Tilda Swinton's 5 Favorite Tales of Human Kindness

Tilda Swinton
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What About Bob?

'The must-see movie for all psychiatrists and neurotics alike—and the rest. My family watches this film pretty much on a monthly basis. Bill Murray making appreciative noises at Julie Hagerty's dining table has long been an imitated feature of special dinners in our house.'

To Be or Not To Be

“By Ernst Lubitsch. Simply one of the funniest, cleverest, silliest, and—given that it was made during the Second World War—maybe most breathtakingly courageous films in existence. Jack Benny, beyond hilarious, and Carole Lombard, surely the wittiest screen beauty of all time, play actors acting themselves out of Nazi-occupied Poland. The switchback between the ridiculous and the chilling is ingenious. All in all, sublime.”

My Neighbor Totoro

“The practical magic of childhood: two little sisters move to a new home in the country with their father, and their mother’s in hospital. New school, new neighbors, house and wood spirits. Hayao Miyazaki’s universe is reliably recognizable precisely because of the ease with which it accepts the wonder at every turn that being 5 (or 10) entails. At its heart, of course, is the bond of love, the infallible wisdom of nature, and the true company of invisible friends.”

A Canterbury Tale

“Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s elegy to the idyll of culture in the face of war, the garden of England and its mystical history—and to the comradeship of allies. A film about home, homesickness, the blessings of pilgrimage, sacrifice, and miracles. One of my very personal favorite films: a handmade war film about peace, a film about a kind of springtime spirit—new beginnings after long endurance.”

Sullivan’s Travels

“The great antidote for all those who have seen—let alone made—one too many scrupulously honest and heavy-hearted films this year. Another film about kindness—I realize I have chosen five of them. The image of the film director dressed as a tramp, off to see the miseries of the world, complete with handkerchief hung on a stick, followed at a discreet distance by an Airstream equipped with full staff including short-order cook, is one of the great images of the cinema. Robert Greig’s butler’s speech about poverty is Preston Sturges having it all: acerbic commentary plus serenely comic observation in one. Beautiful Joel McCrea and the tiny, golden Veronica Lake make Hollywood a dream pool worth falling into with your clothes on. But not without—crucially—making ’em laugh and teaching us to value that fact above every other thing a film can do.”