I just watched the original Red Dawn movie. John Milius' 1984 film features a group of Colorado high school students who go from the football field to fighting Cuban and Soviet (it was 1984, after all) invaders. Now Red Dawn has been remade for a new generation, slated for release on November 2, four days before the presidential election. The film's ultra-patriotic message may impact the 2012 elections, and not in President Obama's favor.
The new film starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is likely to be an all-out assault on weak-appearing politicians and a boost to American pride. It is too late for the president to get re-dos on all the bowing, double-talk, and chummy messages for Dmitri to take to Vladimir, and much too late to re-do the past four years of telling Americans they have no ambition, and emphasizing that times are hard because the rich don't pay enough taxes.
Some people love the original Red Dawn because it stars a young, heroic Patrick Swayze. It also features adorable 80s actresses Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey, and enduring American icon Charlie Sheen. It's unabashedly patriotic, corny, and has received extreme criticism for its simple message of "Americans are free and brave." This message is valid and no one should feel ashamed for holding these values. I teared up watching the boys bond together in their Rocky Mountain stronghold and hearing them cry "Wolverines!"
No longer are the villains Cuban or Russian. The new Red Dawn was originally conceived and filmed with Chinese attackers; reports state these were changed to North Koreans in order to capture the lucrative Chinese film market. Since few North Korean citizens are likely to buy tickets and many Chinese may do so, this strikes me as a smart move on MGM's part.
It really doesn't matter who the attackers are. The Red Dawn story emphasizes American integrity, independence, courage and grace under fire. Red Dawn's heroes are ordinary high school students who become extraordinary heroes, defending their hometown from invaders while their families suffer from the cowardice of appeasing, traitorous Vichy-style politicians. The original Red Dawn small town politician father and son had an excuse for every betrayal.
Red Dawn 1984 features the "Partisan Rock" upon which the names of the young fighters who died were inscribed. The plaque reads "...In the early days of World War III, guerrillas - 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."
It's an allegory and a fantasy. Which would Americans rather be: Wolverines or appeasers? Patrick Swayze came out ahead in 1984, and this fall, I'm betting on Chris Hemsworth.