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Red Dawn (1984)


Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat; this isn't a very good movie.  The story has plot holes the size of the Rockies--why are the Soviets attacking a high school in Colorado anyway?  The acting is pretty weak, especially the youngsters--including Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson,  Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey--though several great character actors turn in decent performances--including Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton,  Powers Boothe, and Superfly himself, Ron O'Neal.  Dialogue is risible; emotions are overdone; etc., etc., etc....  All that said, it contains a great truth at its core and is ultimately powerfully affecting in a way that far exceeds what we'd expect in a film of this quality, or, more accurately, lack of quality.

The truth of the movie is that, for all that certain political forces in America decry the prevalence of guns and the gun culture that pervades much of the country, for so long as the situation obtains there is fairly little chance of the nation ever being taken over by any hostile force whether foreign or domestic.  We're all familiar with pictures of German armies marching down the avenues of Paris.  Any such army trying the same thing in America would more than likely find itself pinned in a crossfire.  In fact, when Charles Whitman began sniping at people from a Texas tower, locals ran and got their guns and returned fire.  Nowhere else in the Western world would such a thing happen.

The part of the film that''s affecting is at the very end and it quite honestly took me by surprise.  After an attack on the Russian compound that appears to have turned the tide of the invasion, the story dissolves to a voice over describing the subsequent course of events and zooms in on a memorial to the kids who led the American resistance :

    PARTISAN ROCK

    IN THE EARLY DAYS OF WORLD WAR III
    GUERILLAS, MOSTLY CHILDREN,
    PLACED THE NAMES OF THEIR LOST
    UPON THIS ROCK

    THEY FOUGHT HERE ALONE
    AND GAVE UP THEIR LIVES
    "SO THAT THIS NATION
    SHALL NOT PERISH
    FROM THE EARTH"

Perhaps it's absurd, but I find that deeply moving.  And given the context of the film, which is very much a relic of the Age of Reagan and the revival, after the dismal post-Vietnam era, of American patriotism and military pride, you can imagine how it was received at the time the film was made--with enthusiasm by the right and horror by the Left.  In the end perhaps we can say the movie is at least a guilty pleasure and maybe even one of the better bad movies you're ever likely to enjoy despite yourself.  At any rate, you can get it on DVD for $10 at Borders, so you won't be too upset if you don't like it.

(Reviewed:31-Jul-02)

Grade: (C+)

Websites:

See also:

    -INFO : Red Dawn (1984) (Imdb.com)
    -FILMOGRAPHY : John Milius (Imdb.com)
    Red DawnĂ•s New Day: An interview with John Milius. (Johnny Dwyer , 12/28/03, NY Press)
    -John Milius (NRA Winning Team)
    -INTERVIEW : Don't Tread on Me: An Interview with John Milius (Erik Bauer, March/April 2000, CREATIVE SCREENWRITING)
    -INTERVIEW : 10 Questions with John Milius (Film Force)
    -INTERVIEW :  Behind-the-Scenes Interview with ...  John Milius (Steranko, Prevue Magazine)
    -FILM SCORE : Red Dawn by Basil Poledouris
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (The Nation)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Brett Willis, Christian Spotlight on the Movies)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Charter Terminal)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Roger Ward, Fourth Region)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Doug Pratt DVD Reviews)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Peter Reiher)
    -REVIEW : of Red Dawn (Orry)
 

RECOMMENDED FILMS of :
<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Name?Milius,+John>John Frederick Milius</a>
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0118453>Rough Riders</a> (1997) (TV)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0097334>Farewell to the King</a> (1989)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0087985>Red Dawn</a> (1984)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0073906>The Wind and the Lion</a> (1975)

as Writer :
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0078788>Apocalypse Now</a> (1979)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0068853>The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean</a> (1972)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0073195>Jaws</a> (1975) (Indianapolis monlogue) (uncredited)

<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Name?Boothe,+Powers>Powers Boothe</a>
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0089087>Emerald Forest, The</a> (1985)
    *<a href=>Red Dawn</a> (1984)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0083111>Southern Comfort</a> (1981)
    *<a href=http://us.imdb.com/Title?0080832>Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones</a> (1980) (TV)

Comments:

Bingo! There's nothing more American than putting the unAmerican in camps, which won't be conservatives/gun owners.

- oj

- Jan-12-2008, 14:25

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American gun owners wouldn't let their country be taken over? Hell, the neo-cons have effectively overturned the Constitution, are building internment camps to hold millions. And your gun owners? They're a bunch of whiny little bitches primly reminding everyone how we need Bush 43 et. al. to "protect" us from Bin Laden. Maybe Americans were once brave. They are now a gang of candy-assed bullies and cowards.

- Ernest DeSchoening

- Jan-11-2008, 23:56

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