Happy Independence Day!
The Fourth of July marks American Independence from Britain 247 years ago. It’s a day that the entire United States of America celebrates its freedom with fireworks, family gatherings, BBQs, and more.
Freedom is a common topic in sci-fi and fantasy productions too. We bet you can name a few movies and tv shows off the top of your head. You may even hear William Wallace’s speech from Braveheart (played by Mel Gibson) as you read this.
Let’s reminisce and list a few of our favorite movies and TV shows that feature the fight for freedom as a reoccurring or main theme.
An amazingly stylized movie that, at times, looks straight off the pages of Frank Miller’s graphic novel and at others looks like a living painting. 300 is an epic historical fiction directed by Zack Snyder (who at the time was only known for Dawn of the Dead).
This movie depicts the Battle of Thermopylae in 479 B.C., when King Leonidas led 300 Spartans against Xerxes and his invading Persian army of 300,000 plus soldiers. It is told, in story fashion, by a survivor of the battle a year later and begins with the history of Leonidas growing up, being trained, and later tested by the wilds aka through the Spartan Doctrinarian.
Expect powerful heart-pounding music, outstanding special effects, and battles that will have you shouting your own battle cries.
This is a tale of freedom, this is a tale of perseverance, this is a tale of heart.
Basically… “THIS IS SPARTA!”
2. V for Vendetta
Perhaps released a bit before its time. Maybe? Maybe not.
Regardless, V for Vendetta is considered a dystopian political action movie and is set in a not-too-distant future Britain ruled by fascism. Injustice has prevailed, y’all.
The entire theme of this movie is revolution. A vigilante appears wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and rescues a girl from being abused by the secret police. After which, he has her witness some acts of terror he claims to be responsible for. He calls himself “V,” and he has begun a one-man war against Norsefire, the reigning political party.
You may be asking yourself, who is Guy Fawkes?
To save you a Google search, he’s a historical figure that is tied to the Gunpowder Plot, a failed assassination of King James in 1605. When you watch V for Vendetta, you will understand the tie-in.
From the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert to the 1984 film by David Lynch to the Sci-Fi channel mini-series, to the current two-part series by Denis Villeneuve… Dune is a sci-fi legacy franchise about a feudal interstellar empire led by the 81st Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV.
The other great houses of the empire fight for control of the most important planet in the universe: Arrakis (otherwise known as Dune).
Dune is a desired planet because it produces Melange or ”Spice.” Spice is a drug and is also what is required to bend space in long-range space travel, so it is a highly valuable and prized commodity.
When the Emperor suddenly places Arrakis under the control of the House Atreides, it sparks a conflict with the House Harkonnen. There is a huge battle, and the son of the lord of the House Atreides manages to escape and survive. His name is Paul (among other things) and he leads the people of Arrakis, called Fremen, in a rebellion against his enemies.
Sit back, relax, and give one of Dune’s versions a try. Maybe even read the book!
4. Lord of the Rings
The first three epic fantasy films by Peter Jackson represent a lot of things to a lot of fantasy genre-loving people. “Greatest, “Most influential,” and “Masterpiece” are just a few words critics will throw around in their reviews for these movies.
And guess what? It all boils down to the story of a kind and brave hobbit.
Frodo and the Fellowship face insurmountable odds when they seek to destroy the One Ring and dethrone the Dark Lord Sauron. These movies present a clear line between good and bad, and the good guys are very much fighting for future freedom in the land.
Did you know these three movies won a few awards too?
17 Academy Awards total, of which Return of the King won 11 out of the 11 it was nominated for. Someone did something right. Set aside a weekend for this trilogy at over 558 minutes for the theatrical versions.
If you’ve already seen the movies but have not read the J.R.R. Tolkien novels that they were based on, give them a try.
Don’t worry, there are websites to help you keep track of the characters and other vital information.
5. Spartacus (TV)
Set during the first century BC and following the historical events of the Third Servile War, this TV show features Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator, as he leads other gladiators, slaves, farmers, and more against the oppressive Roman Empire.
