“Red Dawn”

The operation that captured Saddam Hussein was called “Red Dawn.” Not sure why, as it doesn’t seem to follow normal operation naming procedures for the 4ID as it doesn’t incorporate either ‘Ivy’ or ‘Ironhorse’. Perhaps they knew this one would be significant and deviated. Or maybe someone besides the 4ID controlled and named it. Of course, it could have been named AFTER they bagged the big ‘S’. But even thinking that is too cynical for a great day like today. Maybe tomorrow.

reddawn.jpgOf course, the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear “Red Dawn” is the 1984 film starring Patrick Swayze. The film opens with Soviet paratroopers invading the western United States, and Swayze and his friends run off into the mountains and fight a guerrilla war against the invaders. Don’t deny it. I know you’ve seen it.

(BTW, it’s not good when the lead user comment on IMDB about a film is “not as bad as you think.”) In all reality the film wasn’t too bad. Good stuff for teenagers, and if it’s got a little “rah-rah America” it’s better than a little of the dark cynicism to prevelant in most movies.

Obviously, a Soviet paratrooper invasion of mainland USA was a little far-fetched. But you know what? The writer, John Milius, was using it as a sort of metaphor. Who was really invading the good ol’ US of A?

No one.

The bad guys were already here. They’re headquarted in Washington, DC and they DO field an army that could assault Smalltown, USA.

Here’s part of a Milius interview by Paul Allen (the former Screenwriting Guide at About.com) in 2000:

Allen:I think the film definitely spoke to the certain zeitgeist of the Reagan era in a big respect, which is probably why people took it so seriously.

Milius:It is serious? I mean, so many people say to me, “Oh, what do you think of it today; there is no more Soviet Union.” I say, “That movie wasn’t about the Soviet Union. That movie was about the Federal Government.”

(Emphasis added.) Milius is a gun afficianado and especially likes fine shotguns. Also, part of his response ot a question about what his main writing theme is:

What are we supposed to do, are we supposed to be happy? I don’t think so. I think we’re supposed to put up a good fight.

I remember reading this several years ago and being stunned by it. That whole Soviet invasion idea seemed kind of hokey, even when I was 15. But replace the Soviet paratroopers with US DOJ troopers of some sort, especially in the Ashcroft era, and it suddenly doesn’t seem quite so funny.

I’ve actually meant to post about this for some time, but I never got around to it until this sudden talk of operation “Red Dawn.” I may have originally read about it in Creative Screenwriting magazine, but I can’t find my back issue and links to the CS interview of Milius that I may have read are 404. I recall that he mostly talked “Apocalypse Now,” but the article is titled “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Although Milius seems to have gun control in his mind when he writes about the Federal Government “invading” and tossing dissidents into re-programming pens, it could apply to a lot more than just the Second Amendment. Especially these days.

But in the end, the kids and the shot-down fighter pilot (who could still be an American–just one that didn’t “get with the program”) win. Why does it seem even less likely they’d be able to do so against our government than against Soviet invaders?

Kind of puts the whole movie into a different light, doesn’t it? Or is it just me?


  1. I need John Milius e-mail address to congratulate him for his latest release on DVD of ‘The Wind and The Lion’. I am one of the fanatics whom has been watching this movie since 1975 and it is still my favored movie of all times… Many thanks, Maria Grazia