What if a Martian shows up on your doorstep and tells you that he is on a special mission to learn more about Americans. Since we are currently exploring his planet, he has been sent here on earth to learn more about us. How will you describe the American character to him? What “Top 10 Movies” will you select?
The following is a partial list of movies from my book, Spun: 101 Movies to Recreate Your Reality, that I believe provides a good snapshot of the American character. Let me know if you agree or not. You are free to add your own choices in the Comments below.
The Patriot: Freedom from tyranny is a foundational feature of the American character. The rallying cry during the American Revolution was: “Give me liberty or give me death!” By standing up for their principles and beliefs, these revolutionaries helped to create the most powerful nation on earth.
Gone With The Wind: As the Old South with its peculiar way of life burns to the ground around her, the heroine fervently believes in her ability to reshape the world in her own image. She displays a high degree of optimism that tomorrow will be a better day. It also shows how Americans are willing to fight each other, even on a battlefield, for the preservation of their beliefs and values.
Citizen Kane: It is an era when an oligarchy of wealthy and powerful men ran the world. America provides the perfect stage for these larger than life personalities to live out their fantasies in a civilized world. It shows that despite all the wealth and power in the world, happiness can still remain elusive.
There Will Be Blood: It depicts an American ethos of hard work and rugged individualism in a country that provides many opportunities for self-actualization, while one is pursuing the American Dream. It also marks the beginning of America’s love affair with Big Oil and the energy industry.
The Grapes of Wrath: As families journey to California seeking a better life during the Great Depression, they find themselves being exploited as a source of cheap labor. The workers decide to fight back by forming a union and demanding higher wages. It is also an era when Americans were losing their homes due to foreclosure and had to find the will and wherewithal to start over.
Mississippi Burning: When three civil rights workers are murdered during the Civil Rights Movement, the norm was for the local authorities in the South to look the other way. It highlights a time when the nation was coming to grips with the specter of racial injustice and taking a hard line against discrimination.
The Godfather: America has a long history of battling corruption and organized crime. It reveals how certain members of society will always try to circumvent the system to get rich quick. It shines a spotlight on the inequitable distribution of wealth in society that may lead some people to consider criminal activity as an option.
Any Given Sunday: Watching sports is America’s favorite pastime and represent the competitive spirit of Americans. Football is a sport that pits the best athletes against each other, just like the gladiators of yore.
Wall Street: It is a coming of age film about a young man trying to find his moral compass in the face of great temptation. Wall Street is the domain of risk-takers, who believe that “greed is good.” It shows how the financial wizardry of Wall Street often jeopardizes the livelihood of American workers and the nation at large.
Erin Brokovich: A single mother helps a small town file suit against a power company for polluting its water supply. She believes in the essential fairness of the justice system and proves a formidable opponent. It also demonstrates how Americans will act courageously in the face of injustice.
(To Read CHAPTER 1 of My Book “Spun: 101 Movies to Recreate Your Reality” Click Link).
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