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On Wednesday, we saw a piece of news that Zack Snyder, director of the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, would, one day, like to make a movie about George Washington, in the style of 300. While we find this idea to be beautifully gonzo, it did make us think. They don’t make many big screen movies about the Revolutionary War. There have been a few, to be sure, and some good ones, but considering how many movies have been made about World War II, why haven’t we made more about the American Revolution?
American independence has all the things we love in movies: action, adventure, intrigue, drama. It's all there, but for some reason, the founding of the nation is the stuff of TV movies, mini-series, and exhaustive documentaries, and not always theatrical releases. We think it’s time that changed, so here are six ideas we’re giving Hollywood free of charge. Make these movies.
Biopic Of The Marquis De LafayetteOne of the most interesting figures in the American Revolution isn’t American. The Marquis de Lafayette was a 19-year-old French nobleman who wanted to find glory in a war so badly that when his nation was not in one, he crossed an ocean to fight in ours. He showed up at Independence Hall and offered his services free of charge in order to fight. Lafayette became George Washington’s right-hand man and was present at many of the war’s decisive moments. Since every movie needs to be based on something else, use Sarah Vowell’s fantastic new book on the man.
The Battle Of TrentonPart of the reason that the Revolutionary War probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves for major motion pictures, is because it went on for so damn long. It lasted for eight years, twice as long as the U.S. involvement in World War II. In that case, let’s focus on a short period of time with a couple of major events. In September of 1777, General Washington’s army got its ass kicked at the Battle of Brandywine. It wasn’t close and it wasn’t pretty. It led to some people trying to have Washington ousted as general. However, a few months later, Washington led his soldiers across the Delaware River to surprise the British army at Trenton, New Jersey. The American army was victorious in a battle that is viewed by many as a turning point in the war. We don’t need to see how it turned out. We know how it ends.
A Continental Congress MovieWe know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, "But they already made the world’s most perfect movie about the Second Continental Congress." And you’re right, but we’re not thinking about the film version of Broadway musical 1776. A more straight version of the events in Philadelphia could be an interesting take on the political thriller. Making America happen wasn’t easy. Lots of people in the Congress didn’t like each other, and the wheeling and dealing that needed to get the support of key people wasn’t that different than what goes on today. It could be like a feature length, 18th century version of The West Wing.
The Shot Heard Round The WorldWe’re going to give this movie a specific title, but the trick here is that the title tells you how the movie ends. This would be a period drama about the events that led to the American Revolution. We all in learn in school about how terrible the British Empire was with the whole "taxation without representation" thing. However, it didn’t quite happen exactly like that. Something that’s a bit more true to life would show the nuances on both sides of the situation. There are a number of great parts to play here, and this one could be serious Oscar bait.
A Benedict Arnold MovieBenedict Arnold is the most famous traitor in American history. He started as a captain in the Continental Army, but after some time he felt that he wasn’t being treated very well. He began to supply the British with troop locations and other information before eventually hightailing it out of town and formally joining the other side. We could make Benedict Arnold an anti-hero, or make him the villain, hiding in plain sight. One assumes he had some conflicting emotions to some degree. Even if he didn’t, it’s a movie, we’ll give him some.
The Midnight RideWhether or not you were forced to remember the Longfellow poem in school, you likely know about Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride. As with most revolutionary stories, this one also didn’t happen quite that way. Still, this could be a biopic about the Boston Silversmith whose business goes to hell after the Stamp Act and is slowly turned to revolution. The Midnight Ride was not an action packed race but an act of espionage. Watching him trying to warn civilians of the oncoming troops while avoiding British patrols would make for suspenseful scenes like something out of a Mission: Impossible flick.