Movies/TV have in many ways become the ‘total art’ that Wagner aspired to. The latest Star Wars, Avatar or Avengers movie is the final product of a veritable nation of entrepreneurs, capitalists, visionaries, writers, actors, costume designers, musicians, technicians, grip men, caterers, stunt men, props workers…. it’s really quite incredible when you think about it. And starts anew with the next project.
Sadly though, the overall religion that drives these productions (other than just making money) is of course, progressive universalism served with an echo catalyst, to say the least. That said, human nature being what it is, we see still see some virtuous themes emerge, sometimes explicitly in the movie as a whole, and sometimes a sub-theme in an otherwise pozzed film.
If I were writing this in a better age I’d likely A- be writing this on paper instead of typing on a computer, and B- discussing ‘books for young boys’ as one used to. And heck, I’ll likely do that still in the near future (the discussion, not the paper bit. The modern world doth hath its technological advantages despite social decay). But for today, I wanted to have a look at movies portraying manly virtues, brotherhood, sacrifice, courage etc. to inspire young men (and men of all ages really).
Basically, through the mire of filth and chaos that modern day Gomorrah on the West Coast belches out almost weekly, what are some standouts one can recommend to say a younger brother or nephew or son? Recall: every boy (and man) needs heroes, real AND fictional. Any ‘taking back’ of society will require strong confident young men, and said men need role models, which is to say, stories of camaraderie, hero’s journeys, flawed men overcoming their limitations on the way to greatness, and above all: mannerbund. I fear we will be facing some dark times in the not too distant future, and tales to help inspire us are necessary.
The Enemy groks this, hence his near total control of the means of communication and creation of new stories. Nevertheless, the Light shines through the morass, and here I dare say are some I enjoyed. Mind you, some are very flawed but have great moments that warrant inclusion, and after all a discerning eye is part and parcel of living in this mad time, taking the good and resisting the bad. I’ve aimed for a mix of old and new., and included a scene or two to illustrate for most:
Zulu: British Empire at one of its finest hours. The movie was the inspiration for the Helm’s Deep battle in LotR as Peter Jackson was a fan since childhood. Surprisingly, for being over 54 years old, it still holds up. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift, the finest of British stiff upper lips, the clear contrast of civilization and barabarianism, and yet at the same time the grudging respect of soldiers on the battle field.
Knockaround Guys: Some big city younger generations mafia boys go to a small town. Altogether, a completely forgotten movie and not that good. It’s on the list here though due to the friendship between Vin and main character. Vin is basically the hardest of hard men as illustrated when he fights the local town tough man at a bar (a man incidentally who was ‘protecting’ the women of the town, i.e. the pack), illustrating that most primal of dominance hierarchies: I can put you down. It’s also instinctively understood by every man in that scene, what the stakes are, what’s going on. But where the movie really steps up is his willingness to give his life for his friend, the loyalty there. Despite being rough men, flawed men, they’re loyal, and that elevates them.
The Right Stuff: Based off the excellent Tom Wolfe book, which frankly should be mandatory reading for any male teen. It encompasses the beginning of the US space program with Project Mercury, juxtaposed against the switch from the ‘elite’ being test pilots to being astronauts. (with incumbent women problem as always). But what it’s REALLY about is men, status, and great acts. (It also has a hilarious scene with pathetic publicity seeking politician LBJ up against a man willing to defend his wife.)
Heck I’m just going to put a quote from the book here and let it stand on its own:
“In this fraternity…the world was divided into those that had it and those who did not. This quality, this it, was never named, however, nor was it talked about in any way. As to just what this ineffable quality was…well, it obviously involved bravery. But it was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life. The idea seemed to be that any fool could do that…No, the idea here (in the all enclosing fraternity) seemed to be that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment-and then to go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day, even if the series should be infinite-and, ultimately, in its best expression, do so in a cause that means something to thousands, to a people, to a nation, to humanity, to God. Nor was there a test to show whether or not a pilot had this righteous quality. There was instead, a seemingly infinite series of tests. A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even-ultimately, God willing, one day-that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men’s eyes, the very Brotherhood of the right stuff indeed.”
