17 Best Movies About Courage and Bravery

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A good movie is more than just a source of entertainment.

Although books can also entertain us, movies serve as an easier medium with which to tell stories. Moreover, watching a film can bring a number of people together all at once, such as in a family movie night.

A good film can be a treasure trove of lessons we can apply in our lives. A well-crafted movie can deepen our appreciation for the arts and inspire us to create changes we want to see in our lives and society.

For example, movies about courage show us how to face life’s challenges head on.

An essential life skill for success, courage is often defined as a person’s ability to face dangers without fear.

However, there are different ways in which courage can manifest as well.

Criteria for Choosing Movies That Depict Bravery and Courage

For this collection, we’ve chosen films that depict a number of different types of courage:

  • The courage to be yourself, especially when your self-expression goes against the status quo.
  • The courage to stand up for what’s right and fight against injustice.
  • The courage to embrace change, especially in societies locked in stifling traditions.
  • The courage to be true to your dreams, even in the face of ridicule and doubt from the rest of society.
  • The courage to brave the unknown and its potential dangers.
  • The courage to admit mistakes and make up for them.
  • The courage to overcome fears and embrace the future.

Let’s check out our collection of movies about courage!

1. Brave

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First on the list is Disney and Pixar’s 2012 animated movie Brave. Set in medieval Scotland, this movie is mainly about a mother-daughter relationship and the courage to admit mistakes and make up for them.

In this film, Princess Merida is at odds with her mother. The princess, who happens to be a skilled archer, is opposed to her mother’s plan to choose someone to be Merida’s husband.

Because of her impetuousness, Merida makes a poor decision that threatens her family. She regrets what she did and has to find a way to undo the harm she’s caused.

2. Spirited Away

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Produced by Japan’s Studio Ghibli in 2001, this film was dubbed in English and released by Disney in the United States in 2002. It tells the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new house with her parents.

On the way to their new house, Chihiro and her family stumble upon what they initially think is an abandoned amusement park, but that turns out to be a portal to the Spirit World, where Chihiro’s parents meet an unfortunate fate.

Chihiro must gather her courage to survive the Spirit World and rescue her parents.

3. Black Panther

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This movie is a wonderful example of courage, not just in its story, but also in its production.

Black Panther is a story of a prince who must have the courage to save his people and embrace his true destiny.

According to observers, the production of this movie was an act of bravery in itself. When it was released, it was the first major superhero film to feature major characters, actors, and a director who were all of African descent. It paved the way for people of color to have greater representation in Hollywood.

4. October Sky

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This movie is about having the courage to follow one’s dreams, even when the people who matter the most don’t offer their support.

Based on true events, this film follows Homer Hickam, a young man who built his own rocket with the help of his friends.

Meanwhile, his father, John Hickam, expects him to work at the coal mines. John and other people in town think that the rocket is just a waste of time.

What must Homer do to change his father and the townspeople’s minds about his endeavor?

5. The Pianist

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This movie depicts the courage to keep one’s optimism intact and survive despite tremendous odds stacked against you.

The movie tells the story of a Polish Jew named Wladyslaw Szpilman who is a classical musician, and who does what he must to survive the events of World War II in the Warsaw Ghetto.

6. Schindler's List

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This second war drama depicts the courage to do the right thing.

It is based on true events that occurred during the Second World War. This is the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler, who was looking to profit from the war.

To save costs, Schindler arranged for Jews to work at his factory. At first, he did so to save on costs.

Nevertheless, he slowly came to realize that he was in a position to do the right thing. Through his actions, he was able to save over a thousand innocent lives.

7. Midway

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Another film set during wartime makes it to our list.

This 2019 film depicts events on the island of Midway, during one of the key battles in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Here, the American troops were victorious against the Japanese.

The movie shows the type of courage that is needed to defend freedom, despite mortal danger on the warfront.

