Rather then give you another brilliant and insightful movie review (oh wait, those are all Tony’s) I figured I would take the opportunity presented to me by the 4th of July to discuss patriotic movies. Patriotic movies have emerged as their own genre over the years but what qualifies as patriotic has as many answers as there are movie watchers. After all, Oliver Stone would call Born on the 4th of July patriotic, but he is probably the only one.
So the question is, what is your favorite Patriotic movie? I have listed some possibilities here.
Now for the sake of argument we are going to have to include war movies into this category because, for the most part, they tend to be patriotic and herald the sacrifices our armed services made in defense of democracy and the American way of life. So I have listed a few here with my thoughts, just to get us thinking.
Saving Private Ryan – Probably the best war movie ever made. It vividly portrays America at one of its most dramatic moments in history. Storming the beaches of Normandy and liberating Europe from one of the greatest evils the world has ever faced. Very few moments reflect American values like D-Day, and no movie portrays it like Saving Private Ryan. It is the definitive moment in the European theatre and possibly the war as a whole except…
The Sands of Iwa Jima – Made in 1949 this John Wayne film was nominated for numerous academy awards, although it never won any. It follows Sgt. John Stryker, (John Wayne) a hardened veteran, as he trains his group of raw recruits and then leads them on the bloody marine assault of Iwa Jima against the Japanese. The viscous fighting on Mount Suribachi is legendary and the movie culminates in what is the most iconic image of the war, the Marine’s raising of the flag over Mount Suribachi. This image is the defining moment of the war effort, representing the tremendous sacrifices our country made and great victories that followed. To this day Iwa Jima has inspired films about it (Flags of Our Fathers for one) and is the famous sculpture that is the Marine memorial in Washington D.C. Interestingly enough the flag in the movie is the actual flag that was raised on Suribachi and for you John Wayne fans, this is one of the few movies his character actually dies in. (Can you name any others?)
The Patriot – We had to list this one, also called Braveheart 2. Mel Gibson portrays Benjamin Martin, a Continental Army officer based loosely on the famous Francis Marion the “Swamp Fox” and their unorthodox “Indian” tactics. Of course, the movie culminates at the Battle of Cowpens and the British defeat at Yorktown, thus establishing America as the great country it would become.
We Were Soldiers – I am not mentioning this Vietnam movie because it also stars Mel Gibson. I am mentioning this movie as a great patriotic movie because it takes what was essentially a battle that was a stalemate and somehow turns it into an American triumph at the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major U.S. engagement in Vietnam. Oh, not only that but it completely leaves out the other part of the battle that included a North Vietnamese ambush that wiped out another U.S. Cavalry brigade. To top it all, it takes an embarrassing war that we lost and that our leadership completely failed the American people, and somehow makes us look good. How patriotic is that?
Okay I know what your saying, there are tons of other movies that could qualify Citizen Kane, Patton, The Ten Commandments, you name it, and it’s true this topic is open to debate. However, in my humble opinion, there is one movie above all else that is hands down the most patriotic movie ever made. One movie that rises above the rest and distinguishes itself as one of the finest films ever made. That movie is….
Team America – The theme song to this film says it all. “America! F*%$ yeah!” The fight for freedom, the war against terror, the wanton destruction of parts of France, what else could define American heroism like a group of super soldier puppets? Throw in what else America does best, mock evil dictators like Kim Jong Il and spineless liberals and you have an instant hit that is sure to withstand the test of time. To be sure, if you are easily offended you should NEVER see this movie. If you aren’t easily offended you still should never see this movie. However, if your soul is so calloused that nothing ever offends you then have at it!
So this 4th of July, while you cook your barbeque and eat your watermelon, take a moment to remember those who came before and the sacrifices they made as well as those who are out making sacrifices now. All so we can enjoy the freedom we have to write silly movie blogs and go to Comic-Con and to say what we want and worship as we want and live as only those who are truly free can.