If you believe in freedom and free markets, you won’t find many friends in Hollywood. Even films you expect to be non-political often turn up gratuitous dialogue that peddles the infantile, anti-free enterprise sentiments of “progressive” idiots and hypocrites.
It’s a back-handed tribute to capitalism that superficial critics can make a lot of money vilifying the very marketplace that enables them to get rich. At the same time, it’s an indictment of socialism that making an anti-socialist film in a socialist country could get you censored, jailed, or “disappeared.”
On the silver screen, business people are frequently portrayed as greedy and heartless, while statists of every stripe are depicted as selfless, romantic idealists who only want to help people. If it’s “private” or profit-motivated, it’s routinely denigrated. One plot so shopworn it’s almost a comedic parody of itself is evil businessmen destroying the environment as crusading politicians fight to clean it up.
When can we expect a movie about how Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller saved the whales by transforming the business of lighting from whale oil to kerosene? Don’t count on it.
Meantime, you can watch a stupid 2004 film called “Motorcycle Diaries” that glorifies the young Che Guevara without ever hinting to viewers that Che became a cold-blooded socialist killer.
Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, however, every now and then the film industry produces a memorable moment of dialogue—and occasionally, even an entire movie—that breaks the mold. Here are just seven I strongly recommend:
The Alpinist (2021): This stunningly scenic documentary about Canadian mountain climber Marc-Andre Leclerc offers no ideological agenda but I doubt that socialists will like it for two reasons: 1) It pays homage not to a collectivist blob but to the spirit of personal independence and individual initiative and 2) It’s a tribute to homeschooling over the dull homogenization of government education. Here’s the trailer.
Mr. Jones (2020): Hollywood would never issue a movie like this one, so it had to be made by a Polish producer whose memory of communism prevents her from covering up for it. It’s the true story of a courageous young Brit, Gareth Jones, who defied Stalin and his friends at The New York Times and informed the world of the man-made Ukrainian famine that killed five million people. You can read about Jones here, and watch the movie’s trailer here.
The Lives of Others (2006): If you need a reminder of what it was like to live under the microscope of a socialist spy-state, this is it. Socialists love to spy, by the way, and even more, they love to report you when you misbehave. Socialists expect you to follow orders because they think the State is more important, caring, and intelligent than mere mortals. This film tells a story of man relentlessly dogged by the East German secret police. Why? Because he apparently thinks for himself, which is a crime of subversion where socialists wield power. Watch this movie and you may realize that government should be small enough that you must go looking for it, instead of it always looking for you.
V for Vendetta (2006): In a dystopian socialist Britain, one man fights back. And because he does, so does another. And then another. And the liberation from tyranny that once seemed impossible finally happens. This line from the film should be indelibly etched into every government building the world over: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Here’s the trailer:
Antz (1998): The setting for this DreamWorks animated film is an ant colony. All ants are expected to behave as an obedient blob. This is very convenient for the tyrant ants in charge. The debilitating collectivist mindset is shaken by a single ant who marches to a different drummer and ultimately saves the colony through his individual initiative.
Barbatus, voiced by actor Danny Glover, is one of the ants who lives his entire life as an indistinguishable cog in the colony’s centrally-planned machine. In his last words to Z, the hero of the story voiced by Woody Allen, he says, “Don’t make my mistake, kid. Don’t follow orders your whole life. Think for yourself.”
Reflecting on that poignant moment later, Z sadly confides to another ant, “He just died in my arms like that. You know, I don’t think he ever once, in his life, made his own choice.”
Never to make a choice of your own is, to me, what Hell must be like.
Ghostbusters (1984): Two things we must always fear about government are 1) mission creep and 2) Creeps on a mission. In this hilarious classic, the villain is an arrogant control creep from the Environmental Protection Agency and the heroes are from the private sector.
Four parapsychology professors are finally tossed out of their cushy jobs at a state university. Lamenting their predicament, one of them suggests going into business for themselves. Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) expresses his reservations this way: “Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities. We didn’t have to produce anything. You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!” Here’s a compilation of clips from the movie:
Amazing Grace (2007): Have you ever seen a movie so good, so inspirational, that tearful audiences rise to applaud as the closing credits roll? That was the reaction I witnessed the first of some 25 times I’ve watched this one.
This is the wonderful story of two giants among history’s liberty-loving humanitarians, William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson. Together, they changed first the conscience of a nation (Britain) and then they changed its laws. The issue was human slavery, a fact of life for centuries in virtually every corner of the globe. Motivated by their deeply Christian beliefs to end the sin of bondage, these two men had to fight both ignorance and their own government before millions could be liberated. You can read about Wilberforce here, and about Clarkson here, and watch the trailer here:
Seven great films. If you are inspired by the lofty vision of freedom, you’ll appreciate every one of them.
The legendary actor Marlon Brando once said, “Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings.” I don’t know if that’s fair or not, but I do know that occasionally, whether on purpose or by accident, even Hollywood gets something right.