Entertainment

Films Every Politician Must See

'Mr. Smith,' of course, but 'Rocky' and 'American Sniper,' too

Movies can teach us valuable lessons, inspire empathy and show us a side of life we never would otherwise see.

More than a few elected officials could clearly use some time in a darkened theater.

Some politicians have been in Washington, D.C., for too long to remember what it’s like to be an average citizen with traditional struggles and concerns.

“American Sniper” reminds us of the real sacrifices of those who serve.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of films politicians should watch as a patriotic wake-up call. After all, they are our employees, and it’s important we instill in them lessons about life, love and liberty that too often get forgotten inside the Beltway.

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“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — Frank Capra’s classic came out in 1939, but it’s just as relevant today. The Washington machine of cronyism and disconnect that James Stewart fought as the stubborn Mr. Smith is even more entrenched now.

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The story is an essential David and Goliath saga for every American. It’s a look at corrupt politics through the eyes of an Everyman who just wants to do the right thing. We need more Jefferson Smiths, and we need more politicians to learn a thing or two from movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

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“American Sniper” — Director Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film was not only a monster hit but a propaganda tool for liberals eager to tear down its subject. As usual, most cultural observations about Eastwood’s tale of famed sniper Chris Kyle were wrong. In the same way that Eastwood’s classic “Unforgiven” was a deconstruction of violence, “Sniper” served a similar function while capturing the idea of the war hero and the sacrifice and service they give.

We live in a world now where war rages on, and the personal toll is largely ignored. Veterans affairs are too often ignored and bogged down in bureaucracy. Politicians apologize for sending kids to wars they later realize were wrong. “American Sniper” reminds us of the real sacrifices of those who serve.

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The “Atlas Shrugged” Trilogy — Produced by businessman John Aglialoro, the films essentially act like a CliffsNotes version of Ayn Rand’s book broken into three parts. The story concerns a world very much similar to our own — a growing and oppressive government takes more and more away from the people and the prosperous in the name of good. The individual has become a taboo idea, and the idea of “we” has taken over.

The story of “Atlas Shrugged” is a reminder about the essential need to let individual prospers. Imagine a world where people like Steve Jobs are villains, not heroes. “Atlas Shrugged” asks the question: What if the dreamers of the world suddenly had enough and decided to disappear?

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“V for Vendetta” — This violent, libertarian-soaked tale took its cues from a story originally written by comic book guru Alan Moore. The mask of V (a “terrorist” working to start a revolution against an authoritarian government) has become synonymous with anti-government and anti-authority groups. You can find the imagery everywhere from Occupy Wall Street to Tea Party rallies to the hacker group Anonymous.

The movie has been embraced by left, right and center, but its core philosophical appeal is that of anti-authoritarianism. V is a man deemed a domestic terrorist fighting a government that believes its strong-arm rule is what is right for the people. The film shows the power people truly have through art, satire and sheer will against a growing government that oppresses individuality. Politicians should watch “Vendetta” to remind themselves they shouldn’t get too comfortable.

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“Rocky” — Sylvester Stallone’s breakthrough franchise, a saga that continues later this month with “Creed,” drills down into what it means to be an American as few movies can. Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is a man no one would put their money behind. He struggles to pay the bills and prove he’s good enough to be the champion he knows he can be.

“Rocky” reminds us of the Constitution’s simple beauty captured in the phrase, the “pursuit of happiness.” Americans want nothing more than a shining city on a hill where hard work, dreams and a lot of heart can help you be the person you dream of being.

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