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The Best Movies For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes – What Are Your Suggestions?


'opening frames of the simpsons movie' photo (c) 2007, hillary h - license:

Generally, the only times students in my classes watch full movies are the few times I’m absent (though we’ll often watch short clips), and when I’m not there it usually relates to a school-related meeting.

All of the English teachers at our school spend four days each year — two near the beginning and two near the end — to review writing assessments all students in our school do twice a year (you can read all about that process at a previous post). Two of those days are coming-up and, since substitute teachers aren’t allowed to supervise computer use, I’m going to have my IB Theory of Knowledge class students watch a movie.

They’ll be watching “Inception” (you can download the hand-out they need to complete while watching it).

It also got me wondering about other movies that might be useful for TOK classes, too.

I have my students watch The Matrix as part of a lesson on Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, and you can see that lesson here.

I did a quick online search, and found three sites that offered other good suggestions:

Theory of Knowledge Filmography

The Student Room

IB Survival

Video: Wow, It Looks Like Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ Movie Will Be Perfect For IB TOK Classes!

Video Trailer: “The Stanford Prison Experiment”

What are your suggestions?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I like ‘Memento’ the whole notion of unravelling a story backwards is great angle for looking at logical deduction and what happens if any of the ‘truths’ along the way are called in to question.

    Also like ‘The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind’ on the role memory plays in our lives.

    Both great movies with lots to think and talk about in a ToK class. Maybe we could crowd source a list…….

    Thanks for the links

  2. My wife teaches TOK and was asking just this. She has used “The Truman Show”, but it has disappeared from Netflix. I suggested “The Stuntman” (1980), where Peter O’Toole plays a movie director with delusions of godhood. A hapless young guy on the run stumbles onto his set and gets recruited as a stuntman. He’s never quite sure whether O’Toole wants to kill him or not, or whether the leading lady cares for him or not, or sure of anything else for that matter. Nor is he quite what he seems either! A lot of fun, and an overlooked classic.

  3. In a Better World
    Local Hero
    My Name is Khan
    The Story of Weeping Camel
    Cloud Atlas
    Like Father Like Son
    Why we Fight
    The Live of Others
    Fog of War
    The Constant Gardener
    Dirty Pretty Things
    White Balloon
    Turtles Can Fly
    Color of Paradise
    The First Grader
    The Shock Doctrine
    7 UP doc series
    Terror’s Advocate
    The Girl in the Cafe
    Born into Brothels
    Jame’s Journey to Jerusalem
    Caterina in the City
    Wondrous Oblivion
    The Return
    Motorcycle Diaries

  4. Also,
    Another Earth
    I, Origins
    Benjamin Button
    Tree of Life

  5. Right before Winter Break this year I showed “Elf” to my students. The vast majority of the comedy in the film focuses on Buddy the elf trying to make sense of this foreign metropolitan world he finds himself in. I give my students a handout with the 8 ways of knowing and ask them to identify knowledge claims and categorize them under the primary Way of Knowing that allows the particular claim to be made. A follow up could be to have them concoct knowledge questions from the various claims.

  6. I always show “Pi: the Movie” in the math unit (not “life of pi”) to good effect. Its very short but look up anime “Cat Soup”. A Beautiful Mind, Donnie Darko, and documentary on Andy Goldsworthy in aesthetics unit, “Rivers and Tides” have also been used to good effect (I hope).

  7. Are there any movies specifically about Sense Perception?

    I know the Matrix would be good, but I am thinking of other movies students may not have seen.


  8. I always show my students the old version of “Twelve Angry Men”
    I have a various times shown….

    What the “Bleep” Do We Know
    7 Pounds
    lots of TED Videos esp. The Lucifer Effect
    THe Egg
    The Matrix

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