When I was a teenager I’d dress in red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July and say I was being “patriotic for France,” because I thought I was the edgiest, coolest little shit ever. And because I still think I’m the edgiest, coolest little shit ever, at least sometimes, here are movies you can watch this Independence Day that celebrate the spirit, the culture, and the history of countries that aren’t America. Hon hon hon.
China—Ip Man and Ip Man 2
“LOLOL, Japan. You think your wimp-ass fighting style can defeat our Chinese Wing Chun? Are you sure? Are you suuuuuuuure? DONNIE YEN AS IP MAN ATTACK.” And its sequel: Japan is England this time, and Ip Man has to fight *gasp* a boxer! Will the cultural stereotype with the comically exaggerated accent prevail? Will Sammo Hung wow everyone in a hundred-mile radius with his supernatural agility? Will I watch the fish market scene more times than I probably should?
Or if you don’t want to watch Donnie Yen punching things (why don’t you want to see Donnie Yen punching things?)…
…go to Netflix. Type “Red Cliff” into the search bar. “Red Cliff: Theatrical Version” will come up. Click on it. Punch your screen in the face. Do not watch the theatrical version of Red Cliff. It took what was originally two movies and smashed it into one for American audiences, the justification being that Chinese audiences would be more familiar with the decisive Battle of Red Cliff on which the movies are based, so Americans should get a vastly simplified version. Shockingly, having 288 minutes instead of 148 minutes actually helps people not familiar with historical figures like Sun Shangxiang (Princess Vulcan Neck Pinch), Sun Quan (Chinese Faramir), and Zhou Yu (Tony Chiu Wai Frickin’ Leung) become familiar with who in the hell they are.
AKA the movie set in a museum that was done all in one shot. Technically it’s brilliant, but unless you’re really into either Russian history or cinematography you miiiiiight find yourself a little bored at what is literally just a 99-minute jaunt through Russian history and culture. It’s like Disney’s It’s a Small World ride, but for fancy people.
This isn’t patriotic in the way that most other movies on this list are. There are no famous moments in French history or straw men representing other countries to set the adorkable Parisienne Amélie against. But there is the most French character to ever French, for certain (idealized) values of how you can France the most French.
The United Kingdom—The King’s Speech
Rah rah Britain. Rah rah treacly “inspiring” story that rode the cliché train to Oscar glory. Rah rah Colin Firth, you are better than this.
Czech Republic—Burning Bush
Originally a miniseries made for HBO Europe by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, Burning Bush tells the true story of Jan Palach, a history student who immolated himself in 1969 to protest against the Soviet invasion of then-Czechoslovakia. Or, more accurately, of the protests and legal drama that consumed the country following his sacrifice. It’s not a happy-happy-yay-yay-look how awesome we are with our fight scenes! patriotic movie like, say, The Patriot, because as it turns out that era in Czech history was really damn grim. All the same, this movie has a heavy-duty emphasis on the self-sacrifice and yen for justice of the Czech people that qualifies it for a spot on this list.
Pop in this movie about the Irish Civil War, sit back, and remember a time before Liam Neeson was in high-caliber movies instead of Taken 5. Not that I’m judging him—you do what you need to do, Mr. Neeson. But still. Meeeemmmorriiieeeessss.
I’m not sure whether this should rightly be considered a “patriotic” film or one that espouses an overexaggerated cultural stereotype… or both. Maybe both. Regardless, as Australian films go, it’s a damn sight more patriotic than Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Germany—Triumph of the Wills
Well, I’m not wrong about the “patriotic” part! You can skip the “watch this on the Fourth of July” thing, though.
(picture by jnn13 on Wikimedia Commons)
Rebecca is currently sitting at her computer in her underwear, because that is what the Founding Fathers died for so that I could do, dammit.