996)

Ewan McGregor smokes a cigarette
Polygram Filmed Entertainment

One common means of representing hedonism in pop culture and art is drug use and abuse. In this case, the drug is heroin, which is “heroin” that comes from the poppy plant. in trainspotting (1996), director Danny Boyle confronts the British subculture of tasty drug use head-on through the narrative of Renton, played by Ewan McGregor. Renton makes the conscious choice, experiencing the sheer pleasure that this drug brings to him in practically every aspect of his productive life. He even claims it’s “1,000 times better than the best orgasm.”

5 Thelma and Louise (1991)

Thelma and Louise take a picture

Just two friends and a gun. An essential element of women’s empowerment and freedom in modern cinema, Thelma and Louise (1991) does not shy away from the heroine’s characters’ exercise in hedonism. In this case, their departure from the real world and philosophy is triggered by a specific event. Thelma (Geena Davis), a housewife, and Louise (Susan Sarandon), a waitress, join each other for a short fishing trip. Their short vacation soon turns into an escape from the law after Louise kills a man who was trying to rape Thelma in the parking lot of a pub.

Thelma and Louise are the opposite in personality. Thelma is the wild card of the duo, not afraid to strike up a conversation with anyone or dance with a stranger as if no one was looking. Louise is more reserved, cautious and, quite frankly, boring. The murder to protect her friends triggers an adventurous muscle in Louise’s brain, which, most likely, could have ever opened.

Thelma and Louise is a loose, fun adventure about friendship more than anything else, as well as the subtle art of not caring.

4 Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman dancing
Warner Bros.

If drug use is a popular form of hedonism, then it goes without saying that so is erotica. closed eyes (1999) is Stanley Kubrick’s final film and it certainly did not enter the world without controversy. Briefly, closed eyes It centers around Dr. William (Bill) Harford (Tom Cruise) who enters an ethereal nocturnal odyssey after discovering that his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) has been pining for another man.

This particular film’s example of hedonism is about the world the characters are pushed into, rather than the individual ideologies of the characters. One scene in particular that is now seen as one of the most iconic, yet divisive, scenes in Kubrick’s catalog is the ritual-like orgy scene. With his wife’s infidelity still on his mind, Bill wanders into the night seeking sexual pleasure as his own way of coming to terms with the revealing conversation he had with his wife. It begins with Marion, the daughter of one of his dead patients, who tries to seduce Bill. denies it. Then he meets a prostitute named Domino. Afterwards, Bill’s friend Nick tells him about a masked sex party. Bill then infiltrates the party, but is immediately compromised because he is not recognized by the other participants.

closed eyes, In short, an example of seeking personal pleasure in escaping from your problems rather than facing them directly.

3 Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream (2000)
thousand words

Sometimes, hedonism can lead down a very dark path, and at some point, one has to realize that there are things in life that are far more important and desirable than personal pleasure. Many people use drugs to enhance their experience of the world around them, while others use them as a substitute for the world around them. Requiem for a dream (2000) explores the latter.

Written for the screen and directed by Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a dreamIt tells the story of four different citizens of Coney Island (Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans) and their drug-addicted utopia. Over the course of the story, all of their utopias turn dystopian and prove to do more harm than good.

2 Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude
Paramount Pictures

Who would have thought that a young man obsessed with death and a free spirit so old could share such a sweet connection? Harold and Maude (1971) shows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that a glorious and happy life can be had across the spectrum of life. Directed by the late Hal Ashby, this film is considered one of the finest black comedies ever made, telling a taboo-breaking story about hedonism and the preservation of the human spirit.

Harold (Bud Cort) is a wealthy teenager who pulls off elaborate suicidal pranks to scare girls away from his parents, which gets him a date and possibly marriage. While attending a stranger’s funeral (it can be assumed he does regularly), he meets the mysterious Maud (Ruth Gordon) and begins to develop an unrealistic romantic attraction towards the septuagenarian. Together, they roam the country’s streets in search of pure fun, laughter, and memories, with a couple of stolen scoops along the way.

Related: These Are Afonso Cuarón’s Best Rated Movies

1 Y tu mamá también (2001)

Producciones Anhelo

It should surprise no one that cinema’s delicious climax comes not from a place of tragedy, but rather a straightforward, happy road trip involving three individuals who embody the true meaning of being a fanatic: keeping the moment in front of you. Alfonso Cuaron’s 2001 masterpiece Y tu mamá también (and your mom too) It presents the story of two teenage best friends Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal) who convince a beautiful and seductive older woman named Luisa (Maribel Verdo) to accompany them on a road trip.

Together, the trio of characters learn some lessons about life, themselves, sex, love, and each other. As bittersweet as it is, Y tu mamá también It will leave audiences longing for a worry-free wild ride with the people they love the most.


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