The focus here is not on the direct and obvious stuff like Battle of Algiers and All's Quiet in the Western Front, but on the movies that shape our views, our analogies, and our snark. And no, many of these movies are not "good". Here is my list that is long on 1980s stuff, reflecting when I came of NatSec age, more or less. The kids today might have other ideas, but first the most obvious ones (originals unless remakes are clearly indicated):
- Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back. Duh. Return of the Jedi is less central, but still necessary for references to Sarlacc pits, how mercenaries are overrated, and how the Princess does most of the real work.
- Red Dawn: When the Americans are the insurgents. Oh, and for the fun depiction of cold war fears that were wildly out of date even then.
I had a crush on Ally Sheedy.All you need to know about cyber warfare is here. Also, all we need to now about global thermonuclear war--the only way to win is not to play the game.
- Footloose: Best illustration of chicken, probably ghost-written by Thomas Schelling.
- Roadhouse: 'cause sometimes you have to rip out a guy's throat ....
- Point Break: Because Keanu is an FBI agent who surfs.
- Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Because much of war is three dimensional. Oh, and many of our standard operating procedures make a hell of a lot of sense, thanks for the reminder from Lt. Saavik. Also, Kobayashi Maru and the no-win scenario.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: If we don't get some cool rules ourselves pronto, we will be bogus, too.
- Princess Bride. How to strategize while being partially dead and only having a holocaust cloak. Plus how to win a battle of wits with a Sicilian with death on the line. Also, see this.
- The Matrix (why Keanu and Swayze are the keys to this community, I am not sure, but once one accept that reality, things get easier to understand).
- Raiders of the Lost Ark: Because it always has to be snakes; because we are always making it up as we go along, and, well, in this case, whatever the hero does or does not do, the outcome is the same due to some deux ex machina.
- Pulp Fiction
- Clerks--mostly for its analysis of Star Wars
- Fight Club
- Erin Simpson says Zoolander, and when I argue with her, I am usually wrong...
- Big Lebowski, because your friends are often f-ups who upset your plans. This aggression will not stand, man!
- Scott Pilgrim if only for the stuff about the Vegans.
This is just a start. What have I missed? I will be updating as folks remind me and as I remember stuff.