Inspirational stories of change explored on the big screen.
REVOLUTIONS throughout human history have been at times tragic, tumultuous and some, ultimately triumphant. As a generation which has personally witnessed few significant revolutions, we tend to romanticise the idea and use history texts as the main source of reference to fuel fantasies of uprisings against the status quo.
Thankfully, we also have films to turn to when we want inspirational stories of change and safe escapist sojourns down revolutionary roads without incurring the heavy personal losses and turbulence of real-life revolutions.
Of course there are films about real-life revolutions, too, like Che starring Benicio Del Toro, based on the life of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, and Gandhi starring Ben Kingsley based on India’s non-violent revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi.
These are really good alternatives to reading thick non-fiction books.
They also provide more drama and production quality as opposed to documentaries. However, because they are based on historical events, it is just not as fun to fantasise about them.
Films about revolutions are actually some of the best stories and best-made films around. Although in reality it is not always easy to honestly segregate and apply good and evil labels to insurgents and revolutionaries, in films this can be made more straight- forward. It’s easier to figure out who to root for and to decide which cause to support.
It’s interesting to consider fictional revolutions told in films and what it would be like to be a part of some of these:
Revolutionary struggle #1
Battle for the fate of mankind on MiddleEarth and the destruction of a creepy eye’s prized jewellery/accessory item.
Rebels: Hobbits, elves, assorted buff-men, an old wizard, a couple of ghosts and oh, some talking trees too for good measure.
Evil administration: Deformed orcs, old wizard with a weird combination of white hair and black eyebrows, masked ninja-like bad guys and foul prehistoric-looking creatures.
Would you join the cause?: Things look pretty bleak from the start. The good guys are outnumbered and aren’t united against the bad guys. There’s a creepy Gollum creature who seems to be the only one who knows the way to destroy the cursed item and these orc guys are pretty ferocious. All the coolest pointy-eared warriors and magic-wielding allies don’t want to fight preferring instead to leave Middle Earth.
Revolutionary struggle #2
Some cool looking hackers revolt against machines which have enslaved the entire human race and placed their consciousness in a digitally created dream world.
Rebels: Fashionable hackers and a cryptic Oracle whom everyone listens to but nobody understands.
Evil administration: Computer-created evil enforcement Agents and squid-like flying machines.
Would you join the cause?: A lot of hope seems to rest on one particular hacker but seeing how he fights and dodges bullets, he might just be the One. I’d join the cause just so I won’t be a human battery exploited by machines probably running on Microsoft.
Revolutionary struggle #3
Battle for control of the universe between two factions influenced by pseudo-religious zealots, one from the Dark side and the other from the Light side.
Rebels: Scoundrel pilots for hire, preachy pseudo-religious zealots, noisy droids, brighteyed humans and bushy tailed teddy bears alongside an assortment of cute alien creatures and a couple of pretty princesses.
Evil administration: Sadistic pseudo-religious zealots, not-so-cute alien creatures and guys in plastic battle armour who all sound the same.
Would you join the cause?: Why not? Who doesn’t like cute alien creatures, adventurous princesses and lightsabres? Only problem is these Jedi guys seem a bit too uptight all the time…
Revolutionary struggle #4
Underground movement against a totalitarian government set in London.
Rebels: Disfigured creepy guy in a cool Guy Fawkes mask and his spunky cute girl protégé.
Evil administration: Totalitarian govern- ment which lies to its people, imprisons innocent civilians and isn’t opposed to silencing dissent with murder.
Would you join the cause?: If I get a cool Guy Fawkes mask – why not? That should protect my identity and I really can’t stand the idea of governments using fear to cow its people. Governments should be afraid of the people and not the other way around.
Revolutionary struggle #5
Full-on war against the machines which seek to terminate human existence in the near future.
Rebels: Rag-tag group of human resistance led by John Connor, the chosen leader who sometimes still needs his mum to tell him what to do and bears the same initials as a real-life historical religious leader.
Evil administration: A network of self-aware machines that have built special killing machines resembling a certain real-life Governor of California.
Would you join the cause?: The future is bleak and these machines are really hard to kill. I’d like to opt out of this struggle but it doesn’t look like there would be much of a choice, seeing it’s either that or termination.
There are plenty more examples of films with plots centred on revolutions and rebellions such as Total Recall, the science fiction film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jame’s Cameron’s 3D visual feast, Avatar. They basically provoke us to ask ourselves what would it take for us to take a stand and make a difference in an oppressive world.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator3:RiseOfThe Machines.