Americans, perhaps more than any other country, sure love to blow their trumpet (usually to the tune of the star spangled banner).
And cinema over the years has been a great excuse for them to show the world just how amazing their great nation is, so we thought – since it’s the 4th of July and all – that we’d pay tribute to some of the finest, brazenly bold examples of American cinema being unashamedly patriotic.
Top Gun (1986)
In the ’80s no-one was more of a poster boy for all-American charm and success than Tom Cruise. So just think of how much it got the yankee audiences going when he donned a naval officer’s uniform and took to the skies, all in the name of American freedom. Top Gun includes every Americanism one can imagine, from fist-pumps to hell-yeahs right down to its obsession with cars, shades, motorbikes and steamy sex. It’s an American film in every over-bloated sense of the word.
Most American quote: “It’s the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied. It’s time for the big one”
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saving Private Ryan might be one of the most successful blockbusters in history, but it’s all packed full with American propaganda and cringe-worthy patriotic quotes. From the very first image of the film (a tattered looking American flag) the film establishes a tone that implies that America has suffered more losses than anyone else in the war. This was certainly one film Spielberg failed to give a trademark “universal” feel too.
Most American quote: “The Statue of Liberty is kaput” – that’s disconcerting.”
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America, unashamedly American? OK, we know the clue is in the title, but really this film is even more cloyingly American than you’d expect. First off, was there any real need to have it set during the second world war? I mean, we know Hollywood likes to put its American heroes in the midst of battle (see above) but surely an American superhero doesn’t need such a scenario to look heroic. Basically this film was a chance to pit real all-American virtues against the evil of the rest of the world. We get it already, you guys are all heroes.
Most American quote: “Arrogance may not be a uniquely American trait, but I must say, you do it better than anyone”
Rocky IV (1985)
There’s perhaps no greater iconic American image in cinema history than when Sly Stallone’s Rocky stands battered and bruised with the American flag draped over him after his triumphant victory over the evil, stone-faced Russian, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Once again, it’s a case of America pitching its cinematic heroes against the “other” – in this case it’s big bad Russia. Could there be a Cold War analogy here?
Most American quote: “Without some damn war to fight, then the warrior may as well be dead, Stallion!”
Forrest Gump (1994)
If life is like a box of chocolates to Forrest Gump, then the film itself is like one giant all-American cake that wants to eat itself whole, star spangled sprinkles and all. It could be said that Forrest is an analogy for American diaspora itself, travelling far and wide, spreading good will, family values and American virtues – well, all the good ones at least. And ultimately his naivety leads him to be controlled by others as they abuse the power they have over him; but at least purity and goodness win out in the end. Wait, that doesn’t sound like America at all…
Most American quote: “The best thing about visiting the President is the food! Now, since it was all free, and I wasn’t hungry but thirsty, I must’ve drank me 15 Dr. Peppers.”
The Patriot (2000)
Mel Gibson is once again playing another heroic leader, marching people towards battle and fighting for the security and honour of his nation. I mean, that’s what he was doing in Lethal Weapon, right? The Patriot is the kind of film that chooses to whack you over the head with its message, instead of bothering to apply the slightest hint of subtlety – as the image of the battle-weathered, family man-cum-patriotic warrior bounds over the battlefield holding the American flag proudly by his side. It’s all about as authentic as Mel Gibson’s constant apologies for his verbal indiscretions. I mean seriously, just give it a rest already.
Most American quote: “This is not a war for the independence of one or two colonies, but for the independence of one nation!”
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Instead of wasting both my time and yours explaining why this is an outrageously American film, I’ll simply refer you back to its title.
Most American quote: “Whenever we get too high-hat and too sophisticated for flag-waving, some thug nation decides we’re a push-over all ready to be blackjacked. And it isn’t long before we’re looking up, mighty anxiously, to be sure the flag’s still waving over us”
OK, we’ve all had a good cry during this film (don’t even deny it). But if you’ve ever managed to look beyond the streams of tears pouring out of your eyes, then perhaps you might have noticed just how ridiculously blinkered the whole thing is – I mean, there’s a meteor heading towards earth, I’d hardly think the first port-of-call would be to train a bunch of imbecilic American oil riggers to save the planet – that’s just the lamest excuse ever for real American heroes to save the day. At least they had a Russian on board that helped sa…oh wait, what happened to him? Never mind then.
Most American quote: “You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”
Independence Day (1996)
“Dear Aliens, when you’re going to destroy the earth, we’d really appreciate it if you did it on our national holiday… y’know just so we can be the centre of attention. We humans can be a little silly like that. Regards, Amuurica”
Most American quote: “We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”