Originally created 06/28/02

Hollywood has never been afraid to take on tyrants



Being a freedom fighter is a funny thing.

They come in all shapes and sizes. A freedom fighter might be the mischievous pre-teen shooting rubber bands at an oppressive English teacher or a battle-hardened warrior fighting against insurmountable odds in some forgotten jungle. But whatever form freedom fighters take, they all have one thing in common - a willingness to fight for their rights regardless of the consequences.

You've got to love 'em.

So, in honor of the freedom fighters that thumbed their nose at oppression 226 years ago in Philadelphia, signing the Declaration of Independence, here is a selection of fine films featuring tyranny-bucking freedom fighters.

BANANAS (1971): Before he caught a chronic case of the dours that lasted for nearly 25 years, Woody Allen produced this frothy film about an American product-tester who falls in with a group of Latin American revolutionaries. While the politics are a little hazy, Mr. Allen's slapstick ode to silent stars such as Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd is pitch-perfect.

CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS (1966): Milos Hrma doesn't want to change the world, he'd be happy doing nothing at all. He is, in fact, the least likely of freedom fighters. Filmed in Czechoslovakia 20 years after the end of World War II, this endearing, bittersweet film details a quiet man in a quiet corner of the world responding to the rigors of Nazi occupation. A film that may be hard to find but is well worth the hunt.

THELMA AND LOUISE (1991): An unapologetic ode to girl power, Thelma and Louise features a fight for freedom made more poignant by the relative smallness of the story. The titular heroines aren't fighting against a faceless army or struggling under the yoke of governmental oppression, but are yearning to be free of the shackles that being a woman in the 20th century has placed on them. A beautifully made film.

IF.... (1968): This allegorical tale, set in the confines of an English boarding school, is a skilled skewering of the British class system. A young Malcom McDowell stars as a put-upon student who engages in a smattering of class warfare. The first part of director Lindsay Anderson's satirical Mick Travis trilogy, which also included O Lucky Man (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982).

STAR WARS (1977): Twenty five years on, it has become difficult to see Star Wars for what it originally was - a small movie about seven disparate characters brought together in a battle for freedom. Since then, that scruffy bunch - an aging warrior, a farm boy, a princess, an outlaw, a furry, 7-foot pilot and a couple of robots - have become icons. And, although it's difficult to see Star Wars through fresh eyes, the timelessness of that quest remains an essential part of the saga.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.