List: NR’s Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years

Posted on February 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

The National Review has updated its 1994 list of the top conservative movies with selections from the best conservative movies of the past 25 years, including films like The Incredibles, 300, Forrest Gump, and Braveheart. As with their last list, I have more of an argument with their interpretation of the movies’ politics than with the movies’ quality. As can be expected with a list that reflects the views of several contributors, the definition of conservatism seems to vary — and at times seems to encompass every possible virtue. But all of the films are well worth viewing and discussing.
NOTE: The list is not consolidated so the best way to see it is to go to The Corner blog and search for the term “movies.”

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For Your Netflix Queue Lists

Alan Klavan’s ‘Liberal Myths’ in and About Movies

Posted on October 19, 2008 at 8:00 am

Writer Alan Klavan calls Hollywood movies liberal propaganda in a provocative opinion piece in the Washington Post.
For the past 30 years or so, Hollywood storytelling has been guided by a liberal mythos in which, for example, blacklisting communist screenwriters during the ’50s was somehow morally worse than fellow-traveling with the Stalinist murderers of tens of millions (“Trumbo”); Che Guevara was a dashing, romantic liberator instead of a charismatic killer (“The Motorcycle Diaries”); and the worldwide violence currently being waged by Islamo-fascists is either a figment of our bigoted imaginations or the product of our evil deeds (“V for Vendetta“).

Hollywood moviemakers, in other words, have been telling lies — loudly, constantly and almost always in support of a left-wing point of view. And these lies are most prolific and tenacious when the Hollywood left is lying about itself.

This seems over the top to me. “The Motorcyle Diaries” was about Che Guevara’s early, idealistic years, as though it was a prequel to “The Godfather” that just focused on the time between the night Michael enlisted and the wedding scene that begins the film. Unless Klavan wants to insist that Guevara was intentionally and inherently evil in his twenties, it seems to me part of what makes the movie so intriguing is our knowledge of what he became when the injustice that troubles him so deeply in this film persuades him that the ends justify the means and he loses his ability to resist the corruption of power. And “V for Vendetta” is an allegory that is intended to be open-ended so that it can be interpreted in several ways. The movie begins with a reference to Guy Fawkes, whose foiled 1605 attempt to bomb Parliament is still celebrated every year. And it specifically raises the questions about whether the main characters can be seen as terrorists or as revolutionaries — or both — and how to respond to fascism without becoming fascistic.
He does make some good points:
But Hollywood supports unions, a stalwart Democratic cause, right? Well, yeah, if you watch “Norma Rae” or “Hoffa.” But in real life, filmmakers routinely outsource their productions to places such as Vancouver and Budapest, where they can avoid paying union premiums. And when the Writers Guild struck last year, we saw studio liberals turn into corporate hard-guys in the blink of an eye.
I would not say that “Hoffa” is a valentine to unions, but Klavan’s accusation of hypocrisy is well-founded, especially when it comes to the writer’s strike, and I am delighted to see someone who is politically conservative speak out on behalf of unions.
However, he makes an enormous mistake by characterizing the new Oliver Stone movie about President Bush, “W.,” without having seen it, based only on the trailers and advance work. A screenwriter should know better.
And his accusation that liberals are not patriotic is hogwash. He says,
The meaning of the word patriotism is “love of country.” If you don’t love your country, you’re not a patriot.
Liberals love America every bit as much as conservatives do, and it is shameful of Klevan to suggest otherwise. Loving America means wanting it to live up to its ideals, ideal of democracy and freedom that transformed the world. The first principle of the founding fathers was their commitment to challenge, even revolution, to keep the country vibrant and constantly renewing itself. In a moment when opposing political candidates are both running on a platform of change, Klavan should realize that we can best show our love for our country by renewing its commitment to the values at its foundation, those same values of freedom of speech that gave him his space in a “liberal” newspaper.

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How Would Wall?E Vote?

Posted on July 9, 2008 at 8:00 am

The chattering classes are already going after that sweet little robot Wall?E. Some on the right accused the film of being leftist propaganda because of its environmental message. As the New York Times points out:
Blogland moves at the speed of thought, however, and already the right-wing backlash to the right-wing backlash against “Wall-E” is underway.wall-e-poster1-big.jpg
Other conservatives are embracing the film as an exemplar of conservative values. Beliefnet’s own Crunchy Con Rod Dreher writes that Wall?E

embodies a traditionalist conservative critique of modernity, one that advocates a more or less Aristotelian view of humanity and politics. Philosophically, this is one of the most subversive movies I’ve ever seen. Crunchy cons, this movie is for us.

Of course the movie is neither conservative nor liberal. If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if all you look at is partisan politics, everything you see has to be categorized as either for or against whatever position you are espousing. This is especially the case if you are on deadline — or if you would like to leverage a hugely popular movie by attempting to appropriate it for your cause.
Like all great art, “Wall?E” is far too nuanced and layered to be used as anyone’s soundbite. And the attempts to do so say far more about the speaker than they do about the message of the film and the views of the people who made it. Those who argue that the film is “leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind” are saying that it is left-wing to point out that human beings have been careless with the earth’s resources in a way that could lead to making the planet uninhabitable and that corporations do not always have the best interests of the community as their top priority. Beliefnet’s Crunchy Con argues that this critique is a fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of conservatism.
Technology emerges as a villain here — but it’s a complicated villain, as I’ll explain. Technology allowed for the development of the consumer economy, and the creation of the fantastic spaceship that allowed humanity to escape an earth it despoiled with technology. But technology also shaped the consciousness of the humans. It led them to break with nature (Nature), and to think of technology as something that delivered them from nature. As humanity became more technologically sophisticated, the film argues, they became ever more divorced from Nature, and their own nature…Consequently, they’ve become slaves of both technology and their own base appetites, and have lost what makes them human.


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