“Question Reality” was always one of my favorite bumper stickers and some movies actually provoke this reaction in viewers.
Lots of movies of recent years can be said to be “consciousness expanding” in one form or another. In trying to put together a brief but meaningful list, I decided to exclude certain types of films -specifically documentaries and movies whose action or special effects aspects outweighed their mind expanding qualities, at least IMO.
This list is obviously incomplete and highly subjective! I will publish more lists of this kind in the future.
Some of these films have already been reviewed on this site, in which case I’ll include a link to the review.
Dark City (1998)
The premise is that the reality we experience is a false construct, created by an alien race. This has some of the same concepts covered in The Matrix, but I believe in a more thoughtful and less hyped up manner. This basic idea goes back to Plato and Gnosticism and is at least as relevant today as in ancient times!
What the Bleep do We Know? (2004)
Ok, this one is at least 1/2 documentary (though skeptical critics say it’s pure fiction, naturally), but since it also includes many dramatized sequences, it can’t be said to be a true doc. Whether you agree with its interpretation of quantum physics or not, it’s certainly extremely thought provoking.
Waking Life (2001)
Richard Linklater’s animated exploration of philosophy, consciousness and the perennial question -“How do I know I’m not dreaming right now?” This will be of particular interest to anyone fascinated with lucid dreaming. Waking Life has recently been added to Netflix Streaming.
Mr. Nobody (2009)
I just saw this recently, so it’s fresh in my mind. This film explores the fascinating possibility of multiple timelines. Rather than wondering about the road not taken, imagine if many roads are taken, but in different realities!
The Stunt Man (1980)
I’m listing this one partly because it’s a great film that’s not very well known. While many movies have dealt with the boundaries between movies and real life collapsing, none does it better than The Stunt Man, where an egoistical director played by Peter O’Toole orchestrates events that have life or death consequences.