"Had I the heavens embroidered cloths, inwrought with the golden and silver light, the blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet. But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams” - He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven by William Butler Yeats
So this is our third and final day of VIVA LA REVOLUTION! This three day event has been a collaboration between myself and fellow blogger Neil Fulwood from The Agitation of the Mind, who by the way has written up his own series of articles on his blog exploring the same theme: revolution on film! I must say it’s been a great pleasure talking about all these revolutionary films! The last two nifty articles I published were on real life revolutionaries who lost their lives fighting for their beliefs and their own revolutions. They basically said: “This is wrong, and I say NO to it! And I say to hell with you!” I respect those real life revolutionary leaders because they stood up for their humanity, problem is that in the real world, when this happens, when an individual or a group stand up against a powerful and oppressive government or system, more often then not they are met with death.
A student behind the gates of the University of Puerto Rico, in front of her a sign made by students that reads: "A country without education is a country of slaves"
That’s the way things seem to go in this world. You go against the system, you perish. They got the guns, the got the power, and what have you got? A brain and a mouth, and though these can be powerful, trust me, guns, armor and ammunition will win over them every time! Maybe you are living in a country where everything is fine and dandy, and you are not feeling that oppression, you don’t feel the foot of the system stomping on your face, stomping your liberty, but you can be certain of one thing, things are not alright in other parts of the world. Puerto Rico is suffering from this ailment right now, but so are students, universities, schools and societies all across the world.
Students form a human chain against the unnecesarilly oppressive police force in front of the University of Puerto Rico
There seems to be a collective attack on education, a classist fight where education is being reconstructed as something that will only be available for those with money. You can go on the net and look up revolts in Greece, France, England, Chile, Argentina…it’s a world wide phenomenon. Governments have aimed their guns at education, and the masses are fighting back. Many students across the world are going into full blown anarchy. Burning cars, hitting cops, graffiti all over the walls, the streets filled with chaos. But out of necessity. This is the poor fighting for their right to be able to educate themselves! To have a decent life, to dig themselves out of the poor life. Unfortunately, the rich and powerful will have none of that! They want the rich to get richer and the poor even more poor. When this kind of oppression happens, the people recognize it, the feel it and they get angry. Unfortunately, governments seem to simply turn their faces the other way. They don’t listen to the peoples demands, they don’t listen to the pleas of the people who put them in power. All they do is reply with violence. They send their soldiers to hit, maim, push, shove and even kill those who dare stand up.
They sometimes even kill those who decide on going against the system. That’s the sad truth about the whole ordeal, revolt is answered with death. Sometimes one death happens to scare off, sometimes many, to scare the revolutionaries even more. Sometimes people simply disappear! Right here in Puerto Rico, cops took 17 students prisoners, and for days after the fact, parents didn’t even know where their sons and daughters were taken to. What kind of a world are we living in? Are we prisoners? Or are we free men and women? Are we rulers of our destiny and the destiny of our society and the world we live in? Or are we slaves to an all powerful deaf machine that is destroys culture, knowledge, art, expression and all sorts of freedoms? I leave you with these questions, ponder on them my dear readers! Ponder away! Weigh in these questions with thoroughness and care.
But enough about death and destruction. However sad the world’s outlook maybe, thanks to the magic of film, we have fictional revolutionaries that do manage to beat the system and ‘stick it to the man’ as they say. Filmmakers have taken notice of this stomping of humanity, so much so that even childrens films like Toy Story 3, 9 and Shrek 4 turned their main characters into revolutionaries fighting against oppression! Hey, at least these fictional characters beat the system for us in a way! This avalanche of rebellion on film once again confirms the old idea that art imitates life. So today I will be focusing on these fictional revolutionaries, 20 of them to be exact! Notice how in most of the pictures, the hero has a weapon in hand, and notice what they are fighting against. These fictional revolutionaries are not here to replace the real ones, the are meant to inspire us into dealing with this whole situation as best we can. One thing is for sure, we must not let terrorist governments win, we must not let despotic rulers stay in power, we must stand up for what is right, and we must stand up for our freedom! This is more true now then ever!
