Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped/Film
- There is an entire subclass of documentary films that aim for this.
- The Social Network: while you may have good intentions in starting a business, bad decisions made will ultimately affect personal relationships.
- Requiem for a Dream: Drugs Are Bad. What really makes the movie work is that the consequences all of the characters face are all part of a logical chain of events, and that while they are horrible, they are actually pretty realistic. It helps that you just feel so bad for the characters, too.
- All Quiet on the Western Front: The people on the other side of war are just as human as you are. Also, War Is Hell.
- Joyeux Noël has a well-aimed anvil about the humanity of all sides of a war. While it couldn't be called subtle, it manages to be ethically complex and very inspiring. The fact that many of the aspects of the film that might otherwise seem unreal are based on true events from World War I makes it all the more amazing.
- Clint Eastwood made the same point about the WWII Japanese in Letters From Iwo Jima, the companion piece to his American-POV movie, Flags of our Fathers.
- Blood Diamond emphasizes that even people who have engaged in evil have the potential to consciously choose good and redeem themselves. This is shown in the film through a real-life home for former child soldiers which, through kind treatment, gives them a chance at a normal life.
- Brokeback Mountain, emphasizes that gay people are just as capable of romantic love as any straight person, and for depicting the very real pain caused by the closet—not just Jack and Ennis, but everyone around them, are made miserable and complicit in the lie that the two are forced to live.
- Many films made during World War II, with Casablanca being a good example of a work which is explicitly patriotic yet never stops being entertaining.
- The Dark Knight's story was mostly taken from the famed comic "The Killing Joke," where the Joker wants to prove that anyone can have a bad day and turn into someone like him. The comic rides on the aesop that personal choice and free will is an individual trait, that everyone will not do the same thing in the same situation.
- It even adds that while one person can become a symbol, whenever you try to force moral change, people will fight you. For Batman, the mobs resisted his war against them. For the Joker, civilians and criminals alike refused to play by his "social experiment."
- Also, you do not bow to fear. Every time Gotham goes along with the Joker's demands, something terrible happens. Every time they resist him, the outcome is a good one.
- There is nothing at all subtle about the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. The entire film is an indictment against trigger-happy paranoia; at the conclusion, Messianic Archetype Klaatu delivers An Aesop in no uncertain terms. There is no irony, there is no ambiguity, there is only sincere, earnest urgency -- and it works.
- The entire point of The Deer Hunter is to drive in the point that War Is Hell.
- District 9 has plenty of messages about racism: Refugees and minorities deserve respect, racism is bad, the Apartheid is monstrous, and racist people are capable of finding enough humanity within themselves to find redemption (which is a rare anvil to drop, indeed, as some viewers treat bigotry as a Moral Event Horizon on its own and become angry when such characters redeem themselves!).
- Dr. Strangelove showed us that the "arms race" may as well be a bunch of sexually-frustrated men trying to outdo each other. And for that matter, the "missile gap" is about as silly as a "Doomsday Gap" or a "Mineshaft Gap."
- The movie Fail-Safe is basically the serious version of Dr. Strangelove, and actually depicts the horror of a nuclear attack, as it has both Moscow and New York City getting blown-up.
- Good Night and Good Luck... portrays its villain as an unspeakably corrupt madman who will stop at nothing to ruin his enemies' lives. The villain is McCarthy himself, who is played by archive footage of himself. You can't argue with an anvil that falls out of a story that actually happened.
- Frank Capra films are generally Anvilicious in a good way. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; where Mr. Smith does Eagle Land so proud that if you are not, as an American, inspired by his advocacy for the rights of all of us, then you, sir or ma'am, are a communist!
- Secondhand Lions takes time out for Robert Duvall to expressly give this monologue on the moral of the story:
Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.
- Gojira derives a large part of its power from its explicit and not remotely subtle anti-nuclear-weapons message. While the giant dinosaur is something of a Space Whale Aesop, the sheer devastation wrought by the monster was intentionally evocative of the aftermath of a nuclear bomb, showing exactly what one does every time they let a weapon of mass destruction loose.
- Godzilla VS Hedorah provides the very straightforward message that pollution is a huge danger to not only humans, but all life as well... And that we must all work together to stop it.
- John Q raises questions and messages about whether or not health care in the country is truly a service to help the sick or a business just out to make money. It lays it on thick, but it's something that needed (and still needs) to be pointed out.
- The anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun is clear, blatant and obvious in its message from the very first scene. It could not possibly be improved, certainly not by anything remotely resembling subtlety.
