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  #1  
Old 11-20-2012, 02:15 PM
Human Action Human Action is offline
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Films that are anti-democracy

I saw the Ralph Fiennes version of Coriolanus earlier this year, and I was struck by the anti-democratic tone of the film (yes, I know it's a Shakespeare adaptation). It depicts the masses having no political will of their own, instead easily manipulated by cynical demagagues. The character of Coriolanus openly despises popular rule as allowing "the crows to peck the eagles." The film seems to suggest that a strong ruler, who loves the people but is not bound to their will, is the ideal form of government.

As an American, that message seems to be very rare in the films released here. I thought on it for a bit, and could only think of one other film that I would call anti-democracy: The Last Samurai, which glorifes the samurai aristrocracy, and demonizes the Meiji government's reforms as selling out the Japanese culture to Western interests.

What other films are openly, or implicitly, anti-democracy?
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  #2  
Old 11-20-2012, 02:21 PM
Andy L Andy L is offline
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Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
I saw the Ralph Fiennes version of Coriolanus earlier this year, and I was struck by the anti-democratic tone of the film (yes, I know it's a Shakespeare adaptation). It depicts the masses having no political will of their own, instead easily manipulated by cynical demagagues. The character of Coriolanus openly despises popular rule as allowing "the crows to peck the eagles." The film seems to suggest that a strong ruler, who loves the people but is not bound to their will, is the ideal form of government.

As an American, that message seems to be very rare in the films released here. I thought on it for a bit, and could only think of one other film that I would call anti-democracy: The Last Samurai, which glorifes the samurai aristrocracy, and demonizes the Meiji government's reforms as selling out the Japanese culture to Western interests.

What other films are openly, or implicitly, anti-democracy?
You should see "Gabriel over the White House" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel...he_White_House), in which the hero (the President of the US) dissolves Congress and rules as a dictator, saving the nation and the world from disaster. No, it's not intended ironically.

Last edited by Andy L; 11-20-2012 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:00 PM
Grey Grey is offline
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The Star Wars prequels spring to mind.
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:05 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Not exactly anti-democracy but considered pro-totalitarian by many, Hero (Ying xiong) from 2002 features an assassination attempt on a king who is taking over various other states of ancient China. The latest assassin (after 3 previous failures) gets close to the king, and reveals that his family was killed during one of the king's battles to take over another state.
SPOILER:
The king reveals that one of the previous assassins failed because he was convinced by the king that he is the only hope for peace in the region, unifying the warring states under his rule by force. The current assassin believes this as well, leaves, and is accidentally killed by another wannabe-assassin when he tries to explain his viewpoint. He receives a state hero's funeral.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 11-20-2012 at 03:06 PM..
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  #5  
Old 11-20-2012, 03:17 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Originally Posted by Grey View Post
The Star Wars prequels spring to mind.
I don't think so. While the plot involves a failure of democracy, the destruction of a democratic society, and its replacement with a totalitarian system, is unambiguously portrayed as a tragedy of galactic proportions. For the movies to be anti-democracy, it would have to view the rise of the Emperor as a good thing, not a disaster.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:25 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
Not exactly anti-democracy but considered pro-totalitarian by many, Hero (Ying xiong) from 2002 features an assassination attempt on a king who is taking over various other states of ancient China. The latest assassin (after 3 previous failures) gets close to the king, and reveals that his family was killed during one of the king's battles to take over another state.
SPOILER:
The king reveals that one of the previous assassins failed because he was convinced by the king that he is the only hope for peace in the region, unifying the warring states under his rule by force. The current assassin believes this as well, leaves, and is accidentally killed by another wannabe-assassin when he tries to explain his viewpoint. He receives a state hero's funeral.
You need to rewatch that movie, that's not how it ends at all, your own cite says so.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:33 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
As an American, that message seems to be very rare in the films released here. I thought on it for a bit, and could only think of one other film that I would call anti-democracy: The Last Samurai, which glorifes the samurai aristrocracy, and demonizes the Meiji government's reforms as selling out the Japanese culture to Western interests.
See I disagree with this as well. The samurai fought for an independent Japan as opposed to a puppet government, not a democracy, controlled by the US in order to exploit Japan's people and resources.
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  #8  
Old 11-20-2012, 04:36 PM
TV time TV time is offline
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Lost Horizon - either version, I suppose, but probably the Ronald Coleman one a bit more.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:40 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle Slow Moving Vehicle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
Not exactly anti-democracy but considered pro-totalitarian by many, Hero (Ying xiong) from 2002 features an assassination attempt on a king who is taking over various other states of ancient China. The latest assassin (after 3 previous failures) gets close to the king, and reveals that his family was killed during one of the king's battles to take over another state.
SPOILER:
The king reveals that one of the previous assassins failed because he was convinced by the king that he is the only hope for peace in the region, unifying the warring states under his rule by force. The current assassin believes this as well, leaves, and is accidentally killed by another wannabe-assassin when he tries to explain his viewpoint. He receives a state hero's funeral.
I came to post that movie. The Chinese government loved it, because it is great propaganda for one-party rule. It's also a stunningly beautiful and moving piece of cinema, that transcends both its message and its genre. Definitely recommended.

