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Contemplative Cinema Starter Pack

By: © <',))( Astro-T​ofuprax​ographe​r

Ooooh, a list. Totally subjective choices, of course, and some of them I haven’t seen, I just know they’re contemplative by reputation. The List is still a work in progress, I’ll add more when they come to mind, and of course, suggestions would be welcome.

I’m just going to steal the description from the Unspoken Cinema blog
“the kind that rejects conventional narration to develop almost essentially through minimalistic visual language and atmosphere alone, without the help of music, dialogue, melodrama, action-montage, and the star system.”

Harry Tuttle also added: “…it could be confusing to mix in certain films that feature a general “minimalistic” narrative, but still use dialogue as an important narrative drive. My Dinner With André doesn’t exist without its dialogue. Most of the film content is articulated through this conversation. But I agree its mise en scène is minimalist in its own way.
Same problem with the major voiceover/dialogue in The Inner Scar, The Sacrifice, L’Eclisse, Broken Flowers, Two-Lane Blacktop, 24 City, Chronicle of a Chinese Woman… and a couple others are arguable.
If the film provides narrative signposts, clues, walkthrough with words, it doesn’t let the spectator figure all out by contemplating at the images alone. Minimal dialogue doesn’t distract as far as it doesn’t spell out character’s motives, personality, intentions to cue a following scene. Especially mundane conversations that have nothing to do with the film’s principal narrative; it just gives a natural slice of life for these characters without constructing an artificial narrative drive.”*

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*I included the films Harry mentioned in the list anyway since they can be good starting points before delving into the stricter models of contemplative cinema.

I’ve basically picked films that provide a nice antidote to today’s overstimulating, overloading films. Most of the films of this list just put me in a relaxed state, sometimes, all I just want to see are un-narrated moving images.

For further reading, check this out.

Rounding up the usual suspects:

Peter Hutton

Bela Tarr

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Chantal Akerman

Lav Diaz

Tsai Ming-liang

Alexandr Sokurov

Sharunas Bartas

Wang Bing

Lisandro Alonso

Pedro Costa

Claire Denis

James Benning

Well, what would this list be without clips?

lost in a moment from dennis wheatley on Vimeo.

Let Each One Go Where He May (EXCERPT) from Ben Russell on Vimeo.

A big thanks to RET for adding more contemplative films to the Auteurs database.




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Jay Co


Thanks for a great list! I was looking for movies to watch while writing music--and had in mind movies like Ulysses's Gaze, Nostalghia, and Millennium Mambo. To find a list that is built around this feeling is really fantastic. Thank you!

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Sean P


may i recommend the films of jon jost? The Bed You Sleep In in particular.

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