Revolutionary character: Sam Flynn
Film: Tron: Legacy (2010)
What is he fighting against? A despotic ruler known as CLU who wants nothing more than for every program to be the same. CLU was a program created by Kevin Flynn, the creator of the program, but Kevin’s creation has now turned against him and has turned into an evil ruler of all programs! CLU wants to control the media and entertainment, in fact, he actually gets the program responsible for all sorts of entertainment destroyed! Sam wants to start things anew, to build a new society from the ground up, but it might mean the sacrifice of someone he loves, his own father. This film adresses that idea of destroying old ideas and replacing them with new ones. Will this ever be achieved in the real world?
Revolutionary character: Col. Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil
Film: Stargate (1994)
What is he fighting against? An alien being who has crowned himself king of an Egyptian like race on an alien planet. He abuses the people, and uses them like his own personal slaves. He lies to them and makes the think that he is Ra the “Sun God” when in fact he is just an alien in need of power and attention. An alien who wants nothing more than to be worshiped like a God. Fortunately, Col. Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil and his crew recognize the alien for what he is and are more then willing to blow him up to smithereens with their trusty nuclear device.
Revolutionary Quote: “Give my regards to King Tut, asshole!”
Revolutionary character: Machete
Film: Machete (2010)
What is he fighting against? An American senator who wants to make an electrical barrier that will electrocute any illegal Mexicans who try to cross the border. On top of that, this is a Senator who enjoys shooting pregnant Mexican women who are crossing the border and after shooting them says “welcome to America!” You know, your basic political power hungry polititian. On this film, Machete is fighting against extremely harsh anti-immigration laws that are being set up by a country who’s main workforce is made of immigrants. The senators ideas and actions are kind of contradictory if you ask me! So, Machete joins forces with a revolutionary leader named 'She' to go up against the oppression and the racism.
Revolutionary Quote: “You just fucked with the wrong Mexican”
Revolutionary character: Robocop
Film: Robocop (1987)
What is he fighting for? He is fighting against crime, but at the same time, against all the bullshit programming that they put into him. In the first film, he was fighting at one point against his corrupt creators and against those prime directives that they put on him. And on Robocop 2, Robocops programmers fill him with hundreads of useless laws and directives that he is obligated to follow, because he has been programmed to do so. These new rules make Robocop docile and stupid, he is no longer himself. When Robocop realizes that he can no longer function properly, he electrocutes himself to erase the programming, after he does so, he is once again in control of his actions. Always thought this scene was indicative of all the unnecessaryly restrictive rules and regulations that a system tries to impose on its people, usually to benefit the government. Sometimes these rules and regulations make it difficult to live our lives, and are usually put there to benefit the system, moneteraly.
Revolutionary Quote: “Dead or Alive, you’re coming with me”
Revolutionary character: Evelyn Salt
Film: Salt (2010)
What’s she fighting for? Her own freedom. She’s a Russian spy who infiltrated the CIA. So now she has the CIA and the Russians after her! She doesn’t want to be a slave to either of them! So she runs from both. I especially enjoyed a sequence in which Salt gets back at those who programmed her from childhood, which is something that happens a lot in modern society, where we are programmed with ways of seeing things and ideas that arent necessarilly moral or even true. So she strangles the guy responsible for twisting her young mind to his benefit! On this film you can really feel the hatred SALT has for those that have controlled her life for so long, we all just want to be free!
Revolutionary Quote: “I’m not a goddamn Russian spy!”
Revolutionary character: Snake Plissken
Film: Escape from L.A. (1996)
What is he fighting for? His life! Once again, the government obligates Snake Plissken to do their dirty work. This time, they ask him to retrieve a remote control that a revolutionary leader has stolen from the United States. This remote control can activate an electro magnetic pulse that can shut off the power of any part of the world, it can even shut down the whole world! Like one gigantic EMP. The President of the United States wants the remote back so he can use it to shut down Cuba. But Snake has other plans! He uses it to shut down the whole world and starts things all over again! Not a bad idea if you ask me! Once again, this film like many others on this list presents us with the idea of destroying the old and starting fresh.
Revolutionary Quote: “Welcome to the Human Race”
Revolutionary characters: Logan 5 and Jessica 6
Film: Logan’s Run (1976)
What are they fighting for? Their lives! Society has decided that after you turn 30 you are useless, and so when you reach 30 you go through a ritual called Carousel where you basically willingly kill yourself. In this way, society avoids overpopulation and keeps things in equilibrium. There is a myth that says that supposedly you kill yourself to be re-born again in a mythical process called “renewal”. Problem is that Logan has just turned 30, and he doesn’t want to die! So he starts running from the “Sandmen” - the police who hunt and kill all those rebels who don’t die willingly! Now Logan and Jessica must run for their lives and from societies crazy rules, or perish! Will they discover a new world outside of the walls of their city? Is there something more out there outside of the dome world they are used to living in?
