Five Solid Movies That Focus on Schizophrenia

Here is the official definition:  Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of the process of thinking and of emotional responsiveness.  It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.

So obviously it can come in many forms.  I know most people always think of it as having false visions.  But that isn’t always the case.   Speaking of which, schizophrenia is a great topic for movies.

And if you’re interested, here are five movies that cover the issue quite well…..

The Fisher King

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.  The film stars Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams.  Williams gives an epic performance as the deranged homeless man.   His character is forever haunted by the death of his wife and has irrational images popping up in his life all the time.   Plus Terry Gilliam directed it.

A Beautiful Mind

At Princeton University, John Nash struggles to make a worthwhile contribution to serve as his legacy to the world of mathematics. He finally makes a revolutionary breakthrough that will eventually earn him the Nobel Prize. After graduate school he turns to teaching, becoming romantically involved with his student Alicia. Meanwhile the government asks his help with breaking Soviet codes, which soon gets him involved in a terrifying conspiracy plot. Nash grows more and more paranoid until a discovery that turns his entire world upside down.  That discovery is that he’s delusional and the “government” are really made up characters in his head.  Nash must decide whether or not to believe these characters.

Donnie Darko

October 2nd, 1988: Just another ordinary day in Donnie Darko’s teen-aged existence. He’s taken his medication, watched Dukakis and Bush debate, and had dinner with the family. Then comes an outrageous accident. Out of the blue, a 2,000 pound jet engine plummets from the sky and crashes into Donnie’s bedroom, obliterating it. Luckily, Donnie isn’t in bed. Or is it luck?  Darko soon discovers that he has the ability to alter the universe with his new found appreciation for life.

Conspiracy Theory

A man obsessed with conspiracy theories becomes a target after one of his theories turns out to be true. Unfortunately, in order to save himself, he has to figure out which theory it is.  Yes I know it’s Mel Gibson but it’s still a very solid movie.   I think Gibson’s character has more of an OCD type of condition but many critics say it was Schizophrenia so I’ll count it.


Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.  Breakdown is put very slightly.   Helfgott suffered (s) from severe emotional problems that many would consider to be schizophrenic issues.  And judging by the movie I’d say that diagnosis is correct.

Other notables include:  The Madness of King George, Benny and Joon, Clean Shaven, Igby Goes Down,  Shutter Island

For a full list check out Listal’s Article

Similar Posts


  1. Donnie Darko didn’t have schizophrenia. Frank was real, time travel was real. At the end Donnie ended up back in his bed when the plane engine hit. The only problem is no human remains we’re found, so I’m guessing the future was changed? Watch the Director’s Cut, it really helps explain what happened.

  2. Schizophrenia is sexist!!! (no, really, it is).

    I loved A Beautiful Mind. In fact, I’m probably biased, but I love pretty much any movie that involves psychological disorders.

  3. @Bing There are lots of different ways to perceive Donnie Darko. I think of it as he had 28 days to change his future from being smashed by that engine, or 28 more days to live until he went back and it was going to happen anyway. But, I think it was all in his head. @Nattyb -appreciation for life? When does Donnie show an inkling of appreciation for life?

  4. Shutter Island, good movie, good book. Normally I’ll see the movie first so I can actually enjoy it in case it doesn’t measure up, but it was done right.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.