And for what it's worth, Zoid is right. The movie ends with
SPOILER:
Nameless being killed by the order of the King, because he was, after all, an assassin. I think you're thinking about Broken Sword, who was killed by Snow because he could not kill the King.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:45 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Right on regarding the Hero corrections; I apologize as I was posting in haste. It has been about a decade since I last saw it and my memory was fuzzy. Regardless, the story supports a totalitarian solution.
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  #11  
Old 11-20-2012, 04:56 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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"Triumph of the Will" is too obvious, right?
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:13 PM
Icarus Icarus is offline
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Casting a broad net, I suppose any story involving a King or Queen triumphing in some way would be considered anti-democratic, to some degree. No?
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:31 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
Casting a broad net, I suppose any story involving a King or Queen triumphing in some way would be considered anti-democratic, to some degree. No?
Nope. Queen Amidala did pretty well... up until she died. But the democracy lived on, even though it had an elected monarch.
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  #14  
Old 11-20-2012, 05:33 PM
stuyguy stuyguy is offline
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Anti-democracy films? Almost all of the fairy tale movies made since the beginning of cinema would qualify, with some of our most cherished Disney flicks at the top of that list!

Am I the only one who is offended to the core whenever some princess, queen, king or other privileged-by-birthright-only royal is foisted upon the audience as the hero of a movie? The founding principle of the USA was a rejection of the concept of monarchy, based on the logic that such a system is inherently undemocratic.

I say, "Down with Ariel, Simba, Prince Charming, Pocahontas and all the rest! Let democracy reign! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!"
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  #15  
Old 11-20-2012, 05:41 PM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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The first interactive movie, Kinoautomat (1967) was ironically anti-democratic. It was a kind of "Choose your own adventure" film where no matter what decisions were made by the voting audience the end result was always the same - The hero's apartment goes up in flames.
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  #16  
Old 11-20-2012, 05:52 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Is Birth of a Nation too obvious? Black people stuffing ballot boxes in the South, and so on?
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Originally Posted by stuyguy View Post
The founding principle of the USA was a rejection of the concept of monarchy, based on the logic that such a system is inherently undemocratic.
No it wasn't. The founding principle of the USA was that the monarch was being an arse, not that he shouldn't have existed at all.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 11-20-2012 at 05:54 PM..
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  #17  
Old 11-20-2012, 05:56 PM
Human Action Human Action is offline
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Originally Posted by Andy L
You should see "Gabriel over the White House" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel...he_White_House), in which the hero (the President of the US) dissolves Congress and rules as a dictator, saving the nation and the world from disaster. No, it's not intended ironically.
Wow, that is mind-blowingly bizarre. I need to see this for myself. Did America flirt that hard with fascism, or is this the work of a few radicals?

