Inspired by Jim's description of one of his 10 formative movies, I realized that one of the movies that's had the most impact on me is Quest for Fire. The 1981 Canadian anthropological movie about 4 separate tribes of homo erectus, neanderthal and homo sapiens, and their interactions.
I remember being absolutely fascinated by the movie, watching it dozens of times (it was one of the early movies offered on our fancy new SuperChannel Cable Movie Channel when I was a kid). I haven't thought explicitly about the movie in years, but have realized that it's really affected me by helping to viscerally see and empathize with the various cultures depicted.
Quest for Fire was so powerful to me, because it was so real. It didn't feel like fiction. It felt like what we would now call embedded reportage. Following the story, without shaping it. (of course the story was shaped - it's a work of fiction - but it doesn't FEEL like a work of fiction) It made anthropology, evolution, natural selection, adaptation, and so many other concepts clear and alive.
It showed how science isn't a separate thing - it is the world around us. It is us.
I just bought the movie, and have been waiting for it to finish downloading from iTunes so I can rewatch it. Looking forward to it!