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Movies for your major: political science

American politics are complicated. The government is filled with interesting characters that make for great entertainment on screen. When you need to stop reading about legislation, put on a movie instead. You’ll be surprised what you can learn by watching a political film. This article will give you the five best movies to watch as a political science major.

When you need to stop reading about legislation, put on a movie instead. Graphic courtesy of Haley Jordan/Connect.

When you need to stop reading about legislation, put on a movie instead. Graphic courtesy of Haley Jordan/Connect.

1. Election, 1999

“Some people say I’m an overachiever, but I think they’re just jealous.”

Before she was Elle Woods, Reese Witherspoon played Tracy Flick in one of the best political movies of all time. Tracy Flick is a high school student who is willing to do whatever it takes to win the role of class president. Jim McAllister, her teacher is willing to do whatever it takes to take her down. This movie is incredibly witty and entertaining. Even though it’s based in a high school, it highlights political themes that exist in real life government settings.


2) Dr. Strangelove, 1964

“Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”

Dr. Strangelove is a satirical movie about nuclear war. It shows how dangerous it is to put nuclear weapons in the hands of foolish people. It depicts a fictional war between the United States and the U.S.S.R. The movie will make you think more deeply about the motivations behind huge world wars. It will also leave you consistently laughing at the absurdity of it all.


3) Milk, 2008

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”

Milk is a dramatization of the events that led to Harvey Milk’s assassination. Harvey Milk was an openly gay human rights activist who fought for the LGBT community. He was the first openly gay person elected to public office as a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. The movie shows the difference a person can make if they’re committed to making meaningful change. Harvey Milk held firmly to his decision to support the LGBT community despite the threats of violence.


4) The Post, 2017

“If the government wins, The Washington Post will cease to exist.”

Meryl Streep is a widely loved actress for the versatility of roles she can play. The woman she played in The Post, however, wasn’t always loved or respected. Streep plays Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of any major American newspaper. The movie highlights the importance of a free press, as Katherine Graham and her team at The Post uncover secrets that reveal the extent of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

The film is a commentary on American foreign policy – just how involved should we get in other country’s affairs? Streep is in charge of secrets that could shatter the lens through which the American people look at their president. What will she do with the information? Watch the movie to find out.


5) Chappaquiddick, 2017

“Moses never left a girl at the bottom of the Red Sea.”

Chappaquiddick tells the story of one of the most powerful families in American history – the Kennedy’s. Ted Kennedy was basically handed a political career on a silver platter. However, his frequent drinking and partying eventually lead him to trouble.

One night he drives his car off a bridge with one of his campaign staff inside.  Mary Jo Kopechne, the campaign staffer, drowns. Ted Kennedy doesn’t tell anyone about the accident until the following morning when it would be far too late to save her. The movie gives a behind the scenes look at how powerful families are able to brush unsightly things under the rug.

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