Revolutionary Quote: “No! You don’t have to die! You can live! Live! Life Clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! There is no renewal!”
Revolutionary character: Luke Skywalker
Film: Return of the Jedi (1983)
What is he fighting for? Freedom! Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader have the galaxy under a chokehold of terror! The resistance has been fighting against them for years and has now launched a full fledged attack against the empire! But its Luke Skywalker who has decided to personally take on and destroy the powerful Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader himself! Will he overcome the darkside and destroy the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction? I find it interesting how on this film, Luke faces the evil government face to face and actually appeals to their humanity, hoping that there is still some of it left within them.
Revolutionary Quote: “Never. I'll never turn to the darkside. You failed your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
Revolutionary characters: Lincon Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta
Film: The Island (2005)
What are they fighting for? Their freedom. You see, Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta are clones that have been born and bred within the confines of a top secret facility. They are taught that this facility is all there is, there is no outside world except for a mystical island paradise which you can end up going to, but only if you win the lottery. Lincoln Six and Jordan Two discover that ‘The Island’ is a big fat lie and that they are really just clones used as spare parts for humans in the real world. So they decide to escape the facility. From their on in it’s a race to the end with the government following these two escapees. Will they ever find their freedom? This film actually surprises me because its a film with a brain, and it comes from none other then director Michael Bay, a guy normally known for making empty special effects laden films. Though this film does have an emphasis on action and effects, it still managed to give a relevant message. Wake up, see things for what they really are. See past the lies.
Revolutionary Quote: “All I know is that people will do anything to survive. I want to live, and I don’t care how”
Revolutionary character: The Jewish Barber
Film: The Great Dictator (1940)
What is he fighting for? He is fighting for the right to be treated like a human being. You see, The Jewish Barber lives a peaceful life with his family and friends. He has a romance going on with a humble yet incredibly beautiful girl from his neighborhood. Things are going just fine until a dictator called Hynkel decides to oppress the people and make their lives a living hell. The once peaceful town of Tomania is suddenly overrun by abusive military police that loves to do nothing more then make everyone live in fear. One amazing moment has The Jewish Barber (who looks exactly like the great dictator Hynkel) replace Hynkel. And so, there comes a moment in which everyone thinks The Jewish Barber is actually Hynkel! The Barber gets up on the podium and gives an electrifying speech about the horrors of greed, and the need in society for liberty, and humanity. If you've never seen this film, do yourself a favor and do so, its a picture with lots of heart and lots of love for the human race. Ironically, this film that stands up for humans and points its finger at evil oppressive governments got Chaplin into trouble because it was considered way to subversive. He had to actually flee from the United States and live the rest of his life in other parts of the world.
Revolutionary Quote: “Even now my voice is reaching millions through out the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators will die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
Revolutionary character: Flash Gordon
Film: Flash Gordon (1980)
What is he fighting for? The survival of Planet Earth! Ming the Merciless has his lazers sighted on Planet Earth, and he wants nothing more then to destroy it! Simply to amuse himself. You see, Ming the Merciless is Ruler of the Known Universe, and he loves to step on his loyal subjects. He is all about receiving gifts from every planet and race, but not about giving them the liberty and freedom they ask of him. And if you ask for it, you get zapped into oblivion! Enter Flash Gordon! Quarter Back for the New York Jets and defender of the galaxy! Flash, Dale and Prof. Zarkoff join forces to stop Ming and his rule of terror! Other planets and civilizations join Flash in their quest for freedom until the rebel assault is too much for even Ming and his army or drones to stop.
Revolutionary Quote: “Prince Barin! I’m not your enemy, Ming is! Let’s all team up and fight him!”
Revolutionary character: John Rambo
Film: First Blood (1982)
What is he fighting for? He is fighting to be left the fuck alone. John Rambo served his country in the Vietnam war and even received the Medal of Honor for his time, but when he returns to his country, he is treated like a vagrant by the local Sheriff of a rural town. All Rambo wants to do is visit one of his war buddies, but the local police doesn’t want him in the town. So they arrest him and abuse him. What’s this world coming to when a guy cant even walk into a town in peace? Unfortunately for them, they don’t know that they are messing with a highly trained, war torn, killing machine! And so Rambo escapes to the forest and the police follow in pursuit to trap and kill him. It’s another film that demonstrates how war can completely affect you for life, once a killing machine, always a killing machine. Will Rambo ever find peace and freedom, even in his own country?
