Remembering ‘Red Dawn’

80sThen80s now is one of the few accounts I follow on Twitter, because, well…I’m nostalgic for the 1980s.

Today the account tweeted this post about the movie Red Dawn (1984). In response to the poll, I gave the movie a 9. 

Red Dawn wouldn’t necessarily be a 9 if it were released today, mind you. But you have to evaluate a movie by the filmmaking standards of its era. A lot of movies in the early 1980s were pretty rough, compared to the slick, CGI-enhanced productions of today. And so it is with Red Dawn.

This is the setup: The Soviets invade the American heartland. A group of high school kids in Colorado decides to resist. Hijinks ensue. 

The message of Red Dawn is pretty obvious: the need for American vigilance in a hostile world. In a few scenes, the message of Red Dawn is conveyed a little heavy-handedly. (Like the now famous, “They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers” scene.)

But historical context must be considered, too. This movie was made during some of the most tense days of the Cold War. For a while in the early 1980s, ex-KGB chief Yuri Andropov was the top man in Moscow, and communications between the USSR and NATO had virtually broken down. 

Things got better after 1985. Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary, and brought in the reforms that ultimately hastened the end of Soviet communism. But no one could foresee that in 1984. 

The acting in Red Dawn is pretty good, too. This film kicked off the careers of Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Charlie Sheen. 

If you like the 1980s and you’re interested in American culture during the Cold War, this film is well worth your time. 

Best of all, you can get Red Dawn on Amazon.