Politics AND Movies – Does a Movie’s Political Message Really Matter That Much?

It’s an odd movie to have a complicated relationship with, but I have one nonetheless with “The Wind and the Lion.”

For those unfamiliar, it’s an old-fashioned rousing adventure directed by John Milius, a vocal and fairly far to the right Republican. In fact, there’s an interview of him that features what can only be described as a screaming eagle in the background, which rapidly becomes amusing when Milius starts ranting about hippies (for the curious, you can find this on the “THX-1138” special edition). Anyway, it’s got Sean Connery, Teddy Roosevelt, high adventure, and lots of ass-kicking.

It’s also, beat for beat, an articulation and attempted validation of the kind of foreign policy that got us into the Iraq war, which is especially tacky because Milius changed the facts around substantially to support his viewpoint.

But there’s the rub. That’s what a writer does, in Hollywood. They sand off edges, they change things to make facts more palatable. Is Milius rewriting history from a conservative perspective any worse (or any different, bar the political nature) than, say, “A Beautiful Mind” whitewashing John Nash’s sexuality?

I’d argue that it isn’t. This isn’t to say a person shouldn’t be offended if they don’t like the message; of course not. What I am saying is that it’s worth setting that aside and seeing if there’s anything else of merit in the film before dismissing it completely. I think too often, especially lately, a movie is only considered of value if it meets a viewer’s internal checklist, and that sets a dangerous precendent of people not being challenged when they should be.

So, every now and then, I watch “The Wind and the Lion”. I doesn’t quite agree with me. But then, neither do radishes, and I enjoy them too.


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