Movies that are really hard to watch

Harsh movies that are really hard to watch are usually based on fact. Most of them don’t have a so-called ‘happy’ ending but do have enough of a silver lining at the end that the audience isn’t completely devastated. These movies grab you and show you something you’d never seen like that before, and will never see quite the same again.

Samson and Delilah

I saw this movie years ago but the memory of this movie has stayed with me as if I only saw it yesterday.

It starts off in a remote community in Central Australia, and in Warlpiri language. It follows young Samson, who is addicted to petrol-sniffing and can’t think straight or talk much, and Delilah who is a strong, traditional young woman, when they leave their families behind to go to the big smoke of Alice Springs. This movie is not pretty. It’s hard and gritty and realistic about what really happens to kids like this and despair permeates scene after scene like a rotting corpse. There’s not much hope here, not much to hold onto. It’s almost unbearable to watch. But like all good movies, Samson and Delilah gives you just enough of a ray of sunshine at the end that you can bear all you have been through. A glimpse of goodness, and love, and even hope.

To watch the whole movie on SBS on Demand go to: Samson and Delilah

See: Samson and Delilah – Trailer .

Song for a Raggy Boy

Song for a Raggy Boy is about boys being abused by priests. This movie was really hard to watch. My heart was squeezed to my chest. While watching it and afterwards, I was shattered.

Again, Raggy Boy has a kind of silver lining at the end, for some at least. Enough to lift your heart so it feels sorrow and relief instead of dull despair. I won’t be ready to watch it again for another few years at least; maybe ever. But I do recommend you watch it once.

See: Song for a Raggy Boy – Trailer


This movie isn’t as harsh as the above movies, but it did kill me a little bit while I was watching it.

This movie is not about women. It’s about men. Real men versus wankers, good men versus arseholes, grown men versus boys, and the fact that black men and white men are all the same under the skin. It’s also about poverty and friendship and goodness.

Joe is a real man, living in a small town in southern USA; he lives day to day, just holding it together, trying to stay out of trouble in a violent world. He becomes friends with a 15-year-old boy who has an alcoholic abusive father, a worn-out mum who gave up hope long ago and a silent little sister (‘one day she just stopped talking’). There’s a lot of despair and pain in this movie. But there’s also enough love to keep you going and watch it till the end which shows that good people really can make the world a better place.

See: Joe – Trailer

Other movies that have been really hard to watch

There are plenty of other movies I’ve found almost unbearable to watch but which were well worth the effort. Here are a few:

  • Oranges and Sunshine – full movie on Youtube: about the survivors of the ‘stolen generations’ of English kids sent by the British government to Australia, where they were abused in institutions.
  • Slumdog Millionaire (full movie, Youtube): set in India: about poverty, child abuse and the capacity for human kindness, love and goodness despite all odds.
  • The Roundup – Trailer: I’ve watched a lot of movies about The Holocaust but this one hit me harder and more personally than most. It shows the French government’s collusion with the German Nazis which resulted in many thousands of men, women and children being gassed.
  • Toomelah – website and trailer: Oh, this was a hard movie to watch. The environment is poverty, despair, abuse, violence. But still, there is a chance of love and hope.

Movies you’ve found really hard to watch

I am drawn to movies about human suffering, the ability of humans to inflict pain on one another, what people are capable of doing for money/power and what they’re prepared to do to survive, because I crave to understand the shadowy aspects of humanity: what makes us tick and/or stop ticking.

If you’ve seen a movie that was really harsh to watch but opened a window for you to understand things in a different way, I would love to hear about it.

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