Yesterday I discussed a film about immigration I wasn’t too thrilled about. But also it was talking about the kind of immigration that most immigrants attempted, the kind that while there was risk the odds were in your favor.
Now onto a form that more or less is unique to the 20th and 21st century. The kind where you are escaping a country so evil, and trying to get to a place so good, that it is literally a journey where death is the more likely outcome. It says something about a country when people regularly climb into unseaworthy rafts (and that’s a generous term) just for the chance to get here. With the exception of a few other Western nations, who pays smugglers to get them to any country but America? And with those other countries (most of them also current or former members of the British Empire as we are—say what you will about the redcoats, but British Common Law is one of the most ingenious and ethical creations civilization has ever come up with). They’re not risking life and limb because the American dream is a lie without basis.
And of course the most dangerous way of all…defection…and we do seem to get more than our fair share (even more when you figure we don’t know about most of it. Let’s be honest, you ever hear of anyone defecting to Russia…I know of only one person who did that—Lee Harvey Oswald, not exactly the poster boy for mental stability. I’m sure there have been others, but the fact of the matter is most people are defecting to liberty not away from it.
And that brings us to today’s movie The Hunt for Red October.
Yes I love Jack Ryan as much as the next person. A man who was paralyzed because of an accident and battled his way back to walking through force of will. What could be more American than the story of a lowly cubicle dwelling analyst through nothing but integrity and drive working his way up from his cubicle in Langley to the Oval Office. But that’s the books and this is about the movie.
And while I actually prefer Alec Baldwin’s Jack Ryan to the other (I know I’m alone in that, I don’t care), this isn’t a movie about Ryan as much as it is about Captain Marko Ramius and the officers of Red October who are willing to risk going up against the entire Soviet Navy just to experience the American Dream.
And what is this lavish dream they wish for that is so superior to the highest echelons of Soviet existence (officers in the military were second only to high ranking party members in the USSR)? What dreams beyond the wildest avarice?
Capt. Vasili Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck… maybe even a “recreational vehicle.” And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Captain Ramius: I suppose.
Borodin: No papers?
Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in… Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Ramius: Oh, at least.
Ignoring the polygamy joke at the end, think about how simple this “dream” is. An RV, a wife, a house, some rabbits (tell me about the rabbits George…sorry couldn’t resist), and some interstate travel.
Granted it’s a movie, but this is the kind of dreams people come for. You know it is. To own a small business in a strip mall. To be able to go where you want. To have a place where your children will be better off than you. Nothing grand and overblown…but something real, something that is worth fighting for (and maybe even dying for).
And this theme of what America offers permeates the whole movie from the first moments to the last scene with Ramius and Ryan. America is a place that you would die for just the chance to get there.
And let us not forget that Ramius is looking for the American cowboy mentality of “I care about what’s right, not about the rules”…or in Ramius’ words “a buckaroo.” Only in America do you not only get that kind of mentality with any regularity, but it is only here that this mentality is praised as the ideal we should all strive for.
Now the rest of the film is just a great thriller and action movie, I don’t even have to discuss why, it’s pretty obvious. Even without the patriotic undertones it would be a good movie, with them it’s really good one (can’t quite say great because I can’t honestly say this is in my top 50 of all time, but it’s up there).