- The Day After showed in explicit detail what would happen to the survivors of a nuclear war between the US and the USSR. The message was impossible to miss: The catastrophic events you have witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike against the United States. And it worked! Soon after The Day After (and Threads, an equivalent film in England) was released, various nations started talking seriously about disarmament, instead of making more ridiculous plans to "win" a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan even sent the producers a note after the 1985 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed, stating "You caused this to happen."
- The War Game (not to be confused with War Games) did its job of warning about the horrors of nuclear war a bit too well - it was banned for twenty years because it was considered likely to panic the public.
- The entire plot of WarGames is about how the only way to "win" a nuclear war is not to start it in the first place. Of course, it doesn't go so far as to have an actual war occur, but it gets fairly close, making it pretty effective. It doesn't get much more Anvilicious than having "The only winning move is not to play" right there in the script...
- The 1988 animated English film When the Wind Blows, (based on the comic book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, which is similarly effective) about a retired couple living in the country, who survive a nuclear attack. They do everything they've been told to (largely the equivalent of tarps and duct tape) while waiting for someone in authority to come to their aid while they slowly die.
- Hairspray (both versions) comes with An Aesop about racial tolerance and how anyone can achieve their dreams if they're plucky enough to Be Yourself that's so subtle-as-a-speeding-Mack-truck that it borders on parody. And yet, it comes off as refreshingly optimistic and upbeat and makes the show thoroughly enjoyable.
- The Shawshank Redemption repeats the basic message—that hope is a really good thing—about a billion times over, but that doesn't stop it from being fantastically well done.
- The Chinese film Wait 'til You're Older pretty much hammers home the point that life is a one-way journey and that people should value the time that they already have. This is achieved by having the protagonist take an aging potion as a fast track to adulthood, only to find out that his life span has been reduced to less than a week, and he has an overwhelming need to resolve his family problems before his time runs out.
- Most parents and children are probably glad that Monsters, Inc. dropped the anvil that there's no need to be afraid of your closet.
- Most Disney-Pixar flicks have some sort of underlying, Anvilicious message.
- Pixar gives us a bearable Green Aesop in WALL-E. It also gave us a few other memorable anvils, like "Get off your ass and DO something" and "Corporate culture should not tell you how to live your life". The director claimed the Green Aesop was an Accidental Aesop since it was just required to create the setting.
- While being a kickass action-comedy, The Incredibles has some major messages on both the strength of family and the individual vs. a homogenizing society.
- Brad Bird's non-Pixar film, The Iron Giant, drops the anvil that you are who you choose to be. Nobody programmed you to do anything; you choose who you become.
- The central message of It's a Wonderful Life is that You Are Not Alone.
- October Sky: Knowledge, especially education, plus determination and hard work, can enable you to accomplish any dream, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. (Doesn't hurt that it's a true story, either.)
- Pollyanna and the scene about all the Happy Texts in the Bible. It might be Tastes Like Diabetes to some but in today's society where everyone is taught to Accentuate the Negative and be cynical because positivity is considered "immature", Pollyanna's line about how there are over 800 texts in the Bible telling mankind to be happy is a very telling lesson.
- At its core, Serenity is an attack on do-gooding government social engineers. The first scene even has River, one of the movie's protagonists, stating that the Unification War which decimated the rim planets was the result of government meddling. Word of God says that the Independents were fighting for "the right to be wrong"—the right to have their own way of doing things.
River: People don't like being meddled with.
- The point of Schindler's List is that the Holocaust was bad. This might hardly seem like a message that needs to be repeated, but it's a lot easier to compartmentalize it in an academic setting as opposed to seeing it played out in front of your eyes.
- Silent Running. The natural world is valuable and important, and worth the effort to protect and preserve.
- The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a very solid (and at times brutal) statement on war, and the difference between being a person and being a sheep. McCarthy-era panic just makes an extra-good backdrop to it. After twenty-plus years of "Russians are all soulless killer commies", it also was one of the first to drop the "no, they're just people like us" anvil.
- While Rent tends to get called over-hyped or dated in its extremely optimistic point of view, it wouldn't have made such an impact if it wasn't about a group of broke and starving and (for half of them) HIV/AIDS-positive friends. In spite of everything going wrong, they still manage to have fun and hope for whatever's left of their future.
- Tangled makes no secret of its moral about dreams, but damned if it doesn't do it beautifully anyway. And even better, it actually teaches that people go through life with more than one dream, as opposed to the idea that people are defined by one thing. Or, as Flynn puts it, "That's the great thing about dreams. Once you've found one, you get a new one."
