Freedom. Independence. These may sound like mere words, but they mean so much more. Freedom is the fundamental right of every living being, be it human or animal. Imagine a place where you can’t even make a decision, without someone else’s permission. Imagine a place where you fear for your choice of practised religion. Imagine a place where segregation is based on caste, creed and colour.
Now imagine that’s your country. Are you getting afraid?
4th of July is the day of American independence. On this day, The Cinemawala recommends these films that showcase bravery of those who fought against all odds, to get their freedom, their independence. From the enemy outside. From the enemy within.
Dances With Wolves (1991)
It’s often said that history is always kind to the victorious. The American history paints rosy colours of the civil war but remains silent about the oppression of the natives. It’s a known fact that thousands of natives were butchered by the soldiers for their rights over the land. Kevin Costner starrer ‘Dances With Wolves’ is the movie which puts the American view of the natives on the forefront. An American soldier, unknowingly desolated at a post comes in contact with the Sioux natives. Hostile at first, soon they grow fond of each other and as they get to know each other well, they see a different perspective of the other men. A beautifully told story, it became one of the highest grosser of the year and received seven academy awards including best picture and best director, won by Mr Costner.
Slavery has been the single biggest oppression of mankind. To treat a fellow human as a slave is not only a crime, but is morally regressive and defeats the basic purpose of life – to live and let live. The America of the 19th century was still trying to come to terms with the anti-slavery sentiments across the country, when one fine morning, a ship anchored on the east coast shoreline, led by men of African descendent, who had overpowered the original masters of the ship. The matter over the ownership of the men came to the court. After much deliberation about law and its interpretation, in an unprecedented move, these men were allowed to let go free by the supreme court. ‘Amistad’ tells the horrific story of slavery through the eyes of Steven Spielberg and moves the audience with admirable performances.
Top Gun (1986)
I feel the need, the need for speed! When Maverick and Goose say these lines, you literally feel the butterflies in the stomach. Fighter aircraft, zooming across the skylines, with a speed that at times threaten to breach the barrier, ’Top Gun’ is a film about the speedsters in the sky. Starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer and Tom Skerrit, this film tells a story about the pilots training at the naval fighter weapons school known as TopGun. How Pete Mitchell, codenamed ‘Maverick’ becomes one of the top pilots, fighting his inner demons constitute the story. One of the biggest summer blockbusters, ‘Top Gun’ earned $356 Million against a production budget of $15 Million.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
The hunt for the world’s most dreaded terrorist, that went on for more than a decade. And it wasn’t easy because it came at a heavy cost, of lives and funds. We see the unnamed agent called Maya in the film, struggling with her self, as she devotes her life in search of Bin Laden. Laughed at, questioned, suspected, Maya beats every level to find out the man who was responsible for the attack of the World Trade Center in 2001. This movie raised many questions, the foremost being the waterboarding and other torture techniques that reminded of Abu Ghraib. Well crafted and brilliantly made by Kathryn Bigelow, this movie went on to win many accolades.
Born on the fourth of July (1989)
The war with Vietnam remains a moot point of discussion, the sole Achilles heel, in the history of the United States. So when a seemingly disillusioned crippled war veteran hobbles back home after the war, he finds a totally changed world. And with this changed world, his views also radically swing from bad to worse. A young Tom Cruise gave a performance of a lifetime that established him firmly as one of the leading actors of that time. Directed by Oliver Stone, ‘Born On The Fourth Of July’ is an American account of the Vietnam war, from a war veteran’s point of view, which shifts from being a patriot to be a cynic. Based on the eponymous novel written by Ron Kovic, a veteran himself, this is a gut-wrenching story of what war can cause to a man’s life.
AirForce One (1997)
The president of the United States Of America gets into a dangerous situation, when ‘Air Force One’, the flight that he and his family onboarded from Moscow, gets hijacked by a group of terrorists. How he re-claims his plane and defeats the terrorists, forms the crux of the story. Starring Harrison Ford as President James Marshall and Gary Oldman as the menacing terrorist leader Egor Korshunov, this is one of the most popular action films of the 90s. One of the action sequences had the plane dangerously veering on the airstrip, then deciding to fly away, was simply spectacular. Made on a budget of $85 million, it went on to earn $315 million on the box office worldwide.
The Help (2011)
Sometimes we do not need to cross borders or seas to experience how denial of civil rights impacts people. If we look around, at our own backyard, we might some of those lurking around. ‘The Help’ is the story of African-American women appointed as maids in the common households and their inhuman treatment by the white ladies. Witty, funny and thoughtful is how this movie is known. Very subtly, it describes the hardship the African-American working-class goes through. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are terrific in their parts along with Bryan Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone playing major roles in this movie.
Independence Day (1996)
On July 2nd, the whole world is attacked by aliens and several cities are destroyed by the laser beams shooting UFOs. By 4th of July, how the world gets back to its feet and fights off the aliens, with the US President Whitmore leading the pack, is the story of ‘Independence Day’. Starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, this is cheesy popcorn entertainment at its best. When it released, critics had a field day, criticising the over-simplistic plot and cardboard characters, it grossed an astounding $817 million on the box office, against a production budget of $75 million. Whatever the argument be, ‘Independence Day’ is a great watch with the family on a holiday.
National Treasure (2004)
This film set the imaginations of the people to go wild as they flocked to see the national museum to check the Declaration of Independence manuscript and find co-ordinates of the lost treasure. Such was the charm and excitement of the Nicholas Cage starrer film! ‘National Treasure’ tells the story of adventurer Benjamin Franklin Gates and his tryst to find the lost treasure of the Knights Templar. Opened to mixed reviews, it’s a perfect family entertainer that captured the viewers’ imagination as it grossed $347 Million worldwide. Part history, part fiction and a whole lot of fun, that’s what ‘National Treasure’ is all about.
Captain America – The First Avenger (2011)
On the independence day, what better than to see the beacon of freedom in action! ‘Captain America – The First Avenger’ sets the story of the ‘Infinity Saga’ in motion. The sickly, lean kid from Brooklyn who had jumped over the grenade to save others, becomes a remarkable hero, not for his superhuman strength but for his courage and never say never attitude. In this film, Captain America fights Nazis led by the Red Skull and saves the world, by sacrificing his life. He remains frozen in ice for 70 years before Shield locates him and thus begins the tale of ‘Avengers’.
What are your favourite 4th of July film? Do let us know, in the comments section.