Let the Ghosts Lull You to Sleep: Finding Calm in Old Movies

Do you ever have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing or you feel too wired from the day? Some nights when sleep evades me, I’ve found comfort and calm in an unusual source – leaving an old movie playing softly in the background.  It started with 39 Steps, an old Hitchcock movie.

There’s something about the cinematic style and pacing of classic films that creates the perfect lullaby. The muted or lack of musical scores, the gentle crackling of the audio, the poetic and slightly distant dialogue all mix together into an unintentional sleep remedy. As the ghosts of Hollywood’s Golden Age murmur in the background, your eyes will grow heavier until suddenly you’re drifting into dreams.

It may sound strange at first, but don’t knock it, Turn off the harsh glow of your devices and let the flickering black-and-white images work their magic. You may be pleasantly surprised by how a film made decades ago can quiet your 21st century thoughts.

Here are some soothing old movie options to start your journey.  All but Wings of Desire are on YouTube at the time I wrote this:

  1. “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (1927) – This lyrical silent film by F.W. Murnau has a gentle, calming mood.
  2. “Wings of Desire” (1987) – Wim Wender’s contemplative German film features observant angels and poetic narration.
  3. “Diary of a Country Priest” (1951) – Robert Bresson’s introspective character study unfurls at an unhurried, meditative pace.
  4. “The Bicycle Thieves” (1948) – Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist classic follows a father and son on an emotional journey through Rome.
  5. “City Lights” (1931) – Charlie Chaplin’s charming silent film blends comedy and poignancy.
  6. “Ivan the Terrible, Part I” (1944) – Sergei Eisenstein’s historical epic has a hypnotic, dream-like style.
  7. “La Belle et la Bête” (1946) – Jean Cocteau’s take on the fairy tale unfolds with surreal, magical imagery.

So next time you’re having trouble drifting off, put on your cinematic nightlight and let the ghosts of Hollywood past gently take your hand and guide you to sleep.

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