With a upcoming election coming in 2015, Ian Schultz looks at 5 Politically Charged Films. They range in genre from dystopian science fiction to crime thrillers and even a big Hollywood epic. All the films are very different but each film has a powerful political message at it’s core.
Terry Gilliam’s Kafka meets Orwell dystopian classic seems more and more relevant as the years pass since it’s release. The surveillance culture we now live in, the beauracracy of every day life and even terrorism are touched upon with a biting satire slant. It’s no wonder when it came out Gilliam had to fight the head of Universal Pictures to get his cut of Brazil out and luckily the little man against the big corporation won this time.
2. They Live!
John Carpenter’s sci-fi films always had a political bent but it was nothing compared to the 1988 film They Live. It’s a about a man called Nada who one day stumbles across a box of sunglasses. When you put the glasses on you discover how the mass media is controlling your thoughts and the elite are space aliens who control everything. The film’s stature has grown over the years and the increasingly gap between the rich and poor it’s sometimes make you think they rich might be space aliens after all.
3. The Best Man
Gore Vidal one of the most acute political writers of his age wrote a play about the behind the scenes manoeuvres behind the scenes of a political election. It was turned into a film in 1964 and has seemed to be unfairly forgotten in the years since it’s release. It’s film that puts right in the middle of the behind the scenes of Washington D.C. which very few films do. 2015 is the year of a generation election in the UK and the start of 2015 sees a presidential campaign in the US for 2016. There is no better time to revisit one of the more biting satires on the process.
4. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Very few films perfectly sums up the ideas of Czech writer Franz Kafka as well as this Italian film from the early 1970. The film is about a high-ranking police officer killing his mistress and deliberately planting cues but nobody does anything about it because he is a citizen above suspicion. It’s about the abuse of power and is thinly disguised as a police thriller. When you know there was a police state in Italy installed at the time preventing the communist party gaining power it’s power deepens.
Warren Beatty’s passion project is a biopic of American journalist John Reed who chronicled the Russian revolution of October 1917. He wanted to bring communism to America but he failed. The film does overly romanticize the Bolsheviks; the film’s main narrative streak is the love story between Reed and Louis Bryant. Despite some flaws the film remains impressive and despite running over 3 hours it’s never dull. It’s also one of the last true cinematic epics before CGI took over.
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