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Originally Posted by Grey
The Star Wars prequels spring to mind.
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Originally Posted by Miller
I don't think so. While the plot involves a failure of democracy, the destruction of a democratic society, and its replacement with a totalitarian system, is unambiguously portrayed as a tragedy of galactic proportions. For the movies to be anti-democracy, it would have to view the rise of the Emperor as a good thing, not a disaster.
The democracy in question, i.e. the Galactic Senate, is portrayed as ineffectual and maddeningly slow, as per the scene where Queen Amidala pleads with Chancellor Valorum and the Senate to come to her planet's defense. The Senate is easily led, and seduced into giving more and more power to a demagogue, though this figure, the eventual Emperor, is portrayed as an even worse option. The strongest voice for reason and democracy in the films would be the Jedi, so perhaps Lucas was endorsing a theocracy of monks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoid
See I disagree with this as well. The samurai fought for an independent Japan as opposed to a puppet government, not a democracy, controlled by the US in order to exploit Japan's people and resources.
We differ on whether the Meiji Restoration was beneficial to the Japanese people, but the "independent Japan" the samurai fought for was one wherein they ruled as an aristocracy over peasants with no legal rights to speak of. The film takes the side of the samurai, which I found appalling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchoth
"Triumph of the Will" is too obvious, right?
I was only thinking of narrative films, but documentaries should count too, right? Any other documentaries come to mind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus
Casting a broad net, I suppose any story involving a King or Queen triumphing in some way would be considered anti-democratic, to some degree. No?
Possibly, though that might be more of an ademocratic (if that's a word) film than an anti-democratic one, since no alternatives are mentioned nor seem to exist within the fiction world. Still, that could be called implicitly anti-democratic.

Last edited by Human Action; 11-20-2012 at 06:01 PM.. Reason: spelling
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  #18  
Old 11-20-2012, 05:58 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
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Is Birth of a Nation too obvious? Black people stuffing ballot boxes in the South, and so on?
But the Klan in the film was "protecting" democracy by keeping Blacks from voting.
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  #19  
Old 11-20-2012, 06:00 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Wow, that is mind-blowingly bizarre. I need to see this for myself. Did American flirt that hard with fascism, or is this the work of a few radicals?
Interestingly, it's the work of a bunch of hardcore Progressives, and was paid for by William Randolph Hearst. It was mostly aimed at glorifying FDR and his occasional strong-arm tactics.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:42 PM
Sam A. Robrin Sam A. Robrin is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Interestingly, it's the work of a bunch of hardcore Progressives, and was paid for by William Randolph Hearst. It was mostly aimed at glorifying FDR and his occasional strong-arm tactics.
I've heard a rumor that the script was ghost-edited by FDR himself.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:23 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus
Casting a broad net, I suppose any story involving a King or Queen triumphing in some way would be considered anti-democratic, to some degree. No?
Possibly, though that might be more of an ademocratic (if that's a word) film than an anti-democratic one, since no alternatives are mentioned nor seem to exist within the fiction world. Still, that could be called implicitly anti-democratic.
I think one can make the argument that many such films are more protodemocratic (not pro- but proto-; not actually for democracy, but philosophically headed in that direction). Specifically, the ones where the royal in question is fighting to save the peasants from the evil witch/bandits/Evil Duke/etc, and is acclaimed as a hero by the commoners for his or her efforts; they are treating the common people and their desires as if they matter, and the support of the common people as something of value. As opposed to just neglecting the needs and desires of the commoners, squeezing them for taxes, sending them off to die in wars, and stomping on them with the iron boot when they get out of line.

The more a king or queen tries to do what the people want and act in their interest, the more they are engaging is something close to an informal democracy. Although a clumsy, limited and unstable one since it lacks formal broad based polling (aka voting) of what people want, and lasts only as long as the royal feels like keeping it up.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:26 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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That's a good point. When you look at it that way, Animal Farm is as much an indictment of democracy as it is communism (which I suppose may actually be what Orwell intended, given his opinion of the plebes).

