Why do you like this movie?
It captures the heart and fear of the Cold War in the 1980s in the US and is an adventure where kids become warriors to defend their country.
Isn’t the concept preposterous?
Yes, an invasion of the US at that time or now is preposterous, but in the distant future it will be a reality simply based on historical patterns of rise, maturation, decline and finally conquest of empires. Even the Romans fell after 1500+ years of rule. I would say the US is currently at its apex of power, so definitely no threat of conquest in our lifetime or even our grand children’s lifetime.
Rome: 200-300 AD
Were there any historical truth in the movie?
That’s an interesting question. At first, when I saw it as a teen I just glossed it over as a big movie take on the 80s Cold War between USSR and the US. Recently, I have discovered references like the Chechen wars that are referred to symbolically in the movie.
From the movie, Wolverines are the local High School team mascot. I believe the director chose this as a reference to the Chechens, who were fighting for independence for over 200 years from Russian and later Soviet rule. Additionally, the Chechens retreat after battle to the mountains and then later raid the plains villages and towns held by Russian rule. In the movie the children, regularly return to raid their own town in defiance of the foreign Russian rulers sent to bring them “freedom” and reeducate them.
Are there more modern takes on the Chechen war for independence?
Unfortunately, when Putin came to power he decided to consolidate his power by crushing recent Chechen rebellion, which helped him “win” elections, but later led to mass Chechen terrorism against the Russian population in Russia proper. In 1999, the Chechens bombed an apartment building killing 300 civilians.
In the US, we recently had the Boston Bombing coming from a Chechen youth visiting his homeland and getting radicalized hatred from the repressive treatment of his people in Chechnya. He came back to Boston and injured 264 runners and wathers and killed 3 by bombing the Boston Marathon.
Why are the Chechens so vicious in their attacks?
Primarily, it is the treatment they received at the end of long Russian rule. The worst case was when Stalin decided to have the 700,000 Chechens deported after rising up when the Nazis were close to taking the region. Besides deportation, the Stalin government waged war with the remaining warriors killing about 170,000+ people or close to 1 in 5 of the whole population. So there is a long history of bitterness and rebellion in the Chechen population that will take decades to settle.
So are you painting on the movie itself?
Stay tuned. I will have a work dedicated to the Chechens and Red Dawn out soon.
New York Times
Pop Culture meets history
IMDB: The Day After
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