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By Anna-Marie Brittain

Movies often influence political views

Movies are not solely for entertainment, but can serve as an outreach platform for getting amazing stories out to the masses. Movies can educate, inform and bring attention to issues that many people may not be aware of.

Two flms that sway political opinion

The 1997 Italian film "Life Is Beautiful" is a tragicomedy/drama that is centered around the story of a Jewish Italian man, Guido Orefice. It shares a brighter side of life by revealing the love story between him and the female lead, Dora. They marry and have a son named Giosue, whom the father must protect from the antisemitic, fascist Nazi regime and the threat of concentration camps. Although this film frames the family story in a comical way, it also reveals the political undertone of the horror that unfolded in World War II.

The 2004 Kurdish-war drama "Turtles Can Fly" follows the lives of orphaned refugee children who were born in a hostile country and dragged into a horrific war. It is set near the Iraqi-Turkish border, on the night that U.S. soldiers were to invade Iraq. It is a powerfully revealing look at the lives of four refugee children, whose eyes carry the demons of their upbringing and the suffering of their homelessness. This movie shared with the audience a peek into how many children, then and now, struggle to survive, avoid soldiers, avoid minefields and try to make a life for themselves.

Relevance today

"Life Is Beautiful" and "Turtles Can Fly" are influential films that give the audience a look into how politics and war, hatred and ignorance can affect people on a daily basis. These movies are still politically relevant today, with refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa seeking help and survival in other countries. As reported by UNICEF USA, up to 80 percent of the children in Syria have been harmed and continue to suffer from the war.

In response to the children suffering in Syria and the Middle East, survivors of the Holocaust and World War II have been writing personal letters to them, in the hopes of informing them that they are not alone.

A film that fuels political views

The 2000 biographical film "Erin Brockovich" is based on the real-life story of its namesake. It tells her story in 1993, as a single mom who attempts to expose and fight the financially powerful and influential Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The movie does an excellent job of portraying the struggles she had to get through in order to fight for the health, safety, and rights of the people of Hinkley, California. Unbeknownst to those residents, PG&E took no precautions for public and environmental safety and failed to inform the people that the water supply was essentially getting poisoned by toxic waste.

Relevance today

With the movie "Erin Brockovich," you can actually draw some parallels with the situation in Flint, Michigan. According to, the city faces a water crisis due to the grotesque decision of its officials to save money by switching the city's water source to the highly corrosive and polluted Flint River. As reported by, it left local residents to deal with the long-term suffering and consequences. Not only do residents still suffer from the lasting medical effects of the current system, but they were being forced to pay some of the highest water bills in the country for it until recently.

Further films for thought

The aforementioned films were made many years ago, yet still carry some parallels in today's politics and events. If you have yet to view "Life Is Beautiful," "Turtles Can Fly" and "Erin Brockovich," then you should. Films like these can help to broaden one's perspective of life outside your own environment and help to fuel ideas needed to seriously enact change.

Here are a few other films that expand public awareness of important issues and start much-needed conversations: "John Q," "Sicko," "The Business of Being Born," "Philadelphia," "North," "Network," "All the King's Men," "12 Years a Slave," 'The Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home," "Shelter," 'Racing Extinction," "The Wisdom to Survive," "Monsoon," 'Seeds of Time," "Silkwood," "China Syndrome" and "Rabbit Proof Fence."

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