Top 5 Documentaries Which Awaken Our Political Consciousness


Movies have always been shining light on important issues. In today's generation, young people especially tune into the top documentaries and films to gather vivid details and be better informed about the pressing problems our nation faces. Political documentaries have addressed many concerns that were overlooked and sometimes ignored by the general media. This article takes a look at the top five documentaries which have awakened the “political consciousness” of our generation.

As the old cliché goes history always repeats itself. But can that cycle be avoided? In the documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara an effort is made to highlight and discuss what went right and wrong during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in order to better help future policymakers. The film features an interview of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who has learned a great deal from experience. In his interview, he provides a lesson for future leaders. Sometimes it is important that we look to the past to see what went right and what went wrong.

Issues such as healthcare and gun control have risen to the top of our national agenda in the last decade, but who’s to thank for that? One man who has a knack for challenging controversial issues is Michael Moore. In the last decade he has brought to light how our democracy needs fixing. Sicko and Bowling for Columbine present facts, statistics, and humor regarding two issues that we often forget about until election time. Sicko did a good job of showing how America needs a functioning healthcare system. Columbine explores the firearm industry and America's developing culture around the use of guns. Whether one agrees with Moore’s opinions or not – these movies have caused an uproar and have forced many individuals to take a side on important national issues.

Since 2000, the price of oil has shot up and continues to increase. Summer is right around the corner and many are reconsidering taking long, expensive road trips. For a time there was great buzz around the idea of an electric car – but what happened to this idea? An eye-opening documentary was Who Killed the Electric Car? This film sets out to explore why about 5,000 electric cars never made it to the showrooms of General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, and others. The movie takes place in Southern California when a bill was approved in 1990 to produce Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) to address the issue of urban air pollution. Soon after the bill had been mandated it was reversed because of pressure from the oil industry, automobile manufacturers, and the government.   

In terms of helping the rest of the world, how much of an obligation does the U.S. have to engage in humanitarian efforts? Many celebrities in the last 10 years have become humanitarian rights activists and have sparked movements to pay attention to the needs of developing countries. Similarly, Hollywood has produced many heart-wrenching documentaries that force us to think about the world beyond our borders. One piece that brings light to the genocide and the dire situation in Sudan's Darfur region is The Devil Came on Horseback. This film follows testimony and photography of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle regarding the genocide in Darfur. The movie promotes awareness and hopefully inspires individuals to gain insight about the political situation in a country far outside of the United States.

Movies have become the new literature. More than ever, everyone is turning to movies and documentaries to get the opinion of the outsider. Most of the films mentioned above present a unique angle on issues that we often forget to talk about. Whether an individual agrees with a movie’s perspective or not – it forces a person to take a side and really think about where they stand.

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