10 Films About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that may develop in people who have experienced a traumatic event. While it’s widely associated with veterans returning from war, victims of sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, or robbery, any serious physical or psychological injury can be affected by this disorder.
Data suggests than estimated 24 million people are living with PTSD at any given time in the United States. Many of them turn to drugs or alcohol to help ease the emotional pain, resulting in a co-occurring disorder.
Here’s a List of 10 Films About PTSD
1. The Deer Hunter (1978)
This is a heart-wrenching and gritty film about four friends from a working class town in Pennsylvania who enlist and leave for the Vietnam War. Three of the friends are captured and held in a brutal POW camp. Though they manage to survive, they are separated.
The film follows their difficult, and at times tragic, lives after their escape. The Deer Hunter won five Academy Awards and stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep among others.
2. Coming Home (1978)
This Vietnam related drama takes place in California. Bob Hyde, played by actor Bruce Dern, is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and is deployed to Vietnam. His wife, Sally, played by Jane Fonda, is left behind.
With little to do, she finds herself volunteering at a local VA hospital where she meets a paraplegic soldier back from Vietnam, played by Jon Voight. As their relationship deepens, Voight’s character, Luke Martin, transforms Sally’s beliefs and views about the war.
By the time her husband returns, wounded, and suffering PTSD from his experiences in the war, Sally and Luke are having an affair. Coming Home is known for its symbolic last scenes, and it garnered both Fonda and Voight Academy Awards.
3. Born On The Fourth of July (1989)
Born On The Fourth of July, directed and co-written by Oliver Stone, follows the story of Ron Kovic, a U.S. Marine sergeant, played by Tom Cruise. Kovic serves two tours in Vietnam before being wounded and returning paralyzed from the chest down.
His experiences in the war, and later at the VA Hospital in the Bronx, left him psychologically wounded as well. His transition back into regular life is difficult due to anti-war sentiment and the noticeable difference in the way that people are treating him.
Misunderstood by his family and friends and presenting signs of PTSD, Kovic turns to drugs and alcohol for relief. Kovic’s journey leads him to join Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
4. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a tender and comic coming of age story about an introverted freshman named Charlie who’s taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, that help him navigate the world of high school and relationships.
Charlie has periodic flashbacks of the car accident in which his aunt died. Patrick is forced to watch his boyfriend, Brad, beaten up by his father after the boys are discovered having sex. Sam, played by Emma Watson, struggles to make sense of the complicated relationships she always seems to develop with people.
5. First Blood (1982)
Sylvester Stallone stars as John Rambo in First Blood, a decorated Vietnam veteran returning from the war only to discover that he is the last surviving member of his elite Special Forces unit. He is mistreated and wrongfully jailed by a local small-town sheriff, played by Brian Dennehy.
While being held, the cruel local deputies torment Rambo who begins having flashbacks to his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Once Rambo snaps, all hell breaks loose and the National Guard is called in to stop him.
6. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
This compelling and sometimes horrific film stars Tim Robbins as Jacob Singer, a troubled Vietnam war veteran who awakens in a New York City Subway, dressed as a mailman and clutching a copy of The Stranger.
Jacob suffers from a severe case of PTSD, not only from serving in the war, but also of losing his son, Gabe, in a car accident, which results in a divorce from his wife. This story twists and turns as Jacob learns he was secretly given a drug called “The Ladder” by military officials.
He is plagued by terrible hallucinations, and questions whether or not he was actually in the war or just a drug testing facility in Thailand.
Jacob’s Ladder ends with a flashback to his actual death in an Army triage tent in Vietnam. Robbins received critical acclaim for his performance, and the film still has a large following.
7. Forrest Gump (1992)
This epic film follows a southern simpleton named Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, through some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the Vietnam war where saves the lives of four men and is shot in the butt.
Gary Sinise stars as 2nd Lt. Dan Taylor, one of the men that Forrest saved. Taylor, who lost both his legs, suffers from PTSD, and is angry with Forrest for saving his life.
In a promise to Bubba, who died on the battlefield, Forrest starts a shrimping business. Lt. Dan joins him and in a compelling moment, in the middle of a hurricane, he faces his demons at the top of a sailing mast.
Bubba Gump Shrimp becomes a huge success because the hurricane destroyed their competition. This film won Academy Awards in many different categories.
8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This universally acclaimed film with a star-studded cast, directed by Steven Spielberg takes place during World War II. The film contains some of the most moving, visceral and violent scenes ever undertaken with regard to the Normandy Invasion and the American forces taking of Omaha Beach.
The story of Saving Private Ryan follows a unit of soldiers assigned to find and bring home Private James Francis Ryan, whose three brothers are killed during the war, leaving him as his family’s last child.
Along the way, viewers see the toll the war has taken on the hearts and minds of this unit, their occasional contempt for their mission, and their struggle to bring Ryan home alive.
9. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Iron Man aka Tony Stark, a longtime Marvel Comic’s character, played by Robert Downey Jr., is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his involvement in an alien war invasion that nearly destroyed the planet.
Experiencing frequent panic attacks, Stark turns his restless energy toward creating more Iron Man suits, unwittingly causing friction with his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Stark must now find and destroy the terrorist known only as The Mandarin.
By the end of the movie, Stark undergoes surgery to remove years old shrapnel near his heart, therefore removing his surgically implanted chest protector, the one thing that truly made him Iron Man.
10. Mystic River (2003)
Based on the bestselling novel, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, Clint Eastwood directs a cast of amazing actors, including Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon in this crime thriller. In 1975, in a Boston neighborhood, three boys are playing hockey when two sexual predators posing as cops abduct one of the boys, Dave.
In present time, these boys, Jimmy, Sean and Dave, all live in the same neighborhood, though Dave, played by Tim Robbins, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder related to his sexual abduction and torture.
When Jimmy’s daughter shows up murdered, a cloud of suspicion is cast on Dave. Sean, now a detective with the Massachusetts States Police, must get to the bottom of the murder before neighborhood justice is doled out.
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