KLTV Quick List: Not-So-Obvious Movies For Your Independence Day - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

KLTV Quick List: Not-So-Obvious Movies For Your Independence Day

(Source: Canva) (Source: Canva)
(KLTV) -

There are some traditional celebrations that go along with the Fourth of July, but as with most holiday weekends, there’s always time for a movie or two.

So we’re offering up a few films that have – at the very least – a loose connection to the festivities at hand, but also aren’t obvious choices.

But first, here’s a quick little history lesson: While July Fourth is the anniversary of the day in 1776 when the Founding Fathers signed our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, America’s actual Independence day is July 2, as that’s when the original 13 colonies were legally separated from Britain.

A lot of historians seem to think that the Declaration wasn’t actually signed until the beginning of August, but we’ll let them sort that out.

So, in no particular order …

1. The Sandlot (1993, directed by David Mickey Evans)

More a quintessential summer movie than an Independence Day movie, The Sandlot absolutely stands the test of time as a film about what summer means to a kid. Yeah the narrative is centered around baseball, but thematically, there’s not a single kid who grew up in America who can’t relate – at least to some degree – to what this group of kids went through.

Why We Picked It: There’s a sequence where the boys take the opportunity to use the town’s Independence Day fireworks display to light up the field for their only night game of the year.

Strictly in filmmaking terms it’s a great scene – it’s well-shot and edited – but when Benny hits that home run, spotlighted by the colors and the explosions, soundtracked by Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful,” it becomes something much more poignant.

Let’s face it, many kids gloss over the finer points of American revolutionary history – it’s just dates and names to memorize for the test. But when you see the looks on those kids’ faces as they’re watching both the baseball and the fireworks, you see triumph, and awe, and a belief in that one moment, that they’re all capable of anything.

It’s a perfect emotional representation of what July 4, 1776 was all about.

2. Blow Out (1981, directed by Brian DePalma)

DePalma’s thrilling love letter to filmmaking concerns a sound engineer (John Travolta) who’s convinced he’s accidentally recorded a political assassination. Thematically it deals with voyeurism, guilt, redemption and, in a sort of metatextual way, the role of cinema in helping to uncover certain truths about all manner of things.

In other words, it doesn’t really have a thing to do with Independence Day.

Why We Picked It: This is definitely the loosest of the bunch, but late in the film, there’s a sequence that takes place during Philadelphia’s Liberty Day Festivities – a March 16 holiday to celebrate the birth of James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution.”

John Travolta’s Jack has Nancy Travis’ Sally set up as bait to catch the bad guy they’re after, but The Bad Guy, knowing that Sally is wearing a wire, waits until the big fireworks show before he attacks her. Jack rushes to save her and it all comes to a climax on a rooftop in front of an enormous American flag.

That shot of Sally reaching out for Jack against that masterfully lit field of red and white stripes is among some of DePalma’s best, most iconic visual moments, and serves as a bleak contrast to the similar scene in The Sandlot, if not a bleak allegorical contrast to the American dream itself.

Blow Out is not a happy, patriotic movie, but it’s phenomenal, and the way it turns a lot of patriotic imagery in on itself is definitely enough to start a conversation, even if you find yourself on the opposite end of it than the film is.

3. 1776 (1972, directed by Peter H. Hunt)

If you’re a holiday movie lover who needs at least one traditional movie on deck, then this should be it. Adapted from the Broadway musical of the same name, 1776 is a musical about the development, drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence with William Daniels, Howard Da Silva and Ken Howard starring as Adams, Franklin and Jefferson, respectively.

It’s immensely watchable, warm, funny, genuine and moving. The songs are clever and stirring and the performances are exactly what you would expect from a cast of this caliber. It’s no replacement for a serious text or lecture on the subject, but it’s as solid a companion piece to either of those things as you could want.

Why We Picked It: Well, the obvious reasons, of course. But one of our favorite things about this movie is that it sort of – in a roundabout way – gives Ms. Abigail Jefferson just as much credit for the drafting of the Declaration. Thomas was struggling with some serious writer’s block and it was her attention that gave him the motivation he needed to put that quill to work.

If nothing else, these movies should get you started on a nice little Independence Day movie marathon. Or, as a little bonus addition, if you don’t have time to sit down and actually watch a whole movie, then put on Pawn Stars in the background as you go about your day.

At least once an episode someone comes in with some really awesome pieces of American history and the experts they call in are full of all sorts of interesting and wonderful information. Either way, we hope you have a great holiday. Don’t eat too much barbecue and be safe with those fireworks.

Happy Birthday, America!

Copyright 2017 KLTV. All rights reserved. 

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