Midnight Express (1978)

Midnight Express is the true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. The film’s title is prison slang for a prisoner’s escape attempt, which is something Billy tries to do multiple times only to be recaptured and brutally beaten by the guards. One of the most famous things about the film is its soundtrack, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1979.

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

This film depicts the experiences of Welsh diplomat and military officer Thomas Edward Lawrence in the Arabian Peninsula during WWI. It documents the officer’s emotional struggles with the violence which is inherent in war, his own identity and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and his comrades within the Arabian desert tribes. A truly epic masterpiece!

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now is loosely based on the famous book by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, which itself was written after the real events of the author’s life. In this redux of the narrative, set during the Vietnam War, Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel (Marlon Brando) who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe and is presumed to be insane. Oh yea, and what a score by The Doors!

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Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Alcatraz, based on an island in San Francisco Bay, was the most secure prison of its time. It was believed to be impossible to escape from until three daring men (the leader played by Clint Eastwood, and his accomplices by Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau) made a successful attempt at it in 1962. The success of their daring is still in dispute, but this enthralling narrative is a fine examination of the facts and fantasies.

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Into the Wild (2007)

A movie about one man’s spiritual journey through the natural world, Into the Wild reflects the many conflicts and problems that trouble those uneasy with a materialist life. It’s underpinned with a wish to be free and independent, escape the norms of society and discover transcendence in nature. After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and eventually hitch hikes to Alaska to follow his dream. Cue Alexander Supertramp – the legend that was to be.

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300 (2006)

This film tells the story of the Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 men who fought the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place between Greece and Persia (modern day Iran) in 480BC. With Gerard Butler as the King and Lena Headey (aka Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones) as his queen, the film combines stunning visuals with great acting and makes history come to life.

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The Imitation Game (2014)

This compelling movie starring the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Sherlock) in the main role, tells the story of mathematician Alan Turing, who tries to crack the enigma code which the Nazis used to provide security for their radio messages during WWII. Turing is a genius but very difficult to work with, as he considers his colleagues inferior to him. However, he will have to overcome the mathematical and social difficulties both if he is to succeed.

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