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Red dawn

Threat advisory: Guarded - General risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

In our time, no foreign army has ever occupied American soil. Until now.

It is the dawn of World War III. In mid-western America, a group of teenagers bands together to defend their town and their country from invading Soviet forces.

Starring Patrick Swayze as Jed Eckert, C Thomas Howell as Robert, Lea Thompson as Erica, Charlie Sheen as Matt Eckert, Darren Dalton as Daryl Bates, Jennifer Grey as Toni, Brad Savage as Danny, Doug Toby as Aardvark, Ben Johnson as Mason, Harry Dean Stanton as Tom Eckert, Ron O'Neal as Bella, William Smith as Colonel Strelnikov, Vladek Sheybal as Bratchenko, Powers Boothe as the Colonel and Frank McRae as Mr Teasdale. Written and directed by John Milius.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Red dawn image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film action war teen Soviet WWIII resistance fighters

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Field Agent Keith Dehle

Theatrical report

Like an extended episode of Before they were famous, Red dawn stars a cast of now well-known actors including Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Grey.

On an unremarkable morning in a typical mid-west USA country town, while students sit in a class room listening to a lecture, enemy paratroopers begin landing on the school ground. With a burst of machine gun fire the USA has come under attack. In an amazing escape which highlights the strength of USA manufactured vehicles and the inability of dozens of heavily armed invaders to stop a ute, some of the students manage to flee the town now over-run by the heavily armed invaders. Grabbing a heap of provisions from the family-run servo on the outskirts of the now blazing town, the group of teenagers head up into the mountains and become guerrilla warriors in their attempt to defeat the hostile attackers and regain their town, their freedom, and the good old US of A.

Red dawn is by and large a USA propaganda statement defending the right of its citizens to have ready access to guns, to drive big pick-ups and wear those uniquely American university jackets. It may come across as belittling any country whose population speak with a South American or Russian sounding accent or indeed anyone with a big black moustache (even though the west have come to associate these with evil intentions though images of Colonel Gadafi and later by Saddam Hussein).

Interpreting the movie a little deeper, it is not just about patriotism but about loyalty to one's friends and family. It is also about human endeavour in the face of adversity and how tact and teamwork by a minority can outwit a formidable foe. Of course, a constant supply of hand grenades and rocket launchers always helps here.

Red dawn is good all-round entertainment but the story needs to be kept in perspective. Watching the chilling opening scenes of a high school coming under fire, a teacher being shot in cold blood and students' bodies left hanging out of broken windows may have been good entertainment in the mid-80s but is resoundingly chilling when seen in light of recent events at places like Columbine High School. It may cause some to question whether scenes like this are really necessary especially in films that are intended to appeal to younger and more impressionable members of society. Perhaps a good time to begin a deep and meaningful discussion.

Slightly dated, but watchable if only for light entertainment value.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • *

Security censorship classification

M (Violence)

Surveillance time

109 minutes (1:49 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: 18 October 2000

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