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 knee-jerk, anti-free enterprise sentiments of hypocrites and “progressive” elitists.
It’s a back-handed tribute to free enterprise that superficial critics can make a lot of money vilifying the very marketplace that enables them to get rich. 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, businesspeople are frequently portrayed as greedy and heartless, while state worshipers of every stripe are often depicted as selfless, romantic idealists who only want to help people. 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.
Every now and then the film industry produces a memorable moment of dialogue — and occasionally, even an entire movie — that breaks the mold. In this first of a two-part column, here are four 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 home schooling over the dull homogenization of government education.
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.
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 and even more, they love to report you. 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. Ideally, 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.”
In next week’s column, I’ll offer three more film recommendations.
Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at email@example.com.