This show has 3 seasons and a prequel mini-season that are bursting at the seams with graphic sex and gory violence. This one is clearly rated R for “keep your kids and spouse out of the room” while you watch. 😉
Spartacus boasts some entertaining realism mixed with incredibly choreographed fighting and some catchy foul language.
To be totally honest, it’s nice to see the commoners in the arena covered in dirt and filth instead of looking freshly bathed.
This show will not disappoint, but it might make you sad, as the leading actor had to be changed between seasons when he became critically ill. And, well…if you know history…
You have probably seen the multiple Academy Award-winning epic historical fiction from 1995. If not, Braveheart is the story of William Wallace, his revolution against the British invaders, and his bloody fight for Scottish freedom.
The movie itself is critically acclaimed and loved for its blend of action, adventure, drama, and romance. Set in the late 1200s to early 1300s, expect some men in armor and some others in kilts.
While enjoyable, it may not hold entirely true to historical fact. You may think William Wallace, Gibson’s character is “Braveheart,” but in fact that title belongs to Robert Bruce who followed Wallace as king. And, sorry, the blue face paint is not accurate. That paint would have been worn by the Picts a thousand years earlier. But don’t let those tiny details ruin the film for you.
If you have three hours to spare and haven’t seen it yet, we suggest you go for it! It has some gory battle scenes and memorable lines that will stick in your head for days/weeks/years.
OKAY! OKAY! Say it with us!
“…they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
7. Hunger Games
From the young adult novels by Suzanne Collins comes this massively successful series of dystopian films.
In the future, set in the ruins of what was once called North America, children are forced to fight for their home districts in a televised sport. The winner is awarded food and supplies…. but this time, when Katniss wins, she is unexpectedly awarded more.
Her actions and personal rebellion against the authorities of the games have given people the strength to stand up. Unknowingly, Katniss has become the spearhead of a rebellion, and when she finally officially joins the fight, she demands the head of the enemy leader.
The first two movies in the series are considered highly successful with lots of great reviews and critical acclaim. The second two films dropped off some but still had positive reviews and made tons of money. Regardless, they present you with enough entertainment to last 548 mins.
While the books are often read by children, the movies are not meant for them. The movies land a solid PG-13 rating for those who adhere to that system.
If your kids read the book and want to watch the movies, but you tell them they can’t… Be aware that they rebel against you and fight you for their freedom to watch the series.
8. Game of Thrones
You can’t talk about fantasy fiction titles these days without mentioning this household name. George R.R. Martin has written a massive series of epic fantasy novels that were adapted into a highly successful fantasy TV series, and the book series isn’t even done yet!
He’s been writing the most current book for over 10 years! And it isn’t even the last book! The clock is ticking, George!
Sorry, allow us a moment to collect ourselves.
Game of Thrones adeptly opened a magical world and assembled viewers from other types of drama shows into the epic fantasy genre. The story begins with the current king’s tragic passing and King’s Landing, the capital of the combined lands, falling into corruption.
The new rulers and their actions have thrown the lands into complete disorder. Some of the smaller kingdoms fear the ruling House Lannister and disagree with how they have claimed the throne but do nothing. Not all hope is lost. The kingdom of Winterfell, who felt the sharp blade of House Lannister at their throats (a few times) has decided to stand up and fight.
But Winterfall is not the only opposition to the wicked Lannisters. A new contender to the throne is marching across the lands.
Who will win? Unlike Lord of the Rings or some of the other titles listed above, things are not so black and white here in Westeros. No, there are many shades of grey in this world.
(Wait. G.R.R. Martin… J.R.R. Tolkein… Well, this certainly falls under the category of “things that make you go hmmm?”)
There are many more movies and shows that concentrate on freedom and revolution as the main theme. Obviously, many of the Star Wars movies feature this. You might even want to watch Les Misérables cause your boy Wolverine is in it.
Take your pick and enjoy. Happy Fourth of July all!