Recently one our friends, Seventh Sister, mentioned the film "Inherit The Wind" in relation to the "intelligent design" debate. It got me thinking about other movies with political messages. I'm not talking about the obvious stuff like Michael Moore's films or the right wing film "Stolen Honor" accusing John Kerry of "betrayal." These movies were presented as documentaries but were pretty much straight propaganda and can be easily identified as such. I'm thinking of films like "Inherit The Wind" that have a political message through fiction. This posting will post some films I think of as being particularly political. This isn't intended as anything other than a starting point for discussion about politics in film. I hope our friends on Babblog won't be offended if I infringe on their turf a bit. I'll now make a list of films I think are at least prominent examples of political fiction in film and encourage you all to suggest films yourselves.
Inherit The Wind: This is a fictionalized account of the infamous Scopes "Monkey" Trial. I think it is an interesting portrayal of the culture war of the early 20th century. Democrats are shown to be split between modernists like the Darrow like Henry Drummand (Spencer Tracy) and religious populists like Matthew Harrison Brady, based on William Jennings Bryan (played by Frederic March). The arcerbic intellectual E.K. Hornbeck, based on H.L. Mencken (played by Gene Kelly), is a libertarian Republican from the big city who looks down on the traditionalist fervor of the local mob. I think this film is interesting in that it shows how much the political alliances have changed in the last 100 years. An added fun fact: Dick York of Bewitched fame plays the part of the high school biology teacher on trial for teaching that humans evolved from apes and Harry Morgan (Col. Potter from the TV show MASH) plays the judge.
The Green Berets: If you want to see what Republicans think about the war in Vietnam, see this movie. John Wayne plays his usual character in this over the top good guys versus commies action film. Added fun fact: the actors who played Lt. Sulu in Star Trek and Detective Nick Yemana in Barney Miller both play South Vietnamese army officers in the movie.
We Were Soldiers: This movie starring Mel Gibson is not quite as ridiculous as The Green Berets but there is a definite one sided "Americans are always good guys" vibe to this. It's like the right wing version of political correctness.
Pelle Eroberen: This Danish movie by director Bille August stars Max von Sydow as a Swedish farm laborer working on a Danish plantation in the late 19th century. This is interesting as a good presentation of the European left's view of their own history. The movie is based on a novel by a Danish communist who emigrated to East Germany in the 1940s.
The Deer Hunter: This is one of my favorite films. It depicts how a group of friends from small steel town in western Pennsylvania copes with Vietnam and its consequences. The cast alone should make you want to see this film (De Niro, Streep, Walken, Cazale)! I think this film is a good movie to see for the kind of "limousine liberals" who so often have trouble understanding working class nationalism. It's a good movie for working class nationalists to see because it depicts the raw deal men get when they buy into nationalism and sign up to go to war. Finally, the movie is set in the kind of European ethnic community that most people on the West Coast at least are completely ignorant of.
In The Heat Of The Night: Before it was 2nd rate TV series this was a 1st rate movie! Sidney Poitier plays a detective from Philadelphia who is first arrested for and then asked to investigate a murder in a small Mississippi town.
Judgment at Nuremburg: Another court room drama starring Spencer Tracy this time with Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell and Marlene Dietrich. This one is a great depiction of the dangers of nationalism and the slow erosion of liberty. It is particular damning in the end of apolitical people's excuses for their failure to oppose tyranny and injustice. Added fun fact: The cast includes the guy who played Col. Klink as a NAZI judge and William Shatner as a U.S. military court clerk.
I've intentionally left out a number of films I could have posted about because I know that some of the Citizens and our friends like them and I'll leave it to them to give their political reviews of them.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 9:23 AM