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Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

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Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

Old 07-01-19, 10:50 AM
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Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

Iím pretty sure that anyone familiar with Zhang Yimouís Hero will have come across discussions about its brilliant use of color, the mesmerizing score, the poetic fight choreography, etc. What doesnít seem to get much attention is its political bent, specifically, its pro-authoritarian thesis:

The movie presents the Qin Emperor as a visionary who united disparate kingdoms into one nation: China.
Spoiler:
It could actually be argued that the Emperor is the hero of the piece, not Nameless (Jet Li) who submits himself for execution after realizing the Emperor was in the right for unifying the nation.

This may not sound terribly controversial until you take into account that the Qin Emperor is the Chinese equivalent of Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, or any other dictator you can name associated with atrocities on an unimaginable scale. The Emperorís brutality is something that Hero glosses over, so people not familiar with Chinese history just see a wizened ruler establishing a nation, which is a great thing if such an act didnít involve torture and genocide.

Itís easy to see why a film with such a message would have no problem with Chinese censors: the dictator is in the right, so thoughts of dissension need to be put down so those in power can continue running the state as it should be.

Put this way, some might consider a film with such a message to be propaganda, but most fans of Hero donít look at it that way because of the technical skill involved in the making of this film. Thereís no shortage of fawning over the craftsmanship in the film so it gets a pass on its pro-totalitarian message and attempts to bring attention to its political intentions are often dismissed. What we wind up with is one of the most skillfully produced pieces of propaganda that is not acknowledged as such in many circles.

Hero is the example that springs to mind when I think of feature films with a political message that arenít acknowledged as being political. I would be really surprised if it were alone, though. Can anybody else suggest political films where their politics have flown under the radar?

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 07-01-19 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 07-03-19, 09:37 AM
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Re: Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

While ostensibly a western/adventure film, The Treasure of Sierra Madre is based on a very lefty novel written by a guy named 'B. Traven' (almost certainly an alias) who was by most accounts an anarchist. While it probably goes unnoticed by most people, anyone familiar with Marxist economic theory will recognize Walter Huston's explanation to Tim Holt as to why gold is so expensive as a near-perfect example of the Labor Theory of Value.
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Old 07-03-19, 10:22 AM
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Re: Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
While ostensibly a western/adventure film, The Treasure of Sierra Madre is based on a very lefty novel written by a guy named 'B. Traven' (almost certainly an alias) who was by most accounts an anarchist. While it probably goes unnoticed by most people, anyone familiar with Marxist economic theory will recognize Walter Huston's explanation to Tim Holt as to why gold is so expensive as a near-perfect example of the Labor Theory of Value.
I just watched it a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. Since it was my first viewing - the subtext was lost on me.

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Old 07-14-19, 04:17 AM
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Re: Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

The Green Mile is an anti capital punishment tract. We're shown an execution and it's horrifying, and although it's blamed on a sadistic guard, we remember the image of the man with his hair smoking. We're shown an innocent man, someone who's like an angel, who's executed anyway. Finally, we're shown that the one 'good' guard gets divine punishment for taking part in the system.

More generally, there are thousands of movies which quietly support the British class system. Last night we watched The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb on Svengoolie. The heroes and villains are all upper class, and the lower classes are represented by comic relief actors playing lazy, ignorant workmen or by Arab assassins.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:36 AM
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Re: Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

Depending on your perspective, this could apply to anything sympathetic toward minorities. For instance, positive or normalized depictions of LGBT characters in film seem to bode well with general audiences, although there are people who might accuse such films of having a political or social agenda. The Birdcage comes to mind.
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Old 08-18-19, 12:30 PM
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Re: Movies with an agenda that people donít view as political

Always thought The Apartment had some cutting edge insinuations for it's time.
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