Movies are weird. In particular, American movies. Not movies like Sucker Punch or the Dark Knight Trilogy or Pacific Rim, those movies are pretty much dead on in what they’re delivering. Pure, raw, entertainment. Sure, those films may have some underlying message, but those films are also just a major rush to watch.
No, I’m talking about films like American Sniper, The Interview, and to an extent, The Great Escape and Captains of the Clouds. American Sniper and Captains of the Clouds hold a very odd similarity. Strange because one is about a sniper in the conflict in the Middle East (which mostly is pure fiction), and the other is about Canadian bush pilots joining the war effort in the Second World War. Both are basically massive propaganda films.
Captains of the Clouds was a fictitious telling of Canadian pilots preparing for the war in Europe. By 1939, Canada had entered the Second World War, only a few weeks after Britain had declared war on Germany. By late 1941, the United States had declared war on Japan after an attack at Pearl Harbour. The U.S. government was having a difficult time convincing the American public that a war with Germany was a good idea. So they looked north. Or, more precisely, Hollywood looked north, and created war films about Canadian soldiers going to fight for freedom. Basically, it was Hollywood saying “our northern neighbours are going to fight against this enemy, so we should too”.
American Sniper is also a propaganda film. Based on the book of the same name by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the book has been noted as having completely fictitious events in it, and places where Kyle flat out lied. And the movie is basically the same. There was no enemy sniper that Kyle faced off against (which is basically a copy paste from Enemy at the Gates), and all Iraqis were portrayed as monsters and animals. If anything, American Sniper solidified the fact that Kyle was a murderous psychopath.
But Hollywood is famous for twisting narratives. Such as in The Great Escape, which was based on true events. The movie states that a large number of British and Commonwealth soldiers planned and executed an escape from Stalag Luft III. The focus is on British soldiers, but in reality, 150 of the soldiers who constructed the escape plan were Canadian, including Wally Flood, an RCAF pilot and mining engineer. He was dubbed the tunnel king, and was a technical adviser for the movie. At least in this movie, many of the facts were not twisted into complete fantasy.
And then we have The Interview. A comedy with Seth Rogan and James Franco about two news show hosts who get a chance to interview North Korea’s glorious leader. The CIA hears of this, and convinces the two to stage an assassination plot in an attempt to kill the dictator. It’s a farcical comedy, and nothing more. Rogan plays it straight and Franco plays the utter baffoon, especially with remarks in the movie where the dictator shows Franco’s character a tank and says Stalin gave it to his family. Whereby Franco replies with “in our country, we call him Stalone”. This movie never would have made any waves had it not been for one event. North Korea hackers hitting Sony Entertainment’s servers and releasing information. Followed by North Korea’s glorious leader banning the film. A comedy, and a run of the mill one at that, became a target for freedom of speech.
In this day and age, movies should be about entertaining and maybe have an underlying message. But even then the underlying message is screwed up. Just look at the Hunger Games movies, which depicts incredible oppression against lower class citizens as children are made to fight to the death in an event built to appease the wealthy and powerful. Yet, all the media cares about is the romance, completely ignoring the fact that children are killing each other. Coupled with the fact that many of the characters have been white washed from the book (Katniss, for example).
But as I said, movies, and to a greater extent, the media that reports on them, are weird.