Red Dawn: Revisiting the Original

Posted: November 22, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama
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Ahh, 1984.  That was an awesome year!  President Ronald Reagan won re-election in a landslide.  Apple introduced the Macintosh computer.  The Cosby Show and Miami Vice first aired on TV.  Stonewashed jeans were introduced (had a pair myself).  The Soviets boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics (Mary Lou Retton thanks you).  I graduated from high school and headed off to college.  And, Red Dawn was a hit at the box office, thanks to the Cold War and Patrick Swayze.

Yes, I was one of those teens who saw the original movie in the theater.  But never in a million years did I  think they would attempt a remake (we could say that about a lot of movies, couldn’t we?).  I mean, the whole premise is just too outrageous: Soviet and Nicaraguan forces taking over a small town in Colorado?  How in the world did they get that far inland?  I can understand the Ruskies taking over Alaska or Florida, but Colorado?  This was pure dystopic fantasy.

But let’s remember the context of Red Dawn.  The United States was still fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union.  Most Americans (especially teenagers) believed that the Russinas could and would launch a nuclear attack on us at some point.  So the idea of a Communist invasion was not outlandish at all to us at all.  And, why wouldn’t they take over small town, USA?  What an easy, unsuspecting target!  Of course, it helped that Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen were budding young stars at the time.

So, what are we to make of the original Red Dawn?  Movies like this–even if fairly unbelievable–should make us appreciate our freedom, that’s for sure.  It would be a mind-blowing nightmare if a hostile nation would actually occupy American soil.  We should continue to thank our soveriegn God that we have enjoyed so many centuries of freedom here in the USA.

But more importantly, Red Dawn presents us with a vivid picture of the spiritual war that has been fought since the beginning.  The devil and his demons infiltrated God’s world, attempting to occupy as much “land” as possible.  Just like the Soviets and the Nicaraguans in the movie, the forces of darkness have destroyed the lives of many people over the years.  Many have also allowed Satan and his minions to take up residence in their homes, schools, and communities.  Day by day, year by year, the prince of darkness does battle against the Kingdom of Light.  The world of Red Dawn is just a glimpse of what is really going on in this world.  There are enemy forces all around us, whether we acknowledge them our not.  We just have to open our spiritual eyes!

In Red Dawn, the resistance made up of just a bunch of teenagers call themselves The Wolverines (after their school mascot).  This rag-tag group spends the entire movie either struggling to survive or striking back against the bad guys.  In reality, Christians are the true resistance force for the ages.  Throughout history, it has been rag-tag remnants of Christians who have gone to war against Satanic forces, people, and ideas.  Often times, it has looked bleak, just like in Red Dawn.  But at other times, Christians (by the power of the Spirit) have beaten back the armies of darkness.  We must remember that ALL who take the name of Christ have enlisted in His army and are in the midst of this ongoing, epic battle.

While Jed and the other Wolverines are quite courageous and gain many victories, they lack the one thing that we have: A Conquering King.  It is only because King Jesus died, rose again, and reigns for all time are we able to defeat the Kingdom of darkness.  Christians are not acting alone in this spiritual battle–we have the King of kings and Lord of lords as our Commander-in-Chief.  So we know how this war ends, don’t we?

We’ll look at one more important theme in Red Dawn tomorrow.


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