Using the tools you have learned in the class, select a film that depicts an “evil foreigner” and discuss how the medium of cinema is used to essentialize enemy others. While there are many choices, a few of the “classics” include: True Lies, Air Force On

“Only very rarely are foreigners or first-generation immigrants allowed to be nice people in American films. Those with an accent are bad guys.” ~ Max…

“Only very rarely are foreigners or first-generation immigrants allowed to be nice people in American films. Those with an accent are bad guys.” ~ Max von Sydow
The film Taken released in 2008 revolves around the human trafficking of women by Albanian clans in Europe, when the young daughter of a former American CIA agent is taken while on vacation. This film definitely depicts an evil foreigner and the way the film is told and portrayed plays a huge part in depicting the enemy. The film is extremely raw and shows how this trafficking group instills fear into young travelers, proving further that you should not trust strangers especially in a place that is foreign to you. However, it also causes a certain stereotype about foreigners due to the way they are generalized in the film. The way foreigners are portrayed in the film shows that they cannot be trusted, and Americans are the heroes. In Taken, initially the two young girls encounter a seemingly harmless man offering to ride in their cab with them, eventually to find out where they live when he invites them to a party offering to pick them up. It does not take long for a group of Albanian men to break in and kidnap them, forcing them into human trafficking. The American father played by Liam Neeson is quick to travel to Europe doing everything he can to find and take out the enemy, but during the film the Albanian traffickers resort to horrific acts to achieve their goal. Cinema in general has always been supportive of military movies or movies with military motives, and it has even been documented that the ability to see the enemy and kill them has developed in parallel with the ability to take moving pictures (Dittmer, 2019). Films profit a great amount from movies that portray a dangerous foreign enemy with a protagonist doing everything in their power to stop them and succeed. Many enemies in the Eastern countries in Europe are portrayed in films as raving, maniacal terrorists, devoid of human decency and morality (Eisele, 2002), that will go to any lengths for profit. In the film, they discuss that the Albanians in the trafficking industry profit more from young American travelers also stating that they are more nave. Since it is an American made film and  Liam Neesons character is a CIA agent, this means he was portrayed as the smart and powerful character, because the desire of the U.S. security establishment to maintain an image of strength for the United States provides the basis for a symbiotic relationship between the major Hollywood film studios and the government agencies responsible for providing security to the nation (American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2017). American film companies want to keep their strong and confident image of American agencies intact, so they will portray the foreign enemy as the loser in the end.
Dittmer, Jason. Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity (Human Geography in the Twenty-First Century: Issues and Applications) . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Editors Introduction: Reeled into Complacency: How the CIA and the Pentagon Use Hollywood to Shape Our Ideas About Friends and Enemies. The American journal of economics and sociology 76, no. 2 (March 2017): 233279.
Eisele, John C. The Wild East: Deconstructing the Language of Genre in the Hollywood Eastern Cinema Journal. Vol. 41 Issue 4. (Summer 2002) 68-94.
The film that I am going to discuss is Air Force One, this movie was created in 1997 and takes place in the President’s airplane also referred to as Air Force One. The movie begins with the capture of a dictator in a post soviet union country in eastern Europe, the President of the United States flies out to Russia to hold a press conference in Russia announcing the arrest and stating that the United States will no longer negotiate with terrorists. Once the press conference is over and the President and family is back on the plane they take off for home without the knowing that Russian extremists were on the plane planning to overrun and take the President hostage to negotiate the release of the dictator. Eventually the President is able to kill or arrest all the extremists and keep the dictator in prison. This is an example of an “evil foreigner” because it portrays the Russian intruders as the enemy and as evil for wanting to kidnap or kill our President. This movie also came out in 1997 which was right after the Cold War so it fits the narrative for that time when people in the Untied States were scared of a Russian attack or nuclear attack from Eastern Europe following the Dismantling of the U.S.S.R. and the creation of all the small post Cold War countries. This film was created with these characters and the terrorists being from Russia on purpose because it could strike close to home for so many people and turn a fictional film into something a little more real to their every day lives. This goes along with the re-occurring them of abduction and reduction “Abduction and reduction are two of the most persistent attributes in Eastern genre, and they seem to be an evocation of a longstanding cultural trope that stands in for the attitude of the West toward the East” (Eisle) this example fits the movie Air Force One perfectly because the goal of this film is for the Eastern extremists to capture the Western leader and hold him hostage or abduct him so that they can get what they want. The movie Air Force One produced in 1997 is a great example of how the Eastern world is represented and how they are created as “evil foreigners” the Russian extremists that try to capture the President represents the end of a time period where Russia was trying to take over the world so for them to take over the President of the United States would make them the enemy.


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