Revolutionary Quote: “I could have killed them all, I could kill you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it. Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go.”
Revolutionary character: Tyler Durden/Jack
Film: Fight Club (1999)
What is he fighting against? The system. The way things are. Jack is a guy with a boring ass job, doing the same repetitive boring ass thing every day. He lives in an apartment filled with things that don’t fill him. He feels the emptiness in his life, and wants to ignite the spark within him once again. He wants to feel alive! So he joins Tyler Durden and his underground Fight Club, a place where one can live with out the laws and restrictions of modern society. A place where chaos rules, and the deconstruction of modern society is welcomed. Tyler and his army (known as the “spacemonkeys”) go around destroying every rule set by society. Basically, they are a bunch of unhappy campers who have grown weary of the society they live in. Best part in the film? When Tyler blows up all the credit card buildings so that everyone can start from zero once again, a similar scene can be found in Mario Bava’s Danger Diabolik, where Diabolik destroys all of the governments tax buildings.
Revolutionary Quote: “Fuck off with your sofa units and string green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, stop being perfect. I say, let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may..”
Revolutionary character: THX
Film: THX 1138 (1971)
What is he fighting for? His personal freedom. You see, THX lives in a 1984-ish society in which every aspect of your life is controlled for you. You are urged to consume, to be efficient, perfect. If you step out of line, faceless drone-like cops come looking for you and take you away, never to be seen again. The way society is set up has THX going crazy! He wants to be the ruler of his destiny! He doesn’t want to talk to a fake robotic god, he doesn’t want to take prescription drugs! He wants to have sex! So he escapes! He steals a car and runs away from society, from the system. This film was compleltely influenced by Orson Welles 1984, this was basically George Lucas’s version of 1984. In turn, THX 1138 directly influenced The Island (2005). In this film, the system is so overpowering that the individual (in this case THX 1138) says very little! In fact, THX has almost no lines at all! Most of the dialog in the film comes from the systems constant hammering of their ideas through media.
The system speaks: “Blessings of the state, blessings of the masses…work hard, increase production, prevent accidents, and be happy”
Revolutionary character: John Preston
Film: Equilibrium (2002)
What is he fighting for? Humanity, feelings, art and self expression. In the fascist world of Equilibrium the government does not allow any kind of emotion, feeling or self expression. A special drug is to be taken by everyone so that emotion is suppressed. Much like in Fahrenheit 451, books and art are prohibited. A special police task force known as ‘Clerics’ goes around killing or arresting all of those who break the law and dare to have books or art in their homes. Similar themes can be found in V for Vendetta as well. John Preston is a Cleric who has decided to rebel. He has stopped taken the drug and is interested in reading books! So suddenly, a Cleric who was once at the service of the government suddenly turns and decides to overthrow it! This film is influenced by many similar films that came before it, what makes it interesting is the style in which it was made and the action sequences which are pretty spectacular.
Revolutionary Quote: “To feel is as vital as breath. And without it, without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock…ticking.”
Revolutionary character: Paul Atreides
Film: Dune (1984)
What is he fighting for? The freedom of the Universe! On this film, Paul Atreides a young man descendent of the royal Atreides family, and son of Duke Leto Atreides sides with the Fremen to overtake Emperor Shaddam IV and the Baron Harkonnen who have been ruling the universe with an iron fist. The Fremen want to take control over their home planet and all they need is the right leader to show them the way. Paul Atreides accepts the role as the leader of the revolution and teaches them the ways of war! Together, the Fremen take on the Emperor and his legions of deadly Sardaukar Warriors. Unbeknownst to the Emperor, the Fremen number in the millions. And so, after a violent revolt, the emperor of the universe is forced to recognize the power of Paul Atreides (now known as Paul Moadib) and the Fremen. He is then imprisoned and sent to a prison planet. Paul Moadib takes over Arakis and rules the universe in peace by the end of the film. This film shows, that when the masses get together, their is no stopping them. It demonstrates that idea that we the people are more then them, the government. Should we collectively decide to arm ourselves and walk up to their gates and kick them the hell out, we would win.
