Red Takeover? Supersize it!

I think John Milius is one of the most underrated directors ever. He has the most epic understanding of dramatics. In his movies the nature and sorroundings are a character speaking loudly from the backround. Some of his work is disturbing, but also genuinly challenging the audience. Milius is a contraversial character and to my knowledge openly admits that.

The movie Red Dawn is just all about that lust. If you have not seen the movie, you are now hereby warned that I am going to tell many things about the film. I think since it is some thirty years of the release of the film, it is quite all right to analyze it now a bit deeper.

The plot is not all that complex. It tells a tale of bunch of youths who live their own lives when suddenly their country and their lives are invaded by foreign military might. The enemy has superior strength and cunning. The desparate attempts to counter the onslaught are repelled easily. In the chaos and turmoil the kids suddenly end up in a situation where they are the only ones who have not been supressed into obidience, and they start their struggle of guerilla warfare against the overwhelming enemy.

In my opinion the Red Dawn is a film that everybody in the world should see. Especially it should be seen by the US Americans. Maybe in retrospect it cuould make them think about the concept of freedom they hold so dear. Even a person equipped with the minimal skill of emphathy, should from this movie have a glimpse of the reality so many people have had to face around the globe, when an invader has come a’ knocking. That invader has been (before this movie and after it) most often the Americans and their allies.

The Russians, Cubans and the Nicaraguans in this film have been portrayed not as faceless monsters, but as human individuals that also have their own lives and motives. One of their leaders even expresses his frustration for occupying the US, for as long as he was fighting the US world domination, in guerilla action he felt he had just cause, but now since he has become the invader, he no longer felt the justification to take the fight to the Americans. And that is what it is all about. The invaders in this movie could have easily have expressed their content at the prospect of taking the US down, as it obviously was harbouring weapons of mass destruction, and trained terror tactics to troops that wouldattack and sabotage such countries like Cuba and Nigaragua. But for some reason the movie makers made them not do that. Why not? Were these invaders actually portraying higher morals in comparrison to actual US foreign and military policies.

One could easily say that the invaders gathered free gun toti’n Americans to concentration camps and that the US has never done that where ever they have invaded. But that would be blatant a lie. Where the US has ever invaded, the right to bear arms has been the first one the locals have lost. What is Guantanamo prison, if not a concentration camp? What happened at Abu Ghraib? It is sanctimonious to claim that other empires have political prisoners, but that the US has only detained illegal fighters. It is sanctimonious to say other empires use torture, but the US only uses water interrogation and isolation. All of these are in violation to the Geneva convention.

In retrospect there is a very interresting reference in the story when a group of Russian soldiers visit a memorial of a place where the US army massacred native Americans. The Russians of the movie do not refer to it as justification to their invasion, but presents a glimpse into the mind of the director and his sense of history. One could claim it is a fascistic notion, that is revealed in this way, that later when the dust has setteled, the victors of the wars are the ones who controll what ever it was, that was fought over, and who was right or wrong does not matter after a few generations. But it is also a very powerfull way to play with the sense of justice of the audience. Is might really right?

The movie is also much about how the characters grow from blisfull ignorance of youth to adulthood under the most grim circumstances. They come to question the justification of their own actions, wich is the real measure of an adult after all. Some of them are consumed by the war, a few survive to tell the tale, but none is left unscarred. It is clear to them from early on, that after what happened there is no return back to what was before. The story is imaginary, but it is true to so many kids around the globe, where a nother nation has invaded, oppressed, or is extorting  their nations. The father (Harry Dean Stanton) yelling to his sons (Swayze and Sheen), to avenge him, after he has been detained by the invaders on the sole reason he owns a gun, could easily be seen as a Taliban father yelling to his sons who are just about to join the Al Qaida. Could they not? Just replace the baseball caps, with a pakul and there you have it. 

The young actors wich of many later rose to fame like Patric Swayze and Charlie Sheen get to show their talent and they are supported by a number of great older actors like Powers Boothe, Harry Dean Stanton, Ron O’Neal and William Smith.

One has to admire the worksmaship of Milius and his crew, for creating the apocalyptic feeling of an all American small town as war torn battlefield. Even the Russian tanks and helicopters allmost look like real thing. That shows how a movie, no matter how imaginary tale, can be convincing and compelling, if the details have been looked after. Of course there are a lot of typical military fumbles in this type of movie also. The heroes of the movie have to make the difference, so they have to win a number of fights against the odds and for a while the audience is let by the good feeling of just revenge. The built up Russian tanks do not wobble in their tracks when they fire their cannons, because in reality the cannon is just a fiberglass and alumnium tube and the shot is a mock up, but these are minor distracktions. They might eat up the reliability of the story, if the story would not succeed in the end to pass by the necessary flag wawing heroism to the harsh reality of war. Where the good guys are just as woulnerable as the evil henchmen, and where the superior numbers and training finally has meaning, though the high motivation of someone fighting for their own land makes up a lot of what lacks in helicopters and tanks.

The story rolls on like a tank and inevitably the young guerillas are being hunted down. As a final spite they resort to sucide attack. Oh, how that kind of gung-ho charge against the foreigners who think they can come to a nother country to boss around, is seen as such a glorious way to go. But not so by the invaders. To them it is just an act of crazed terror. That dead end of desperation is however the very source from wich terrorists sprout from.

I guess the chance of Russians, Cubans and Nicaraguans invading the US was never really very high. However, that was the athmosphere of the cold for, at least for the common Americans. I doubt if the Russians were ever too worried of American troops suddenly parashooting at the outskirts of some little town by the Urals mountains, but to the Cubans and the Nicaraguans it was, and still is, a real enough threat. Or in other words a “clear and present danger”. The US has sent mercenaries or “freedomfighters” trained and armed by the CIA to both of these countries and only with the patriotism of the soldiers and guerilla fighters of these nations have they managed to repell such attempts and preludes to full scale invasions. After the WWII the US has invaded a dozen countries, and despite the obvious lack of democracy in these countries what have the US and other western countries really brought to these occupied countries by invading? Peace? Stability? Democracy? Well not many of these invasions have been successes. Why? Could it be, that there still is a moral demand in the US that such attacks should be justified, and that in such attacks some form of legal and humane controll should be shown towards the natives? If that is so, why does not the worlds most prominent military might with the loudest demands for justice and democracy give any of its own soldiers or politicians (more notably) to stand trial on the international war tribunal on accusations of war crimes or crimes against humanity?

How does a small country, democratic or not, prevent the US from invading? Easiest way is not to have any raw materials, especially oil, or any kind of geopolitical significance. The second best is to let US corporations strip your country from its natural resources and offer submission by letting US troops to have military access. In other words to let them invade without a fight. The third one is a dark and difficult and requires for your country to have a nuke. After that even the one and only super power has to play ball it would seem…

Before I get too carried away, watch the movie, if you haven’t. And if you have, watch it anyway, and bear in mind that it is not important who is the invader and who is the guerilla. The invader is allways invading.