- The Princess and the Frog. Work hard to achieve your goals, and don't go for the quick "too good to be true" route. At the same time though, it's important to not neglect things like friendship or love.
- While the moral in the movie is not in the original novel at all, since Victor Hugo actually hated the Roma like many other people of his time period, Disney's take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame handles its anti-bigotry message far less Anviliciously - and with far more skill - than its immediate predecessor, Pocahontas. This is best illustrated in the song God Help the Outcasts.
- It's hard to name a Charlie Chaplin film which doesn't drop one or more. The Great Dictator is probably one of the oldest films to drop such a colossal anvil. It involves someone else with that same moustache...
- In Stand by Me, the major moral lessons are the importance of friendship and family and that you should believe in yourself and follow your dreams no matter what anyone else says.
- Prayers for Bobby drops the anvil hard on homophobia. The fact that it's a true story makes it all the more powerful.
- The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the first serious Western films made, and it's Anvilicious in a big way. But its anvil is a critical one, maybe even more now than when it was made. In a time when the words "vigilante" and "hero" are seen as synonyms, even while DNA testing gives us a hint of just how many people might be wrongly accused, The Ox-Bow Incident tells a simple, inevitable story that movies like Death Wish and The Brave One wouldn't dare get into: what happens when the righteously outraged vigilante heroes, claiming that the law's failed and trusting their own instincts instead, kill an innocent man?
- Dogma says a lot that needs to be said about organized religion, and how it undermines the most important thing of all; that you have faith.
- There're two important messages in Up, which both tie into one another:
- The first is 'don't ignore what's really important by clinging to your regrets', which Carl learns when he realizes that his house and the associated memories doesn't matter as much as the people in his life right now.
- The second is that 'life is unfair, but you can't let that ruin your chances at being happy'. Carl never took Ellie to Paradise Falls, Russell never sees his dad again, and Muntz had his reputation destroyed. It's sad, but it's not the end of the world. Carl and Russell instead move on with their lives and find happiness regardless, while Muntz becomes corrupted by his own bitterness.
- Terminator 2: There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.
- The 1947 film Gentlemans Agreement is a very anvil-heavy attack on anti-Semitism. Watching it nowadays, it's easy to miss just how controversial this was at the time.
- Fritz Lang's Metropolis says "The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart" about a million times (more in the unabridged version), ending with a shot of Freder (the heart) joining the hands of Joh Frederson (the head) and Grot (the hands). And it's true.
- An in-universe example occurs in Galaxy Quest -- "Never give up! Never surrender!"—as well as the various anvils dropped by the movie itself. Lampshaded at various points by the Thermians.
- Ferngully for its antipollution message and the one of animal testing that's in the uncut "Batty Rap" song. The way the music and Robin Wiliam's narration go, its pretty damn creepy. And all true.
- The Star Wars prequels. Or any movie about the zeitgeist before an oppressive regime starts up.
- The Wave is all about how one should never assume that fascism can "never happen here." It can, and very easily. The Nazis were able to get away with what they did because the people didn't see the warning signs and would rather give up their freedom than risk being cast out of society. The fact that it was based on an actual incident that happened at a California High School only intensifies this.
- Disclosure: No, rape is not okay when it's a woman on man. Not even if the woman is his ex-flame and the man is a reputed horn dog.
- M gives us two: It's important that you watch your children and don't let them talk to strangers, and that, quoting the lawyer, "No one has the right to kill a man who is incapable of responsibility for his actions! Not even the state!"
- Avatar manages to avoid the Science Is Bad pitfall usually associated with simple Green Aesop stories when it is science that can help the planet. The scientists in the film represent the best of humanity, who see the true value of Pandora in its forests that could be used to cure the sick Earth with various biomechanical means derived from the native plants, instead of hoarding the crude Unobtanium, the most obvious resource around. It's the Corrupt Corporate Executives who just want to make a big buck and jingoistic soldiers who seek to demonize and destroy the natives who are the actual villains of the story. The movie shows that science can be good or bad for humanity; it just depends on what kind of people use it.
- Throughout the film of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy spends her time wishing she had Susan's beauty, and eventually has a dream that she has turned herself into Susan, only to find that she (Lucy) no longer exists and that Edmund and Peter no longer remember Narnia. After she wakes up in a panic, Aslan gently scolds her for her vanity, telling her that by wishing to be someone else, she is underestimating her own worth. Perhaps what makes it work is the dream itself - there's something chilling about finding out that your old self never exists and no one remembers it at all.
