Family Time and Movies in a Time of Upheaval

By Emma Montroy

Originally, this article was supposed to be about my Marvel movie marathon this past quarantine. However, I had a separate movie marathon going on at the same time that I realized might be more profound to write about. My dad (who went to Fordham as well) decided to show me some of his favorite movies over the years. After a few weeks, I noticed many of them followed similar themes and related a lot to some current events. 

We started out with “Lord of the Rings”, which was definitely the least serious of them all. I read the books a few years ago but had somehow never seen the movies. Most people are pretty familiar with this trilogy, and it was a fun one to start out with. A few days later, we had a double header with “Splatoon” and “Mississippi Burning.” Needless to say, it was a pretty intense night. Both set in the 1960’s, “Splatoon” focuses on the Vietnam War, while “Mississippi Burning” highlights the horrors faced by African Americans during the civil rights movement. An important theme I noticed in both was the good and evil that can exist even within our own country. In “Splatoon”, all the main characters are Americans fighting the Vietnamese soldiers. However, the Vietnamese soldiers are not really represented enough to be the “bad guys.” Instead, there are some American soldiers who do horrific things to both Vietnamese citizens and fellow Americans. Other U.S. soldiers try to stop them and are portrayed as the “good guys” within the film. In “Mississippi Burning”, a group of racist Americans begin the story by murdering civil rights workers in Mississippi. Then a group of FBI agents come down and try to bring justice not only to the victims’ families but to the Black families facing severe oppression and violence as well. I personally loved the films, and Willem Dafoe starred in both which was an added bonus. “Mississippi Burning” got me very interested in the civil rights movement, so that was the theme of our next movie. Coincidentally, the Black Lives Matter movement had picked up major momentum around this same time. So our next movie was “Selma.” This was a popular movie a few years ago, but I had never seen it. It was incredibly inspirational, especially after the death of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans. Following a similar theme, we next watched “Just Mercy.” This one hit pretty close to home for my dad, as he is a public defense attorney. All his clients are on death row, and most are poor people of color, just like in the movie. I always knew his work was incredibly important, so this only reinforced it. It also made me realize how even though “Just Mercy” is set about 30 years after “Mississippi Burning” and “Selma,” African Americans were facing (and still are) so many of the same issues even after all that time. I would really recommend it to anyone looking to understand racial issues within the criminal justice system. I also became kind of interested in war and its consequences after watching “Splatoon,” so my dad showed me “Saving Private Ryan.” I’m not a big fan of warfare, so this movie made me a little uncomfortable. We also watched “Braveheart,” but that was more for fun. Over the next months, we watched “The 3rd Man,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Back to Future,” “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Caddyshack,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and others that I can’t recall because my memory kind of sucks. It was a great way to learn some movie history while also spending time with my dad, who hopefully will be pleased with this article as an alum of the paper.

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