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 11-20-2012 at 09:27 PM..
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  #23  
Old 11-20-2012, 09:40 PM
Ibn Warraq Ibn Warraq is offline
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
I don't think so. While the plot involves a failure of democracy, the destruction of a democratic society, and its replacement with a totalitarian system, is unambiguously portrayed as a tragedy of galactic proportions. For the movies to be anti-democracy, it would have to view the rise of the Emperor as a good thing, not a disaster.
If anything those movies struck me as rather absurdly pro-democracy. Remember that's the one which had a planet in which the Queen is an elected position and the people think nothing of electing 14-year-old girls to be their leaders.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:47 PM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
The democracy in question, i.e. the Galactic Senate, is portrayed as ineffectual and maddeningly slow, as per the scene where Queen Amidala pleads with Chancellor Valorum and the Senate to come to her planet's defense. The Senate is easily led, and seduced into giving more and more power to a demagogue, though this figure, the eventual Emperor, is portrayed as an even worse option. The strongest voice for reason and democracy in the films would be the Jedi, so perhaps Lucas was endorsing a theocracy of monks?
The key difference is, the rise of Palpatine as an autocratic emperor is clearly not being portrayed as a good thing. The slow and ineffectual democracy was a much better choice, in hindsight.

One thing I found interesting in the Star Wars prequels, was that they don't have any concept of double jeopardy. In Episode 2, Princess Amidala complains that the Trade Federation leaders still haven't been convicted even though they've been tried 3 times Still, the Empire wouldn't even bother with a trial, so the old ways are still better.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:57 PM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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One thing I found interesting in the Star Wars prequels, was that they don't have any concept of double jeopardy. In Episode 2, Princess Amidala complains that the Trade Federation leaders still haven't been convicted even though they've been tried 3 times Still, the Empire wouldn't even bother with a trial, so the old ways are still better.
I just figured there were three mistrials.
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  #26  
Old 11-20-2012, 10:05 PM
Human Action Human Action is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stuyguy
Am I the only one who is offended to the core whenever some princess, queen, king or other privileged-by-birthright-only royal is foisted upon the audience as the hero of a movie? The founding principle of the USA was a rejection of the concept of monarchy, based on the logic that such a system is inherently undemocratic.
Offended to my core, no; but it has always bothered me that little girls are expected to be fascinated with princesses, since the idea is rather at odds with American values of hard work and equality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmer J Fudd
The first interactive movie, Kinoautomat (1967) was ironically anti-democratic. It was a kind of "Choose your own adventure" film where no matter what decisions were made by the voting audience the end result was always the same - The hero's apartment goes up in flames.
That is fantastic! And a novel method of weaving anti-democratic ideas into a film.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Interestingly, [Gabriel Over The White House] the work of a bunch of hardcore Progressives, and was paid for by William Randolph Hearst. It was mostly aimed at glorifying FDR and his occasional strong-arm tactics.
Really?? That had to be absolutely chilling for FDR's opponents to see in a theater; I would take it as a not-very-veiled threat. It was released five months before the principals of the Business Plot came together, and three years before the "switch in time that saved nine"...I wonder what influence, if any, it had on the political mood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs
I think one can make the argument that many such films are more protodemocratic (not pro- but proto-; not actually for democracy, but philosophically headed in that direction). Specifically, the ones where the royal in question is fighting to save the peasants from the evil witch/bandits/Evil Duke/etc, and is acclaimed as a hero by the commoners for his or her efforts; they are treating the common people and their desires as if they matter, and the support of the common people as something of value. As opposed to just neglecting the needs and desires of the commoners, squeezing them for taxes, sending them off to die in wars, and stomping on them with the iron boot when they get out of line.

The more a king or queen tries to do what the people want and act in their interest, the more they are engaging is something close to an informal democracy. Although a clumsy, limited and unstable one since it lacks formal broad based polling (aka voting) of what people want, and lasts only as long as the royal feels like keeping it up.
That is a very interesting take. This thread has turned fascinating for me. However, could elements you cite above (treating the people like they matter, acting in their interest) be a manifestation of paternalism, or noblesse oblige, rather than proto-democracy? By which I mean, such stories maintain a clear separation between the hero-king and the commoners; he acts on their behalf because he's a good ruler, but is by no means their equal. Almost like propaganda for the idea of being ruled by your betters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
When you look at it that way, Animal Farm is as much an indictment of democracy as it is communism (which I suppose may actually be what Orwell intended, given his opinion of the plebes).
The film versions of Animal Farm are another good selection, it is absolutely anti-democracy.

