The Changing Theme of Hollywood Patriotic Films

The early decades of 1900s saw the rise of Hollywood patriotic films. Though this genre has become rare nowadays yet some directors find patriotic films as a call for the uplifting of mankind. The 1920s and 1940s saw the two World Wars. It was the perfect time to instill patriotism in the heart of common Americans. During World War II, literally, there were hundreds of films to support the war endeavor.

‘Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress’ and ‘Sergeant York’ are two of the 40s brand of Hollywood patriotic films still remembered. The plotline was almost the same for all the war movies. A young boy who never took troubles in his youth is selected for national duty. He then goes through various ordeals, cheats death, saves people and returns a hero.

Frank Capra was one of the major filmmakers of that time. He produced a series called ‘Why we Fight’; to make Americans realize why they are fighting the Nazis and Japs. It was Hollywood which held hands to fight against the rise Fascism during the wartime.

Now, the enemy has changed; patriots have not. The nationalists in Hollywood patriotic films are waging war against the corrupt system or being targeted by the system. The heroes have changed their battlefield to space, sea or underwater. The main theme has remained same, saving the country or the world from the attack of an alien race, monsters or terrorism. The term patriotic is no longer confined to the concept of protecting the country from foreign invasion by other countries.

The year 1996 saw ‘Independence Day’ assaulting the box office with its concept of rescuing the world from an alien raid. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum save mankind from a possible wipeout. Mel Gibson came up with two back-to-back hits with his ‘Braveheart’ and ‘The Patriot’ to perk up the Hollywood patriotic films genre.

Steven Spielberg tried the concept of patriotism cum war movie in Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Twister, and Schindler’s List. All these films dealt with patriotism, neo realism and redefining the sense.

‘Midway’ starred Charles Heston. It was a classic WWII film, and contained much footage from the real war. The true concept of patriotism in humn mind is inserted by the likes of ‘A Wonderful Life’. This film tells about the sense of faith, hard work, value of family and services to others. ‘Last of the Mohicans’ was another astounding film in the genre of Hollywood patriotic films which showed the hardship and spirit of the builders of a new world.

One of the major problems which have staggered the morality of American people is the influence of Hollywood action films over patriotic films. Action films are marketed by showing mindless gore and violence during the entire screen time. Patriotic films are known to promote patriotism, love for the motherland, a sense of pride, and the responsibility to build up the state, providing service to others, unifying the people in times of crisis.

However, the action films, which have a strong dose of gore, ultra violence, killings, drugs and use of profane language, sink in more quickly among the present generation. The result has been a rise in violence in schools and colleges along with increased number of other degradations noticed in culture and society in general.

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