A look at cinema’s best father-son movies

The strength of a relationship between father and son is something that few things can compare to. Indeed, this dynamic has been heavily explored throughout the history of cinema. In countless on-screen narratives, the relationship between a father and his son has been explored, tested and broken down in hundreds of different ways.

Some of the most famous examples pit father and son against each other, only for them to reconnect later on through a shared experience. Others will show incredibly strong relationships which, through storytelling, are challenged and sometimes destroyed entirely, forcing characters to grow and move on.

Some of the most famous Father and Son Quotes focus on the unique way in which a son perceives his father as a mentor and role model. Others similarly explore the father’s perspective, in which a son is often seen as a continuation of his legacy.

Let’s explore some of the most emotionally moving father-son relationships that have graced the silver screen.

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker

No list of cinema father-son relationships is complete without mentioning the quintessential story of the epic space opera that is Star Wars. The central plot of the original trilogy centres on Luke Skywalker’s self-discovery as a Jedi whilst battling with the revelation that his ultimate nemesis and public enemy #1, Darth Vader, is actually his father.

This creates an obvious emotional conflict as Luke is forced to confront and potentially kill his own father who has fallen to the dark side of the force. On the other hand, Darth Vader is confronted with the prospect of either killing his own son or forcing him down the same ignoble path he took and becoming a villain.

At one point, Darth Vader even tempts Luke with an offer to overthrow the current political system and “rule the galaxy as father and son”. This line is particularly profound as it implies Vader believes they will become closer through their joint subjugation of the galaxy.

Ultimately, Luke refuses, choosing to stick to his beliefs rather than betray them for the sake of a relationship with his despotic father. In the end, Vader redeems himself by saving Luke’s life at the cost of his own in the final act of the saga.

Indiana Jones and Sir Henry Jones

A look at cinema’s best father-son movies
Photo: dolgachov, Bigstock

Another famous cinema father-son relationship comes from the Indiana Jones action-adventure series. In the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we encounter Indy’s father, Sir Henry Jones, and are immediately introduced to a tense relationship filled with resentment.

As we discover throughout the film, Jones’ father is a typically neglectful parent at face value, opting to focus on his work and search for the Holy Grail rather than his own son. In many ways, Henry Jones is guilty of treating his son more like a student than a relative and this causes Indy to grow resentful of his father over the years.

Clearly, Henry Jones could benefit from reading about some essential parenting rules.

By the end of the film we discover that their love for each other actually runs deep despite their surface level bickering. We learn that the only reason they come into conflict so often is because they’re so similar, and there’s really only room for one personality like that.

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo is an animated family movie that has a really strong and endearing message about the relationship between father and son. In the film, Marlin (a clown fish) is a widower from a predator attack and is raising his only surviving son, Nemo.

Because of the traumatic experience in which he lost his partner and most of his unborn offspring, Marlin is insanely paranoid of the outside world and has raised Nemo in a heavily sheltered environment. He is terrified that something bad will happen to his son if he is left alone.

One day, Nemo is captured by human divers and Marlin sets out on a long journey to find and rescue his son. Through searching for his son, Marlin overcomes all of the dangers he believed made the ocean impossible to survive and makes a lot of friends along the way.

After reuniting with Nemo, Marlin realises that attempting to shelter his son from the dangers of the world can only go so far and eventually he will need to be trusted on his own. Marlin also learns to give up some of his prejudices as his learns more about the world around him and his son’s experiences.

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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