This may be a bit of a reach, but I submit 300.

SPOILER:
One of the seemingly democratic Spartan Council's key officials is bribed by the Persians to allow their invasion to succeed. King Leonidas ignores the venal, cowardly Council and leads his 300 to war, saving the Greek civilization in the process.


Films named so far:
Coriolanus
The Last Samurai
Gabriel Over The White House
Star Wars prequel trilogy
Hero
Lost Horizon
Triumph Of The Will
Kinoautomat
Birth Of A Nation
300

Last edited by Human Action; 11-20-2012 at 10:06 PM..
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:06 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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We differ on whether the Meiji Restoration was beneficial to the Japanese people, but the "independent Japan" the samurai fought for was one wherein they ruled as an aristocracy over peasants with no legal rights to speak of. The film takes the side of the samurai, which I found appalling.
Something that occurred to me when watching this one was that Cruise's Samurai deftly swooped in to prevent Japan from becoming an unequal ally to the US...and instead, set the stage for it to become an independent power ruled by fiercely nationalist militarists. Oops.
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  #28  
Old 11-21-2012, 09:15 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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...I say, "Down with Ariel, Simba, Prince Charming, Pocahontas and all the rest! Let democracy reign! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!"
Much as I enjoy the work of J.R.R. Tolkien (note my username), he was very skeptical of democracy and once half-jokingly described himself, IIRC, as a "monarchical anarchist." Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings deal, in part, with the restoration of a rightful king to a deserved throne, much to the joy of the people (re: Thorin and Aragorn). In his letters, Tolkien did say that Aragorn, at least, had a proto-democratic council to advise him and that he was bound by the rule of law, but you don't much sense of that from the books. Benevolent despotism seemed to be the typical method of governance among the good guys of Middle-earth.

Watchmen is, I think, anti-democratic.
SPOILER:
Ozymandias fools the elected leaders of his own and other countries, not to mention the unelected leaders of the Soviet bloc, to avert a war. Granted, the stakes are extremely high, and WWIII might very likely have broken out and extinguished humanity had he not acted as he did, but the fact remains that he acted in such a way as to undemocratically manipulate elected officials, believing himself to be wiser and more far-sighted than they.


Just about all those movies about a "tough cop who doesn't play by the rules" are, at root, anti-democratic, as they suggest that the laws adopted through the democratic process hamstring (irony alert!) law enforcement personnel, and are better ignored for the common good. Examples: Black Rain, Miami Vice, Basic Instinct, SWAT, etc.

May I suggest you see Lincoln for a celebration of democracy in all its robust, cumbersome, messy, sometimes less-than-savory glory.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 11-21-2012 at 09:17 AM..
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  #29  
Old 11-21-2012, 09:23 AM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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No surprise that the better samurai-theme movies are made by the Japanese, not Hollywood, and show how the indiviruals who best honor its traditons are ususally its victims (Seppuku, Samurai Rebellion, etc.)

To the OP, Juarez isn't ultimately anti-democratic, but it makes a good case against it. The young Porfirio Diaz (who was partly of Japanese ancestry, incidentally) is captured by the French and receives a strong explanation from the Liberal-monarchist Maximillain on the advantages of having a leader who puts "the peoples" interests above parlimentary squabbling. He makes a convincing case - not just a strawman, and Diaz is allowed to return to Benito Juarez, who gently points out the flaws in Maximaillian's argument.

(real-life irony: Diaz became Mexico's dictator, and Mussolini's father named him after Juarez)

Another anti-democratic POV is given by Livia on her deathbed in I, Claudius. She admitted that she murdered and otherwise destroyed everyone she did for the sake of Rome, which, if left to return to the Republic, would destroy itself with endless factionalism and civil war.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:28 AM
glaeken glaeken is offline
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I came to post that movie. The Chinese government loved it, because it is great propaganda for one-party rule. It's also a stunningly beautiful and moving piece of cinema, that transcends both its message and its genre. Definitely recommended.

