David Boaz on Liberty at the Movies

Writing for Cato, David Boaz has published a list of his favorite liberty-themed movies. He starts:

A few years back, I wrote about the libertarian themes of many of the movies nominated for Oscars. Now, for the summer, I thought I’d recommend some all-time favorite libertarian movies. I’m not going to discuss documentaries or educational films such as The Incredible Bread Machine, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, or John Stossel’s superb ABC specials. Today’s topic is libertarian movies from Hollywood — and there have been more than you might think.
Shenandoah, a 1965 film starring Jimmy Stewart, is often regarded as the best libertarian film Hollywood ever made. Stewart is a Virginia farmer who wants to stay out of the Civil War. Not our fight, he tells his sons. He refuses to let the state take his sons, or his horses, for war. Inevitably, though, his family is drawn into the war raging around them, and the movie becomes very sad. I cried when I was 11 years old, and I teared up again when I saw it recently. This is a powerful movie about independence, self-reliance, individualism, and the horrors of war.
War may be the most awful thing men do, but slavery is also a contender for that title. Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) tells a fascinating story about a ship full of Africans who turned up in New England in 1839. The question: Under American law, are they slaves? A long legal battle ensues, going up to the Supreme Court. Libertarians like to joke about lawyers. Sometimes we even quote the Shakespeare line, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” — not realizing that that line was said by a killer who understood that the law stands in the way of would-be tyrants. Amistad gives us a picture of a society governed by law; even the vile institution of slavery was subject to the rule of law. And when the former president, John Quincy Adams, makes his argument before the Supreme Court, it should inspire us all to appreciate the law that protects our freedom.

See his full article for more recommendations.