Wednesday, July 4, 2012

American Movie

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the birth of a nation, to reflect on what it means to be American. Movies are a big part of American culture, and certain movies encapsulate the American experience. Here are five great movies that strike me as particularly American.

5) Remember the Titans: Race relations have been a contentious part of the American story, and any number of films have attempted to deal with race. Titans certainly doesn't have the gravitas of other films tackling race relations in the US, but it reminds us that when we work together, anything is possible.

4) Rebel Without a Cause: This is the movie that made James Dean an American icon. Rebel perfectly captures the angst of the American teenager. Times may change, but older Americans always think the younger generation is going to hell in a handbasket.

3) Gran Torino: America is a country of immigrants, and Gran Torino is a movie about immigration. Walt Kowalski is a bitter old white man, watching his neighborhood change before his eyes. Walt is a metaphor for the US itself. He is a flawed man who evolves.

2) Rocky: Americans love an underdog, and Rocky Balboa may be the best underdog of all-time. Rocky Balboa is another cinematic metaphor. He gets knocked down, but always gets back up.

1) Saving Private Ryan: World War II may have been America's finest hour, coming to the defense of freedom and justice. Some would argue we haven't always fought for those principles, but freedom and justice are at the core of what America is all about. Saving Private Ryan is the best example of that spirit I've ever seen on the big screen.

These are five movies that scream America to me. What do you think of these choices? And what movies scream America to you?

8 comments:

  1. Wow, there are so many great movies that scream America for me. Glory with Denzel Washington, The Patriot even though it's Mel Gibson, American Graffiti, and Apollo 13. So many great movies to choose from.

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    1. Glory and American Graffiti were on my initial list before cutting down-both great movies. The Patriot was just ok for me, and Apollo 13 is one of those movies that's on the must-see-list-that-you-never-get-around-to.

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  2. I'm a big fan of Gran Torino - great choice. I always think of Born on the 4th of July for obvious reasons today. One of just a couple of movies in which Tom Cruise showed signs of being a really good actor before he lapsed into being Tom Cruise again.

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    1. Born on the Fourth is an excellent movie, and it just missed the list. It addresses the American tradition of dissent in a way most war movies don't. Probably Cruise's best work.

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  3. John Wayne just rolled over in his grave with no mention of him.

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  4. I know Wayne is an American icon and all, but I haven't seen any of his movies. More rolling in the grave, right?

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  5. Remember the Titans was such a feel-good movie. I wanted to cheer like I was at a real football game during the final scenes.

    I haven't seen Gran Torino but I need to. I think I'd also add Apollo 13 and Glory to the list.

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