Revolutionary Quote: “Long live the fighters!” “I am dead to everyone unless I become what I may be” “He who destroys a thing, controls a thing”
Revolutionary character: John Murdoch
Film: Dark City (1998)
What is he fighting for? Knowledge. He wants to know what is really going on in his world. Why does everyone in the city fall asleep at the stroke of midnight? Why is he the only one awake? And who are the mysterious beings who switch everything around while everyone sleeps? John Murdock must find out! I love this movie because it speaks about the powers that be, and how they can sometimes use society like their own personal guinea pigs. Let’s test this idea and see how it affects them, lets tell them things are this way and see what happens. While the ultimate truth is something else entirely. Sometimes, the way we perceive things is not necessarily the way things really are. I love how the ones who really control everything are unseen by the masses, and are referred to as “The Strangers”, the unseen force behind the way things are. I also love how the main character has these enhanced telekinetic abilities, as if the film was trying to say that our minds and ideas, our thoughts are the ones that can really change and alter things.
Revolutionary Quote: “John, you have their power. You can make things happen by will alone. They call it ‘tuning’ That’s how they make the buildings change. Just now you acted out of self-defense, a reflex. But I can teach you to control your power consciously. Let me help you John. Together we can stop them; we can take the city back!”
Revolutionary character: Max Rockatansky
Film: Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
What is he fighting for? He fights for his own liberty and that of his friends as well. After the nuclear meltdown of the world, everything is reduced to rubbish, and only a few towns living on the scraps of the previous world are surviving. One such town is Barter Town. This town is run by Auntie and her gang of thugs. Auntie sees her command threatened by a guy called Master Blaster, and she wants Max to kill him. When Max can’t do it, he is exiled to the dessert to die. Fortunately for him, he finds a group of kids who have been surviving in an Oasis in the middle of the dessert. They have created their own society, with their own rules. But they are all kids, teenagers at best. So when Max comes along, they see him as their savior and he takes it upon himself to save them. This film has Max leading the kids (always a symbol of the future) and his friends towards an unknown place where they will hopefully rebuild a new better society.
Revolutionary Quote: “I aint no Mr. Walker! I’m the guy who carries Mr. Dead in his pocket! ”
Revolutionary character: Theo Faron
Film: Children of Men (2006)
What is he fighting for? The future of the human race! Theo has the gargantuan task of protecting the only pregnant woman in the whole planet at a time when humanity has lost its ability to reproduce! This is a very bleak picture, humanity has lost all hope for the future, they think that since no one can reproduce, it will only be a couple of more years before humanity completely disappears from the face of the earth. Theo joins the rebels in an attempt to protect the pregnant woman and her child from the military machine. Theo’s mission is to take the woman and her child to meet a group called “The Human Project”, where scientists will try and find a way to help save the future of humanity.
Revolutionary Quote: “Even if they discovered the cure for infertility, doesn’t matter! Too late! World went to shit. Know what? It was too late even before the infertility thing happened for fucks sake.”
Revolutionary characters: Diabolik and Eva Kant
Film: Danger: Diabolik (1968)
What are they fighting for? Themselves. These two guys are the funniest. They aint no Robin Hoods. They don’t steal from the rich to give to the poor. They simply steal from the rich, and keep it to themselves. They simply do it to get back at the government for being such douche bags with society. The government is taking too much in taxes, what does Diabolik do? He blows up the tax buildings! They are corrupt? He steals 10 million dollars from them! And coolest thing about the whole thing is, he gets away with it and laughs an evil maniacal laugh all the way home. His home by the way is this awesome underground lair, complete with revolving bed and a Jacuzzi. On top of everything, Diabolik does all of this with his smoking hot girlfriend Eva Kant. Cant get better then that!
Revolutionary Quote: [Insert Evil Maniacal Laugh Here]
Well, thats it ladies and gents, LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION! Hope you guys enjoyed these articles, and found the informative. Hell, I think its great that we are all aware of what goes on in other parts of the world, we are all one big family, and we gotta help each other! "We are all in this together" says Robert DeNiro's character in Brazil, and thats no lie my friends! There may be imaginary borders and frontiers between countries, but we are all flying on the same big blue and green spaceship my friends, I speak of Planet earth! Thanks to Neil Fulwood from the Agitation of the Mind for collaborating with me on this! It was great man! Looking forward to the next one!