In this short film from 1951, a young American airman goes to a small town while on furlough. He goes to sleep in a freedom-loving American town but, when he wakes up, things have changed. The people are no longer friendly. The streets are patrolled by sinister soldiers. A man gives a speech in the town square, announcing that no one is allowed to defy the state. When a woman tries to speak up, she’s grabbed by soldiers. When the airman tries to defend her, he’s grabbed as well. A judge listens as the airman defends America and the first amendment. The judge says that the airman would make a good propagandist. The airman would rather be executed.
Well, here’s what the newspaper says:
That’s right! The communists have taken control and apparently, it only took them a few hours to do it. The airman somehow slept through the whole thing. It really does make me wonder whether he’s someone who I really want in an important position when it comes to defending this country. Sleeping through a communist coup takes a lot of effort.
Fear not, though. There’s a twist ending. I won’t spoil it, other than to say that it makes about as much sense as a member of the Air Force sleeping through a communist coup. You can watch it for yourself:
On the one hand, this film is pure propaganda. On the other hand, authoritarianism has become very popular lately and not just among communists. This short film may be heavy-handed but it probably seems a bit less heavy-handed today than it did just a few years ago. In the film, the enemy is communism. In real life, the enemy is anyone who would say that freedom of speech and thought should be curtailed. It’s true that they always have what sounds like a good reason for sacrificing freedom, whether it be to protect the workers or to protect the children or to make the world a safer place. But, in the end, the main goal is to make sure that only one voice can be heard.
Watch this short film on a double bill with the original Red Dawn. What a great way to celebrate May Day.
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