Casablanca: Yet another oldie but goldie that holds up well. Sure, a somewhat romantic take on the Great Conflict, but let’s not go there, and instead focus on the human element. We have cynical Rick, whose long lost love reenters his life, and then sacrifices his potential relationship with her for the Greater Good. It’s also Rick as MAN, not boy, the kind of man women respect and love. Back when males on the screen were actual authority figures and not objects of ridicule.
Karate Kid: A Classic hero’s journey. New kid in town Daniel Larusso gets into fight with local mannerbund/gang Cobra Kai and golden boy Johnny. Notice how the movie doesn’t shy away from the conflict: Daniel suffers, struggles, fights, gets the girl, earns self respect, and under tutelage of his teacher fights the bad guys ultimately earning Johnny’s respect. The movie has several classic ‘hidden teaching through grinding’ scenes which have become staples of contemporary culture, but my favorites are how Daniel takes his problems with Johnny to his mentor figure, Miyagi, who then enters the Cobra Kai Dojo and confronts their sensei man to man. There’s an important lesson here about how men deal with their issues: head on, and by the rules. Notice even Cobra Kai sensei (despite later dodgy behavior in the tournament), tells his boys to back off Daniel until said tournament. And after a severely injured Daniel is told to quit, he refuses, because that’s where self-respect comes, a necessary prerequisite before OTHERS respect you. And he earns it in the field of battle, eyeball to eyeball with a fearsome opponent who brings out the best in him. Incidentally, over thirty years later a sequel youtube series has come out, and against ALL odds it’s actually really good (and fairly red-pilled to boot) touching on themes of bullying, fatherhood, honor and being a man. Seriously, watch it, i has no right being as good as it is. #teammiguel
Lawrence of Arabia: somewhat fictionalized portrayal of British desert warrior helping Arab tribes fight against the Ottomans in WW1. Beautiful movie, a bit slowpaced perhaps for nowadays so best to reserve a rainy interruption free afternoon. But great scenes like this and this make it well worth the effort.
Rush: Another ‘should be obligatory’, and as a more recent film, easier to take down (pacing, technical production, modern feel). A movie exemplifying a rivalry amongst men, each coming from different backgrounds and world views. Bringing out the best in them, above and beyond the call of duty. The end monologue by the hyper disciplined and analytical Lauda, recalling the carefree joyous wild Hunt, is spectacular and earned.
Chariots of Fire: Another movie exemplifying the best of British Empire and height of ‘amateur sport’ in Olympics, the ideal of sport not as professional career but as an elevated calling. You have a rivalry between pious Liddell capable of borderline miracles from within, and complex outsider Abrahams. And it has one of my favorite speeches of all time, the Grandmaster Caius contemplating the losses of the First World War.
American Sniper: Clint delivers, surprisingly blunt truths about the way the world. works. Cooper plays the main character as an authentic, straightforward unapologetic alpha. Note his approach of his future wife which would make Heartiste proud.
The Grey: one of the best portrayals of someone dying on film I’ve seen. Liam Neeson’s character doesn’t pull punches or lie, just bluntly tells him in his last moments to focus on who he loves. All the material belongings, all our accomplishments, all gone. In our last moments, we won’t care about our LED tv… we’ll care about those we loved and are leaving behind. The movie borders on themes of nihilism and existentialism, but really it’s about men struggling against the wild and a vicious nature (in this case, the ruthless cold and hungry wolves) that is intent on taking them down. But they’re going to fight, and that’s what defines us.
Lawless: Set during prohibition in the moonshine business in Virginia, a movie that’s really about family, clans and local loyalties. Tom Hardy plays a fierce (and slightly comedic at times) role, a force of nature, as head of the family fighting a turf war against authorities and incoming bootleggers.
High Noon: (interestingly, in ‘real time’ i.e. a minute on screen is a minute of time) a criminal is coming back to town intent on revenger. The Marshall is encouraged to leave town with his new wife, but his old school sense of honor and duty intervene. He asks the townspeople for help but they all turn him down with varying excuses. The movie is a dire comment on what happens when men abandon their responsbility. In this case, the townspeople were lucky that Kane stuck to his principles. What happens when the Kanes of the world are not to be found? Who will restrain the Frank’s then?
