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John Simkin

Political Cinema

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I have reached the age where very few new films excite me. This is reflected in the fact that the only two films on my list to see are both documentaries: Fog of War and Bus 174.

One of the most distressing aspects of modern film-making is the lack of interest in political ideas. However, here is a list of five great political films. I would be interested in hearing other people’s views.

You might be surprised that there are no Ken Loach films in my list. Although a fine filmmaker his political films are far too sentimental. His television film, Days of Hope (1975) was pretty good though.

(1) Gillo Pontecorvo, Battle of Algiers (1965)

(2) Alan J. Pakula, All the President’s Men (1976)

(3) Costa-Gavras, Z (1969)

(4) Bernardo Bertolucci, The Conformist (1970)

(5) David Miller, Executive Action (1973)

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(3) Costa-Gavras, Z (1969)

For 'Z', I'm really a big fan. Costa Gavras did some other films on the same backgroung: cold war, communism, struggle for liberty mainly with Yves Montand.

I just can recommend it!

I agree with you for Fog of war. It's such an interesting film! I didn't know that much about Mc Namara and this 'film' just enlighted some visions I had on this period. I went to see it with students and they loved it.

Another film I can think of is 'Bloody Sunday' by Peter Greengrass. Honestly, it's one of the best film I have ever seen. (if one can consider it as a political film?)

But I just like Ken Loach films ;)

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'One Day in the lIfe of Ivan Denisovitch' - never released on video - is one I would include on the list. Not only does it vividly portray Stalin's camps, but some of the dialogue readily captures the essence of Stalinism - 'Do you mean even the sun obeys Comrade Stalin?' asks Ivan Denisovitch. Absolutely spellbinding.

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On BBC tonight there is another good political film called Wag the Dog. Before a Presidential Election, a spin-doctor (Robert De Niro) and a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman), join efforts to "fabricate" a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal.

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Guest Andrew Moore

Alan Pakula's The Parallax View (political thriller).

Costa Gavras's Missing.

Oliver Stone's Salvador and Nixon.

Richard Attenborough's Gandhi.

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