And for what it's worth, Zoid is right. The movie ends with
SPOILER:
Nameless being killed by the order of the King, because he was, after all, an assassin. I think you're thinking about Broken Sword, who was killed by Snow because he could not kill the King.
I always see the message of Hero as Nameless seeing the King represents the lessor evil compared with continual war. He recognises that at some point people need to stop seeking revenge to end the continual fighting and the King while far from perfect is their best option for stability.

Of course this could be the film transcending its own intended message
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:06 AM
Human Action Human Action is offline
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
May I suggest you see Lincoln for a celebration of democracy in all its robust, cumbersome, messy, sometimes less-than-savory glory.
I have, and that was part of what I loved about it. Very much pro-democracy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
No surprise that the better samurai-theme movies are made by the Japanese, not Hollywood, and show how the indiviruals who best honor its traditons are ususally its victims (Seppuku, Samurai Rebellion, etc.)
Hollywood portrayals of other cultures tend to be either exalt their enlightened, pure, spiritual ways (Native Americans and East Asians in particular) or treat them as brutish villains, without a lot of room in between.

Another film: Superman IV: The Quest For Peace

SPOILER:
Concerned about a possible nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and spurred to action by a child's letter, Superman heads to the UN. He addresses the delegates: "For many years now Iíve lived among you as a visitor. Iíve seen the beauty of your many cultures. Iíve felt great joy in your magnificent accomplishments. Iíve also seen the folly of your wars. As of today, Iím not a visitor anymore, because the Earth is my home too. We canít live in fear. And I canít stand by idly by and watch us stumble into the madness of possible nuclear destruction. And so Iíve come to a decision. Iím going to do what our governments have been unwilling or unable to do. Effective immediately, Iím going to rid our planet of all nuclear weapons." This announcement of government-by-Superman is greeted with wild cheers from the UN and the public, and Superman flies around the world collecting every nuclear warhead, and throws them into the sun.
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  #32  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:10 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Things to Come, the British film version of H.G. Wells' novel The Shape of Things to Come. Generations of constant war leave the remaining democracies helpless, with local leaders devolving into petty tyrants. A technocratic, fascist organization conquers them all and establishes unification and order and progress, with re-emergent democratic movements depicted as merely destructive and short-sighted.

Another vote here for Gabriel Over the White House - it's amazing, and scary, that there was a time when Hollywood could actually produce such a film.
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  #33  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:49 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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Originally Posted by glaeken View Post
I always see the message of Hero as Nameless seeing the King represents the lessor evil compared with continual war. He recognises that at some point people need to stop seeking revenge to end the continual fighting and the King while far from perfect is their best option for stability.

Of course this could be the film transcending its own intended message
There's a small but telling moment in the film that most people miss: early on in his conversation with Nameless, the king says that after he unites China, he'll start looking abroad for other kingdoms to conquer. However, the end text states specifically that what he actually ended up doing build the Great Wall, leaving the rest of the world outside his realm, and turning China inward. I think we were supposed to understand that his confrontation with Nameless, and the enlightenment he reached concerning Broken Sword's pictograph, are what brought about this change of heart.

From a storytelling point of view, it could be argued that the king was in fact the film's central character. It was his story, not that of the heroes.

Last edited by Alessan; 11-21-2012 at 10:51 AM..
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  #34  
Old 11-21-2012, 03:34 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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The movie Starship Troopers is even more fascistic (although arguably somewhat tongue-in-cheek) than the Heinlein book which very loosely inspired it.

We never really learn how the Wizard government works in the Harry Potter books or movies. Everyone doesn't vote for the Minister of Magic, for instance; seems like the Wizarding world is a semi-benign oligarchy, at best.

I remember a reviewer of the widely-panned Sylvester Stallone version of Judge Dredd complained that viewers were "left with a choice between different flavors of fascism."

Anytime members of the military of a democratic society stirringly say "To hell with our orders!" (I'm thinking of Data in Star Trek: First Contact, but there are others), that is, at least in part, an antidemocratic film. Obedience to civil authority is a bedrock value for the military in a free country.
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  #35  
Old 11-21-2012, 03:54 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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What were Spain's movies like under Franco? Did they try to conflate Democracy with Communism? Or, like UFA under Goebbels and Cinecitta under Mussolini, just crank out mostly escapist pablum?