Master and Commander: Classic film of reactionary men’s man Aubrey and Romantic scientist Stephen. The ‘men must be governed’ scene is amazing. The ship’s only doctor conducts self-surgery (without anaesthetic). The leader’s speech. Even young teens that our society treats as entitle teenagers, partake and battle and the consequences thereof.
Elite Squad: A Brazilian movie that doesn’t shy away from tough questions on the drug war. And by that I don’t mean usual left-wing ‘drug guys are poor people’ crap. The movie unambiguously attacks the active role the consumers play in it, and the sequel delves more heavily into the corrupt political system as a whole. The drug war is not cut and dry, and as one of Handle’s best posts puts it, until we find a way to control the high crime/violent portion of our population, it serves a role in allowing the police to do their jobs.
School Ties: A bit of stereotypical “wasps are evil, look how hard us jooz had it!” movie by the prog machine. But that aside, it’s very well done, young men, code of honor, how to act honorably. A jew from the wrong side of town joins an elite prep school, makes friends, but when they found out he’s jewish the obvious happens. (well, obvious for Hollywood movie at any rate). But how does he act? He acts like a man. And that’s what matters. At the end, during an important test, a cheater (Damon) breaks the code of honor. Of course, today’s hyper competitive ‘win at any cost’ world (as exemplified by soccer players) scoffs at this as naive. But it was at one point the bedrock of anglo-saxon/European/Christian values that allowed Mannerbunds to flourish and built the Western World. Ultimately, the decision comes down to class, the same class that had ostracized the main character. And despite their deciding to throw him to lions, he complies, and goes to headmaster to confess for a crime he did not commit. Good stuff.
Conan the Barbarian: With directed by right-wing nut John Milius (fun fact: inspiration for Walter in Big Lebowski), with screenplay co-written by Oliver Stone, based on Howard’s Hyborian stories. I mean really. From the classic Genghis quote, to Riddle of Steel, to Thulsa Doom, the Poledouris soundtrack (arguably one of the greatest of modern cinema) what a movie. Howard’s original work is a more faithful reproduction of how Europe was conquered by the Aryans (sorry, Indo-Europeans) than anything anthropology managed to come up with in last 80 years.
Dredd: Seriously, if you have a single NRX leaning bone in your body, watch this. Dystopian urban wasteland future. Concrete jungles out of control. Drugs. Violence. Crime. And those willing to fight (in explicitly fascist manner) for Order amongst the Chaos. It’s shocking this got made in today’s environment. I’d only be more shocked if they did a faithful representation of Warhammer 40k without some mixed race gender ambiguous protagonist. A man can dream.
Last of the Mohicans: During early to middle period of British Empire, fighting against French in the New World, with shades of the to come anglo-american struggle. What’s noteworthy is the men of all kinds in this movie, despite the sides they’re on, act with clear motivations. The Huron council scene, despite a bit of ‘muh environmentalism’, is really about leaders (#patriarchy), deciding what is best for their people given a problem. I’m actually sympathetic to Magua there, truth be told. And of course, Duncan is a bad ass (spoilers: he purposefully mistranslates Long Carabine’s request, so sacrifice himself instead. Stiff Upper Lip and all that). And of course, the last ten minutes with “Promontory” playing are simply sublime.
Three O’Clock High: Mostly forgotten teen movie, but basics about facing your own problems. Jerry is basically a weakling journalist in school, and accidentally insults new student and bully Buddy, leading him to be challenged to a fight. Jerry does pretty much everything to avoid the fight, from paying the jock to defend him, to trying to get Buddy expelled, to helping Buddy cheat in a test. Finally, paying off Buddy in a pivotal scene makes Jerry examine who he is (“you’re the biggest pussy I ever met in my life. You didn’t even try. How does that feel?”), and man the f up. Wish fulfillment perhaps, but a story about being brave. Even if the film ended (arguably more realistically) with Buddy getting the crap kicked out of him, he’d have his self-respect, and that’s a lot more valuable than not being punched in the face. There’s no hypothetical ‘tomorrow’ where you THEN decide to start defending yourself. You live this life once: what kind of man will you be?
Batman Begins: The first installment in Nolan’s trilogy, sets up basic cause of a man equipped with lethal skills and motivation (revenge) subsuming those for a greater social good. Civilization is nothing if not the quest to take man’s destructive impulses and channeling them towards God, family and community.