8. Harriet

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Speaking of freedom, here’s a powerful movie that depicts the courage and determination of a woman to fight for freedom, not just for herself, but for her people as well.

Harriet Tubman was an enslaved woman before the American Civil War, but escaped to Philadelphia and won her freedom. She was a key member of the Underground Railroad that helped over 100,000 enslaved people escape to freedom.

9. Men of Honor

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In this movie, we witness a man’s courage to go after his dreams even though the organization he’s trying to get into is determined to exclude him.

This is the story of Carl Brashear, a young man who dreams of becoming a diver for the US Navy. He has to overcome not just physical hardships, but also discrimination from some members of the Navy.

10. Saving Private Ryan

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As a movie that depicts courage under fire, this film is considered a masterpiece.

It is the story of how eight soldiers receive orders to rescue a soldier missing in action behind enemy lines.

The members of the rescue party go through various harrowing situations in an attempt to accomplish their mission. The film defines courage not as the absence of fear, but rather doing what’s necessary in spite of the fear.

11. 12 Angry Men

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In what is supposed to be an open and shut case against an 18-year-old defendant accused of killing his own father, one member of the jury, Juror #8, dares to question if the evidence presented in the case is what it truly seems to be.

In his courage to stand alone for what he believes is right, Juror #8 opens the minds of the other members of the jury to consider if the verdict should be guilty or not guilty.

12. Aliens

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This movie shows how someone can manage to overcome her initial fear of the unknown and use her intelligence in order to survive.

The story is about Ellen Ripley, a warrant officer aboard a spaceship that is attacked by predatory aliens. Having initially survived her first encounter with these creatures, Ellen Ripley must face them again in an attempt to completely exterminate them.

13. The Shawshank Redemption

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This movie shows that an act of courage does not always have to be brash and bold, such as taking down the bad guys or going through enemy lines with guns blazing.

Imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, banker Andy Dufresne makes the best of his situation and helps other people in the prison better their lives. At the same time, he does not lose hope that, one day, he’ll experience freedom again, no matter how long it takes.

14. 127 Hours

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This film depicts one man’s courage and determination to survive an accident.

Based on a true story, this movie shows Aron Ralston’s fight to stay alive after a boulder pins him and leaves him stuck in an isolated canyon for five days.

This movie honors Ralston’s will to live and the courage he shows in making the decision that leads to his escape from the boulder.

15. Gandhi

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This empowering film shows us how the courage of a single person can create positive change for an entire nation.

The whole world now knows Gandhi as the leader of nonviolent protests to win back India’s freedom from British rule. This movie is a portrayal of his life, work, and legacy.

The British Film Institute declared Gandhi one of the greatest films of the 20th century.

16. Encanto

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Here’s another animated movie from Disney that shows how fear can lead to withholding love and acceptance.

In this movie, the trauma of one of the main characters causes several generations to view the magical gifts they possess as their only valuable attribute.

The story is about one young woman’s love for her family that leads her to find the solution to undo the pain and fear that has been passed on for several generations.

More importantly, it depicts the courage to be vulnerable in order to heal generational trauma.

17. Braveheart

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Finally, we have Braveheart. In this movie, we witness the courage and daring of a person who chooses to stand against tyrannical rulers despite being outnumbered.

If you need a dose of brash courage to break through procrastination, insecurity, or fear of starting a project, we highly recommend this movie as inspiration.

Final Thoughts on Movies About Courage

Courage is not only the ability to face danger without fear. As this collection shows us, different circumstances call for different types of courage.

If you were inspired by this collection of movies about courage, you now know that you don’t necessarily have to be on a battlefield to show your courage. Life is challenging enough that it requires us to be brave at every turn.

Another kind of courage is to decide to live a happy life. If you’re ready to do that, check out our collection of the 11 Best Movies About Happiness & Finding Life Satisfaction.

Finally, you might also want to check out more posts about courage and bravery:

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17 Best Movies About Courage and Bravery