- American History X. Racism is bad. End of story, and that's including African-Americans' racism toward Caucasian people, not just Caucasian people's racism toward the African-Americans. If someone is a racist, he's racist, no matter which ethnic group he belongs to, and that's wrong.
- Love Actually has "even if you really are attracted to someone, and that particular someone is really attracted to you, sometimes it's just not the right time for romance. Sometimes there are overarching issues that need to be sussed out." Sara was one of the few people in the story who did not get the guy. However, she chose to take care of her mentally ill brother rather than to be with her Love Interest, showing that family is more important than romance. Their final interaction seemed to imply that they really are still interested in one another, but are just putting things on hold.
- This exchange from The Fellowship of The Ring sums up quite nicely the importance of making choices in one's life:
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.
- Paddy Chayevsky's Network is one big anvil on Television and television culture.
"So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth."
"We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds... We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! WE are the illusion!"
- It also has a few other less-than-subtle anvils to drop about humanity, corporatization, and marital fidelity.
Howard Beale: "I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'"
"The whole world is becoming humanoid - creatures that look human but aren't. The whole world, not just us. We're just the most advanced country, so we're getting there first. The whole world's people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things."
- Inherit the Wind is necessary viewing for any who thinks themselves religious and is fearful of thinking for themselves. Such wisdom in the play/film, especially as spoken by Spencer Tracy in the 1960 film, can change your life and set your spirit free:
[challenged to say if he considers anything holy] Henry Drummond: Yes. The individual human mind. In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters.
- The Halloween remake has the aesop that animal abuse is a big warning sign of a future abuser/serial killer.
- In Paris Je T Aime, a collection of short films about the city of Paris made by notable directors. The husband-and-wife team behind Bend It Like Beckham made a short about the relationship between the ethnic French and the growing Muslim community in Paris. A few teenage/college aged boys make fun of a hijabi and try pulling off her headscarf. One of the boys with them lingers to apologize. She's beautiful and intelligent, and they hit it off. He tentatively asks her about her hijab and she explains that it was her choice, it's a reminder of her faith and it makes her feel good. At one point he vists at her house, and her scary male relative is there - oh no! But he's happy to meet the boy and invites him to go for a walk with them, all three together. The movie fades out as the older man makes small talk, full of pride, about the student project she's working on: stories about Paris, but about her own Paris ... Anvilicious as hell? Yes. Sweet, touching, and a refreshingly honest look at the fears non-Muslims have built up around Muslims, as well as what you generally get if you bother to actually talk to a Muslimah? Definitely yes.
- Gran Torino gives us more than a few. First, there's the lesson that killing someone is not "cool", but a traumatic experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Second, being a big damn hero just isn't worth it. Finally, fighting violence with violence is pointless.
- Rambo (2008) has an anvil who seriously needed to be dropped but most movies didn't have the balls to do it. The anvil is that most of times, pacifistic and non-violent ways simply aren't gonna change anything, and are completly useless against evil bastards who kills and mauls innocent people For the Evulz. They will only response with deadly violence towards those who are naive enough to believe in non-violence and then make a good laugh about it. The only thing that can actually stop the murderous rampages of those kind of people is deadly violence paid back on them, because once they themselves are dead, they can't harm another human being ever again.
- A History of Violence has an anvil that is something of a Take That to the glorification of violence in popular media. Killing someone does not - and should not - automatically make you a hero, no matter how much they may have deserved it. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of violence are ugly and life-destroying.
- The X-Men movies made a big deal out of the parallels between mutants and LGBT folks, especially in the second movie when Bobby "comes out" to his parents. It's ridiculous, but when you hear about or have experienced some of the stigma that many people go through these days, you can get why it's still an issue. (Also, being gay would be a lot easier if you could shoot fireballs or something.)
- Captain America: The First Avenger gives us a wonderful anvil that basically tells us that true power doesn't come from attaining actual strength to strong-arm everyone around you, but it comes from within, and that those who are good people will always know the true value of power. Hence why Steve Rogers managed to be a better person than he was prior to the Super Serum, and why the Red Skull (a power-hungry maniac) turned out the way he did.
- The Other Guys drops the anvil that unchecked corporate greed is a bad thing, and can destroy lives. In a Buddy Cop satire movie. But since it came out right after the credit crunch and the resulting economic crisis, the point seems to be that it's not ordinary people that caused the crisis, but rather predatory corporations.
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