For July 4th: Three Movies That Represent The American Spirit

In the spirit of American Independence Day, I decided to list some of my all-time favorite patriotic movies. I invite you to criticize my choices and add some of your own in the comments.

A few caveats. The movies do not have to take place on the 4th of July (though some do), nor do they even have to take place in America. The important thing is that the movie has to represent the ideals of America, or in the words of Superman, "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

Oh, and one more thing, let's try to keep the comments from getting too political. I know that not everyone's interpretation of the so-called "American Dream" is the same, which is why this post should be read solely for amusement purposes. I repeat, this post is not intended to make a political statement of any kind.

Independence Day

From Godzilla to the upcoming 2012, director Roland Emmerich has practically made his career out of big budget disaster movies. Whether you think this is good or bad is up to you, but I for one will always have a special place in my heart for Emmerich's first major box office success: Independence Day.

Combining three of my favorite things - Will Smith, aliens, and a whole bunch of stuff blowing up - Independence Day really puts the "Riot" in Patriotism. From Jeff Goldblum perfectly channeling his Dr. Ian Malcolm character in Jurassic Park to Will Smith punching an alien in the face ("Welcome to earth!"), Independence Day has it all. Even Brent Spiner (a.k.a Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) gets in on the action.

While Independence Day can easily be dismissed as a silly action movie, I find it oddly irresistible. I mean, how many times do you get to see the White House demolished by a giant laser?


"They'll never take our freedom!"

Sure, there might be some historical inaccuracies, and, at just shy of three hours, it might be a little long for some tastes, but as far as I'm concerned Braveheart deserved every one of its 10 Academy Award nominations. While Mel Gibson's personal life has taken a somewhat unusual turn over the last few years, there's no denying the man has talent as both an actor and director.

Braveheart contains all of the elements of a classic patriotic story: a dynamic and courageous leader who perseveres against overwhelming odds, moments of terrible tragedy balanced by moments of stunning bravery and heroism, and a crazy Irish guy. (For all our Irish readers, that last line was a joke. Please don't send Screen Rant angry e-mails.)

Although it takes place in Scotland in the 1300's, Braveheart could just as easily be about the American revolution, or the French revolution, know, any revolution. It's simply an awesome movie.


A perfect cinematic expression of the "American Dream," Rocky is not only one of the greatest sports movies of all time, but the greatest underdog story ever told.

Based in Philadelphia (the historical center of the American revolution), Rocky practically drips with patriotic goodness. Not only is the film about Rocky getting a second chance for success in the boxing ring, but it's about Rocky overcoming the self-doubt and fear that has plagued him over a lifetime of bad breaks.

When Rocky is still standing at the end of 15 rounds, even though he has lost the fight, he has won his redemption from a life of failures. He has shown himself, and all of us, that with a little luck and endless determination, you can achieve your dreams. To this day, the strains of "Gonna Fly Now" bring a stir to my heart and a smile to my face.

I know there are dozens more, but these three particularly speak to me when it comes to describing the American spirit of freedom. What films would you add to these?

And Happy Independence Day!

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