“To high treason. That’s what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. […] Here’s to the men who did what was considered wrong, in order to do what they knew was right…”
Okay it’s a silly and fun movie. It’s lacking in depth and real history…oh who am I kidding it’s The DaVinci Code in America. But that doesn’t change the fact that for all of historical inaccuracy (I’m being polite) it still places ideals of America first and foremost.
“Of all the ideas that became the United States, there’s a line here that’s at the heart of all of the others. ‘When a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to render the under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security. ‘ People don’t talk that way anymore. […] It means that if there is something wrong those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.”
Americans in the early days of the nation through the hay day of the Monroe Doctrine and off and on since WWII has understood this principle. All men are created equal and their rights aren’t tied to a Declaration or border, they are inalienable to all…and you have if you wish to be ethical and have the power to do something, you do it or you are not ethical. This is why our government was one that in the early days laid to waste three nations that engaged in piracy and extortion of all of Europe, not just for our own shipping rights, but because it was the right thing to do. And this why this nation above all others believes in personal charity, because it is not the duty of some government bureaucrat to help people, it is the ethical responsibility of people to determine not just need but also worthiness so we do not throw away money on those who would waste it.
And it’s nice to see that this movie understands that ethics are not some bygone passé idea that along with chivalry we have move past, but rather the guiding light and loadstone of our lives.
I will be honest I cringed every time they touch the Declaration in the movie. I know it wasn’t the real thing, but even the thought of putting the Declaration in harm’s way was a horrifying idea to me.
The movie also makes clear the true value of the Declaration. The sanctity of the idea of bringing it back to Independence Hall, the willingness to do anything to protect it, going so far as when Abigail agrees that dropping her (possibly killing her) was the correct move to save the Declaration. Now maybe it’s just me who understands this reaction to the Declaration, but then again I choke when I read it aloud, but I cannot find any holy book on earth, even my beloved Course In Miracles or Bhagavad-Gita, that seems to divinely inspired as to recognize the value of individual human life and the power it has. And this movie, through the character’s reverence for the document, at least shows that I’m not alone.
The movie also shows the American way of thought in the character’s dialogue:
Ben Gates: “No, but I hope it’s real. I mean I’ve dreamt it’s real since my grandfather told me about it. But I want to hold it. I feel like I’m so close I can taste it. But I just…just want to know it’s not just something I my head or in my heart. “
Abigail Chase: “People don’t really talk that way you know”
Ben Gates: “I know. But they think that way.”
Thinking in these grand idealistic ways is a distinctly American trait.
And finally, even the treasure itself becomes just another way to show the greatness of America in the film:
Agent Sandusky: The Templars and the Freemasons believed that the treasure was too great for any one man to have, not even a king. That’s why they went to such lengths to keep it hidden.
Ben Gates: That’s right. The founding fathers believed the same thing about government. I figure their solution will work for the treasure too.
Agent Sadusky: Give it to the people.
That we have entrusted the people of the republic with an awesome power and responsibility (maybe they should try living up to it once in a while).
Overall for all of simplicity and flaws, it is a deeply patriotic film. I’ll be honest I was less impressed by the sequel…but I always have hopes for the third which they keep promising.