8 incredible films that can only be watched once

  • 8 incredible films that can only be watched once

Christopher Nolan's latest masterpiece Dunkirk is being regarded by many as an instant classic, but due to its incredible look, sound and relentlessness is near-impossible to go back for a repeat viewing.

There are many brilliant films out there that are so relentless in their intensity, violence or emotional power that they can't be rewatched. Films like...

1. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Casey Affleck won the Best Actor Oscar at the 2017 Awards for his portrayal as Lee Chandler, a man who returns to his hometown to look after his nephew after the death of his brother.

Throughout the entire film, Affleck's character suffers from the inescapable profound grief - possibly the most accurate onscreen portrayal ever - that takes months and years to recover from.

Relentless in its misery, Manchester by the Sea is a wonderfully-told story, but one that is so bleak and brutal that it is impossible to want to sit through a second emotional viewing.

2. Irreversible (2002)

Argentinian director Gaspar Noé's brutal 'art psychological horror drama' starred Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel and featured the film's thirteen scenes playing out in reverse chronological order.

While (much like Momento) it would seem like the perfect film to rewatch, as you don't see how we arrived at that moment until the following scene, there are some graphically violent scenes, including a 10-minute long uninterrupted rape scene.

Another scene also features a man being brutally murdered with a fire extinguisher - with all of these unflinching and extremely explicit scenes making a repeat viewing an extremely unappealing prospect.

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3. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, who adapted Hubert Selby, Jr's novel about four people and their different forms of drug addiction as their lives fall apart as their desperation overtakes their reality.

Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans play a pair of drug-addicts and aspiring dealers, Jennifer Connelly plays Leto's amphetamine-addicted girlfriend who is forced into prostitution to pay for her habit, and Ellen Burstyn plays Leto's mother who becomes addicted to weight-loss amphetamines after believing that she has won a spot on a TV game show.

Relentless, grim and intense, watching the main characters' lives fall apart due to their drug habits is heartbreaking and, with the film stylistically edited in montages of extremely short shots, the film is agonising and dizzying in equal measure.

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4. Schindler's List (1993)

The Steven Spielberg-directed historical drama about the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people from the Holocaust won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

A masterpiece of filmmaking, the casting, performances, script and score are flawless, with incredible performances from Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes as concentration camp commandant Amon Göth.

With an unflinching look at the horror of the Holocaust, including a terrifying scene in the shower of Auschwitz, while it is one of the greatest films of all time, it's not one that even Spielberg's most dedicated fans would hurry to watch again.

5. The Road (2009)

In the big screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee play a father and son trying to survive in a snow-covered, desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Headed to the coast in hopes that it will be warmer, the unnamed father and son have to evade armed cannibal gangs, while the father carries a gun with one bullet to shoot his son in case they get too desperate, and they must scavenge for supplies in the relentlessly bleak story.

While it is a captivating film, the unyielding and crushing misery that fills the film's entire runtime means that a second viewing isn't an appetising prospect.

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6. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Based on the best-selling Holocaust novel by Irish writer John Boyne, Asa Butterfield plays an 8-year-old boy named Bruno, whose father is promoted to work as Nazi commandant of an extermination camp, with the boy not understanding the situation, and thinking that the prisoners are farm workers.

Bruno makes friends with a Jewish boy in the camp named Shmuel, and the pair witness the atrocities happening in the camp, but when Shmuel's father disappears, they set off to find him which leads to a heartbreaking climax.

With a dizzying gut punch of a finale that leaves viewers emotionally devastated, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a haunting film that is never on any film fan's rewatch list.

7. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

The Oscar-winning drama, based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free born African-American who is kidnapped in Weshington D.C. and sold into slavery in Louisiana where he worked for 12 years before being released.

It boasts stunning performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, Lupita Nyong'o and a spellbinding performance from Michael Fassbender as the savage and merciless plantation owner Edwin Epps.

The unflinchingly brutal look at the American slave trade is an essential piece of cinema, but it is one that due to its violent and unforgiving nature, is one that most people only view the one time.

8. United 93 (2006)

While the historical films on this list focus on things such as slavery or the Holocaust - that occurred before most cinemagoers were born, the Paul Greengrass directed United 93 focuses on an atrocity from much more recent memory - the 9/11 attacks.

The film shows - in real time - the hijacking of the San Francisco-bound flight by four al-Qaeda terrorists, who are then fought back by a group of courageous passengers, forcing the plane to crash into a Pennsylvania field, rather than their intended target of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

With the wounds of the attack five years earlier still raw to many people, it is heartbreaking and a masterful tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack that most people had to watch the first time through floods of tears, and not wanting to revisit.

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