Thursday, 28 May 2009

Red Dawn

Great concept - America is invaded by a coalition of Communist countries following a Soviet agricultural disaster. Shock troopers parachute into Colorado, intent on machine gunning droning history teachers to death. In the chaos, Patrick Swayze and a band of survivalist jocks skip town to hide out in the mountains, eventually forming their own mini-Mujahideen. John Milius' Red Dawn was among the first films to receive the PG-13 rating from the MPAA. The rating was created in response to parent group complaints about graphic violence in PG rated family blockbusters such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins. A median certificate between PG and R was demanded. After conferring with cinema chain power brokers, MPAA president Jack Valenti hit upon PG-13.

Red Dawn is a prime example of the mature content charade now associated with the rating. No foul language, no nudity or sexual content (although Red Dawn does contain some fleeting allusions to anal gang rape), but you can have as much bloodless violence as you like, as long as it doesn't stray into grim methodology. Thus, Red Dawn is full of sniper-post ambushes. Partisan children strafe ineffectual Soviet special forces from on high. All very detached and unconvincing. At times Red Dawn does flirt with a conversation on the brutalisation of child soldiers, particularly when the squad rescue a F-16 fighter pilot, but any notions of examination are quickly buried under jingoistic triumphalism. Red Dawn's slyest touch is the make-up of the vengeful invading forces. Rather than them being strictly Russian, the first wave of troops are Spanish speaking soldiers drawn from Latin America. So much for Radio Swan eh?

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