The Spanish Facist section of my already modest film knowledge is a blank except for a clip from a biopic of Franco, where he argues down his brother's republican viewpoint.
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  #36  
Old 11-22-2012, 10:49 AM
Reno Nevada Reno Nevada is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
There's a small but telling moment in the film that most people miss: early on in his conversation with Nameless, the king says that after he unites China, he'll start looking abroad for other kingdoms to conquer. However, the end text states specifically that what he actually ended up doing build the Great Wall, leaving the rest of the world outside his realm, and turning China inward. I think we were supposed to understand that his confrontation with Nameless, and the enlightenment he reached concerning Broken Sword's pictograph, are what brought about this change of heart.

From a storytelling point of view, it could be argued that the king was in fact the film's central character. It was his story, not that of the heroes.
The king in Hero is, of course, Qin Shi Huangti--not the poster, the other one. The one who burned almost all the books in China. The one who buried scholars alive. The one who became a byword for evil for 2000 years--basically the go-to bad ruler example before Hitler. The one who had his heart removed by the Old Man of the Mountains, causing Li Kao and Number Ten Ox endless troubles.

The ten crimes of Qin:

Abolition of feudalism.
Building the Great Wall.
Melting down the people's weapons.
Building too many palaces.
Burning books.
Killing scholars.
Building the emperor's tomb.
Seeking immortality drugs.
Banishing the crown prince.
Inflicting cruel punishments.
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  #37  
Old 11-22-2012, 12:32 PM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
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Bob Roberts certainly warns of the dangers of democracy.

The latest Batman trilogy is all about a privileged individual forcing his will on a city. Batman's been a fascist since Miller's DKR.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:05 PM
TV time TV time is offline
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How about "The Wizard of Oz?" In places it seems more communistic than anything else. In others, meritocracy.
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  #39  
Old 11-22-2012, 03:44 PM
RikWriter RikWriter is offline
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Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
The latest Batman trilogy is all about a privileged individual forcing his will on a city. Batman's been a fascist since Miller's DKR.
Batman doesn't rule the city, nor does he seek to. He doesn't even seek to personally punish the criminals he catches, instead turning them over to the police. Being an extra-legal vigilante doesn't make him a facsist.
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:52 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
See I disagree with this as well. The samurai fought for an independent Japan as opposed to a puppet government, not a democracy, controlled by the US in order to exploit Japan's people and resources.
Eh. The Satsuma Rebellion was primarily about re-establishing the power of individual feudal daimyos, not popular sovereignty, and secondarily about fomenting external war to give the samurai class something they wanted to do -- kill people (Koreans in this case).

Quote:
Saigō was a strong proponent of war with Korea in the Seikanron debate of 1873. At one point, he offered to visit Korea in person and to provoke a casus belli by behaving in such an insulting manner that the Koreans would be forced to kill him. A war would not only spur the strengthening of Japan's military, but would restore to the samurai their raison d'Ítre.
And, as always, money.

Quote:
The modernization of the country meant the abolition of the privileged social status of the samurai class, and had undermined their financial position.
As it happened, the defeat of the rebellion did NOT result in Japan being a puppet of Western interests -- Japan remained essentially in control of its own destiny, and wound up giving the West a run for its money in 1941.

Perhaps the claim that the movie is supposedly also based on the "opening" of China by Western mercantile interests has confused things,

Quote:
It is also based on the stories of ... and Frederick Townsend Ward, an American mercenary who helped Westernize the Chinese army by forming the Ever Victorious Army.
...but the rebellion in Japan was not really about Western oppressors -- it was about local oppressors resisting national oppressors.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:01 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Regarding the OP, how about The Scarlet Pimpernel? The movie portrays the hero saving the ruling elite from the excesses of the French Revolution. While it is undeniable the Revolution turned horribly bloody and much injustice was done, the past history of the kings and aristocracy of France is filled with all sorts of horrible bloody crimes against the populace. After reading Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, it's pretty hard to sympathize with the French nobility, even though we know individuals who suffered in the Revolution had not personally committed those excesses.

And of course, the Scarlet Pimpernel was motivated partly by traditional British power politics -- at all costs, prevent a single unified Continental power from coalescing -- in addition to his humane motivations.

