Textual Analysis of the Red Dawn Movie


The Red Dawn is a war movie released in 1984. It is directed by John Milius and co-written by Kevin Reynolds and Milius. The movie stars Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen. According to the plot, America is invaded by the North Korea in the near future. The Red Dawn of 1984 should not be confused with its remake of 2012, which starred, among others, Chris Hemsworth, who by the time of filming of the original was still a kid.  The movie is an exciting portrayal of a cold war era that features a man played by Patrick Swayze who acts like a Colorado kid and rallies against the militia soon after the Red Menace, during which the Soviet Union invades America (Pols, p1).

The introduction tries to show the way United States step by step become isolated when many European nations withdraw membership in NATO, while The Warsaw Pact countries and Soviet Union expands their influence. One September morning, in a town called Calumet in Colorado, a high-school teacher pauses in the middle of a sentence he says when he notices Russian paratroopers landing on a field nearby. When the teacher confronts the paratroopers, they start a heavy gun fire and the students start fleeing. In Calumet, Soviet and Cuban troops try to put an order after occupation. Later on a Cuban colonel instructs KGB to visit a store selling sporting goods and get records of gun sales on the Form 4473, which has the names of people who had bought the firearms.

The story talks about a group of high-school students calling themselves the Wolverines, who refuse to obey the occupants. The paper will follow the plot of the original movie and the remake. I also intend to look at the main theme of the movie.

The Red Dawn

The main challenge in remaking the Red Dawn is the fact that the original one was the best motion pictures of its time. In the year 1984, there was a lot of tension which was as a result of the Cold War. The Red Dawn exploited the fears and the national xenophobia hat ensued. In 2012, despite the fact that there was fear of another attack by the extremists of Middle East, people were not afraid of an invasion (Mullen, p1). The plausibility was so high in the air that the invading army was changed in post-production to from China North Korea. The culture of fear came to an end but the air bombings on the neighborhoods and soldiers parachuting in towns arestill terrifying. The remake has done a good job by creating tension and chaos, unlike the terror that was in the earlier version.

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There is not much impact in the film when the invading force changed from China to the North Korea. The changes are unnoticed and the one playing the invasion team head is Yun Lee, a Korean by origin (Mullen, 2012).The fear which was there of the North Korea reduced following the Kim Jong 11’s death in December.

The theme of the movie

The theme of the movie is a decision that must be made by every team member regarding the actual fight. The members have to decide whether to be involved in the fighting for their families, home and country (Adelman, p1). The sub-theme of the movie is about reconciliation of Jed with his brother Matt, who is younger than him. They came to resolve their disputes as a result of pressure brought about by the resistance to enemy.

Above all this is the tyranny resistance. Most of the sequences in action are a lift from the previous original film. For example, the scene showing the ambush, where Toni, a member of the team, tricks a number of soldiers to chase her in a cornet of a certain building. The other team members meet them and gun them down, ransack their bodies to get weapons as well as ammunition so as to increase their fire power. This is because they desperately required to be an irritating flea at the back of the troops in North Korea. There is a lot of reference as to why the kind of resistance is necessary from the members at the very cost of lives. Jed explains that

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“When you’re fighting in your own backyard, when you’re fighting for your family, it all           hurts a little and makes a little more sense. That’s our biggest advantage. For them, this is        just a place. For us, this is our home.” (Adelman, p1).

The resistance of the Wolverines motivates the people in town to join in. As they go on with their journey, they display feats of clarity and incongruity. For example, the minute Jed notices a television reporter with his written version of the occurrences, he is able to recognize it as it is a blatant propaganda because the invaders take over the news channels and the media is not to be trusted.

The attack that by the parachutists is an astonishing and exciting moment. The information that reached the viewers is that the attack is carried out by the troops from North Korea. They cannot believe this is happening, as they know North Korea as a poor country which is very desperate and is not able to feed its people or even keep the lights on during the night. They wondered how the country could manage to mount such an attack on the West Coast.  They have many questions in mind and wonder where they could have got the planes which are carrying the warriors. This unrealistic feeling, however, fades when the movie goes on to develop the main theme of resistance by the American patriots to the communist aggression.

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The North Korea’s incongruity of subjugating and invading the United States was initially not in the movie script. Initially, the forces that were to invade were from China. However, the Chinese media raised a stink saying that the political correctness had taken over. The Chinese troops were changed and replaced with the North Korean in the script.

There are certain scenes that the viewers of the original movie could identify, such as the shortwave broadcast which was brought by the “Radio Free America”, the attack by the guerrillas on a POW camp to free the townspeople who were held there (Adelman, p1).  The French resistance brought about reminiscences of World War II, during the time when a group of ragtag civilians planned to delay, impede and even disrupt the German troops in France. The troops coordinated, planned and executed the sabotage acts on the grid of power, communication networks and transportation facilities.

Mainstream reviewers almost panned the movie, commenting that the remake of the Red Dawn does not show the original’s topicality but does pay tribute to it by delivering similar character development which is short shrift, as well as the general logic.


The movie has raised a number of questions, for example, the likelihood of an American external invasion in such a time as this when there are chaotic and tumultuous events. Would the Americans be prepared if such an event occured? It is clear that even the film characters were not prepared and the attack was a surprise to them. It took them a lot of time to identify the threat so as to decide on the reaction to it.

The movie is fascinating as we see average high school students fighting just like freedom fighters would fight for their country. What is even more interesting is that they used terrorist tactics in their operations, which made the movie even more captivating to watch.

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