Dark Knight: It may surprise some but it’s actually been nearly a decade since this came out. The movie juxtaposes a vigilante trying his best to fight against chaos and disorder for what he considers good, and basically a walking personification of chaos and evil. In these times of sugarcoating, coming up against the inexorably fact that there IS evil in the world and that it requires hard men to stop it is a truth that must be acknowledged.
Apollo 13: A movie depicting what basically built the Western World: serious, technically proficient well trained white men working in groups for a common purpose. No sense of shame or guilt or affirmative action or any other bs: competence and working together above all, cuz theres a clock and we have serious technical obstacles in our path. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I do know if we are to recover our civilization, it will require regaining that spirit on a massive scale.
On the Waterfront: By Kazan (who famously name prog/commies when US was trying to stop them, alas too late), excellent look at corrupt mob-run unions on the docks, and one man who eventually through guilt in his actions and a talking-to from priest stands up against them. He ultimately pays a high cost but earns the respect of his peers, who stand with him. Truly an excellent film of faith and character in the face of adversity and evil. It includes one of the most famous monologues of all time, when Terry is confronted by his fallen brother Charlie, on the role of family and duty.
Predator: Come on, if this movie had any more testosterone it’d run on meat not film and would deadlift between showings. The reason it’s on this list, beyond being a damn fine action flick, is the unapologetically male 80s in your face action hero. Good stuff.
In Bruges: hilarious off-kilter comedy with razor sharp dialogue. What really elevates it is the quite serious underlying narrative, of a man who committed an unspeakable act (killed an innocent child), and what the consequences are for that internal and external. Ralph Fiennes plays one of the best ‘villains’ I’ve seen on screen.
Braveheart: self-explanatory. Yes it’s a romanticized if not Hollywoodized version of history. So what? It presents masculine heroic figures willing to lay down their lives for a cause. It doesn’t shy away from the brutality of that time either. There are sincere conversations about the nature of leadership, and Longshanks’s brutal but effective rule. And the art of power.
Dunkirk: Well done war movie with nary a woman in sight. Just the brutality of war and men doing what they must for their fellow brothers in arms and their people. (And I’m someone who thinks the Brits were on the ‘wrong’ side!)
Rocky: Underdog beaten down by life with wasted opportunities and bad choices, gets one miraculous shot at making something of himself and above all proving himself. (He also did the 4am wakeup a few decades before Jocko.)
Unforgiven: In many ways the ‘anti-western’, Clint’s big goodbye to the genre. Having played the ‘man with no name’ for countless films, here we see a broken, bitter older man who has ‘become a name’. The legend that the young believe in is contrasted with hard reality of life & death, and what it is to take a life, the burden. “It’s a hell of a thing to kill a man…. take away all he’s got… and all he’s ever gonna have.” It’s a slow burn the film, culminating in the grand finale when we finally see the ‘old’ Clint come out, the violent gunslinger.
Gran Torino: on the surface an ‘immigrant’ story but really about the ‘old’ America of long-forgotten manly virtues confronted by reality of pansy new generation. Notice how the black men in this scene respect Walter in a way they don’t the ‘wanna-be fresh’ young white boy, because they see a real man there. The importance of ‘male-only’ spaces for mannerbund bonding is made clear, the shit-talking, the verbal games. Work spaces were like this until modern feminism destroyed it. It may be alarming to us how younger generations have literally no framework of how to behave. And the rest of the world thinks the West has gone soft, and they are right for the most part, but the Roman Empire was divided and nearly destroyed for 70 years in the 3rd century crisis, and yet it resurged. I think there’s some fight in us still.
Passion of the Christ: Even for non-religious people it’s a spectacularly well done film. The scenes of Satan attempting to tempt the Christ , the representation of the Adversary as ambiguously sexual to unnerve, the indictment of the democratic masses and mob rule, the scenes depicting His mirth as Chesterton put it, the brutality of the scourging and crucifixion, the love and suffering of Mary. And of course, the glorious eucatastrophe: the Resurrection. To an atheist, a great film. To a religious person… sublime.
Goldeneye: one of the better Bond films. Men being men (and women drawn to that). Code of honor. Having a villain that was a trusted friend, the theme of betrayal. Pretty fun stuff. Even female M was great with a strong Thatcher vibe.