Certainly the movie has elitist / anti-populist undercurrents.
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  #42  
Old 11-22-2012, 07:41 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle Slow Moving Vehicle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glaeken View Post
I always see the message of Hero as Nameless seeing the King represents the lessor evil compared with continual war. He recognises that at some point people need to stop seeking revenge to end the continual fighting and the King while far from perfect is their best option for stability.

Of course this could be the film transcending its own intended message
As Nameless is leaving on his mission, Broken Sword attempts to dissuade him by writing a character in the sand. The word was, I believe, "tien shun", which was translated "our country".

I had a buddy who was very interested in east Asian cinema; he showed me Hero on DVD about a year and a half before the U.S. theatrical release. The DVD was subtitled in English, but not the same translation as the theatrical version; in that, "tien shun" was translated "one under Heaven". There is probably not one exact translation from Mandarin to English, but "one under Heaven" is certainly capable of an antidemocratic, pro-one-party rule interpretation.
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  #43  
Old 11-22-2012, 10:23 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
Bob Roberts certainly warns of the dangers of democracy....
Well, there are certainly quite a few movies that show the seamy side of democracy without necessarily saying that some other system of governance would be better. In addition to Bob Roberts, off the top of my head I can think of Advise and Consent, Head of State, Ides of March, All the King's Men, All the President's Men, The Best Man, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Tanner on Tanner, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and The Candidate.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:24 PM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
I don't think so. While the plot involves a failure of democracy, the destruction of a democratic society, and its replacement with a totalitarian system, is unambiguously portrayed as a tragedy of galactic proportions. For the movies to be anti-democracy, it would have to view the rise of the Emperor as a good thing, not a disaster.
The movies attempt to put forth that message. They fail, many of the audience leave with symphathy for the Empire which let's face it was much better.


Another movie: Syriana
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  #45  
Old 11-23-2012, 12:42 AM
Gerald II Gerald II is offline
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Yeah the Star Wars prequels end up being anti-democratic. The people can't do anything and their elected officials are ineffectual, tied up in bureaucracy. And a dictator controlling everything is also bad.

What's good? A small elite (the Jedi) who are superhuman and don't need laws and regulations to keep them from doing what's right, and are only bound by their own code.
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  #46  
Old 11-24-2012, 01:46 AM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Originally Posted by Andy L View Post
You should see "Gabriel over the White House" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel...he_White_House), in which the hero (the President of the US) dissolves Congress and rules as a dictator, saving the nation and the world from disaster. No, it's not intended ironically.
Yet another vote for this film. One of the more interesting bits is that it accurately predicts the threat that airplanes posed to warships with the President displaying that tactic to cow the rest of the world. Also rather progressively the mobs of unemployed people protesting (based on the Bonus Army) included both whites and blacks while they seem to have used actual Asians to portray Asian characters.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:28 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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A post WWII British comedy come to mind, though I'm not quite sure it fits.

Passport to Pimlico -- A ancient Royal Charter is found granting a neighborhood in London to a minor French royal. The descendant of the royal is found, and the neighborhood secedes from England. There's more to it of course, but it's a very fine film and enjoyable whether it fits or not.
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  #48  
Old 11-25-2012, 08:58 AM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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In addition to what's been mentioned above, it's hard to consider The Last Samurai to be anti-democratic when Meiji Japan wasn't a democracy in any way, shape, or form.
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  #49  
Old 11-25-2012, 10:37 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Well, there are certainly quite a few movies that show the seamy side of democracy without necessarily saying that some other system of governance would be better. In addition to Bob Roberts, off the top of my head I can think of Advise and Consent, Head of State, Ides of March, All the King's Men, All the President's Men, The Best Man, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Tanner on Tanner, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and The Candidate.
And, perhaps best of all, Lincoln.
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  #50  
Old 11-25-2012, 10:42 AM
DxZero DxZero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK84 View Post

Another movie: Syriana
Not the I disagree with you (I might), but what specifically about it is anti-democratic? It is anti-interventionist for sure, but the concept of democracy isn't really taken to task.
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