For me, the best history movies is Revolution, staring Al Pacino. This movie is a little weird from an artistic point of view; it was majorly panned by the critics. However, from a historical point of view, this movie is awesome. The movie is dark and gritty (I think they used all natural lighting), the people are all dirty and it presents an earthy view of the American Revolution. Pacino plays Tom Dobb, a fir trader who gets his boat stollen by the revolutionaries when he pulls into New York harbor. They hand him a note for payment, but when he tries to get payment for the note, his son signs up to join the army for a few shillings. Tom is told that they won’t release his son and that the only way he’ll be able to see him again is to sign up himself.
They soon fight in the battle of Long Island, where Washington was routed. Neal York showed us the battle scene in his class on the revolution because he said it was so accurate. Tom and his son run for it but Tom is later dragged back into the conflict when his son is captured by the British. With these run ins with the British aristocracy, Tom becomes converted to the cause and after rescuing his son, joins up in the hopes of creating “a better world.” (It kind of sounds cheesy when I put it that way, but Tom makes a moving speech to his son on the subject while he holds him and his Indian friends cauterize his wounds).
The weird part of the movie is the other major character, Daisy, played by Nastassja Kinski. She’s the rich girl who wants to be a patriot and in trying to present her as naive, she comes across as psychotic. But the point of the story is that Daisy and Tom become converted to the cause and are true patriots at the end.
The movie ends with the US government denying Tom payment for his services, telling him all the land has gone to speculators to pay the war debt. The movie ends with scenes of mayhem celebration in Philadelphia, including blacks shouting “what about our freedom!” They replay Tom’s speech about needing to create a better world which I think was in line with the aspirations of many of the poor farmers of the era, including many who would later be the early Mormons. Thus I think the movie brilliantly captures of the mentalities of the era.
What’s your vote for best history movie?