Revolutionary Films

by adambrichmond | created - 23 Dec 2011 | updated - 23 Dec 2011 | Public

This is the beginning of list of films that either deal with an explicitly revolutionary situation, such as Land and Freedom, or about revolutionaries (Das Edukators), or about a revolutionary perspective on social conditions, such as Harlan County. I've been meaning to compile this list for over ten years. Some important films are not listed on IMBD from the 1960s. The History Book, a Danish production, is one I can't find here (nor have I seen it since about 1972). At some point I will probably move some of these into another list about social conditions in the U.S., many of with are not explicitly revolutionary. The order at present does not mean anything. However, I will want to draw the viewers attention to the underrated Burn! which I have put at number one.

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1. Burn! (1969)

GP | 112 min | Action, Drama

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
72 Metascore

The professional mercenary Sir William Walker instigates a slave revolt on the Caribbean island of Queimada in order to help improve the British sugar trade. Years later he is sent again to... See full summary »

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | Stars: Marlon Brando, Evaristo Márquez, Renato Salvatori, Dana Ghia

Votes: 3,657

2. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Not Rated | 121 min | Drama, War

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
95 Metascore

In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.

Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | Stars: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Tommaso Neri

Votes: 43,118 | Gross: $0.06M

3. Land and Freedom (1995)

Not Rated | 109 min | Drama, War

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

David is an unemployed communist that comes to Spain in 1937 during the civil war to enroll the republicans and defend the democracy against the fascists. He makes friends between the soldiers.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Ian Hart, Rosana Pastor, Icíar Bollaín, Tom Gilroy

Votes: 8,655 | Gross: $0.23M

4. Reds (1981)

PG | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
76 Metascore

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Director: Warren Beatty | Stars: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski

Votes: 17,896 | Gross: $40.38M

5. Soy Cuba (1964)

108 min | Drama, Music, War

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Four vignettes about the lives of the Cuban people set during the pre-revolutionary era.

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov | Stars: Sergio Corrieri, Salvador Wood, José Gallardo, Raúl García

Votes: 6,612 | Gross: $0.16M

6. The Edukators (2004)

R | 127 min | Drama, Romance

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
68 Metascore

Three activists cobble together a kidnapping plot after they encounter a businessman in his home.

Director: Hans Weingartner | Stars: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaußner

Votes: 28,477 | Gross: $0.18M

7. The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

R | 150 min | Action, Biography, Crime

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
76 Metascore

A look at Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s.

Director: Uli Edel | Stars: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek, Bruno Ganz

Votes: 31,995 | Gross: $0.48M

8. Missing (1982)

PG | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
78 Metascore

When an idealistic American writer disappears during the Chilean coup d'état in September 1973, his wife and father try to find him.

Director: Costa-Gavras | Stars: Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron, John Shea

Votes: 15,375 | Gross: $14.00M

9. Amen. (2002)

Unrated | 132 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
57 Metascore

During WWII SS officer Kurt Gerstein tries to inform Pope Pius XII about Jews being sent to extermination camps. Young Jesuit priest Riccardo Fontana helps him in the difficult mission to inform the world.

Director: Costa-Gavras | Stars: Ulrich Tukur, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Mühe, Michel Duchaussoy

Votes: 11,967 | Gross: $0.27M

10. Little Black Book (2004)

PG-13 | 111 min | Comedy, Romance, Drama

5.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
36 Metascore

A woman snoops through her boyfriend's palm pilot and reveals his former girlfriends, which causes her to question why they're still listed in his little black book.

Director: Nick Hurran | Stars: Brittany Murphy, Ron Livingston, Holly Hunter, Kathy Bates

Votes: 15,968 | Gross: $20.42M

11. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Not Rated | 68 min | Documentary, Music

8.4
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A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Director: Dziga Vertov | Star: Mikhail Kaufman

Votes: 17,807

12. Stachka (1925)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A group of oppressed factory workers go on strike in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein | Stars: Grigoriy Aleksandrov, Maksim Shtraukh, Mikhail Gomorov, I. Ivanov

Votes: 5,623

13. Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Not Rated | 66 min | Drama, History

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein | Stars: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

Votes: 44,541 | Gross: $0.05M

14. Tri pesni o Lenine (1934)

Not Rated | 61 min | Documentary

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Three anonymous songs about Lenin provide the basis for this documentary that celebrates the achievements of the Soviet Union and Lenin's role in creating them.

Director: Dziga Vertov | Stars: Dolores Ibárruri, Nadezhda Krupskaya, V.I. Lenin, Joseph Stalin

Votes: 528

15. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

PG | 103 min | Documentary

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
80 Metascore

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

Director: Barbara Kopple | Stars: Norman Yarborough, Houston Elmore, Phil Sparks, John Corcoran

Votes: 3,919

16. 1900 (1976)

Unrated | 317 min | Crime, Drama, History

7.7
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The epic tale of a class struggle in twentieth century Italy, as seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Stars: Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda, Francesca Bertini

Votes: 18,872

17. The Best of Youth (2003)

R | 366 min | Drama, Romance

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
89 Metascore

An Italian epic that follows the lives of two brothers, from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana | Stars: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Jasmine Trinca, Sonia Bergamasco

Votes: 17,884 | Gross: $0.25M

18. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

Not Rated | 127 min | Drama, War

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
82 Metascore

Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald

Votes: 39,996 | Gross: $1.83M

19. Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

122 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

7.0
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After years of political agitation, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and Leo Jogiches form a revolutionary German party, the Spartacists.

Director: Margarethe von Trotta | Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Daniel Olbrychski, Otto Sander, Adelheid Arndt

Votes: 918

20. The Ugly American (1963)

120 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

6.8
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An ambitious scholar becomes the ambassador of Sarkan, a southeast Asian country where civil war is brewing.

Director: George Englund | Stars: Marlon Brando, Eiji Okada, Sandra Church, Pat Hingle

Votes: 1,503

21. In the Year of the Pig (1968)

Not Rated | 103 min | Documentary, War

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Produced at the height of the Vietnam War, Emile de Antonio's Oscar-nominated 1968 documentary chronicles the war's historical roots. With palpable outrage, De Antonio (Point of Order, ... See full summary »

Director: Emile de Antonio | Stars: Harry S. Ashmore, Daniel Berrigan, Joseph Buttinger, William R. Corson

Votes: 1,286

22. Sir! No Sir! (2005)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
74 Metascore

This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion. It speaks ... See full summary »

Director: David Zeiger | Stars: Michael Alaimo, Edward Asner, Joe Bangert, Tom Bernard

Votes: 606 | Gross: $0.11M

23. Salt of the Earth (1954)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, History

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Mexican workers at a Zinc mine call a general strike. It is only through the solidarity of the workers, and importantly the indomitable resolve of their wives, mothers and daughters, that they eventually triumph.

Director: Herbert J. Biberman | Stars: Juan Chacón, Rosaura Revueltas, Will Geer, David Wolfe

Votes: 2,422

24. Come and See (1985)

Not Rated | 142 min | Drama, War

8.2
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After finding an old rifle, a young boy joins the Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces and experiences the horrors of World War II.

Director: Elem Klimov | Stars: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, Vladas Bagdonas

Votes: 33,551

25. La dialectique peut-elle casser des briques? (1973)

90 min | Comedy

7.0
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Add a Plot

Director: René Viénet | Stars: Chan Hung Liu, Ingrid Wu, Jason Pai Piao, Raoul Curet

Votes: 178

26. Strawberry and Chocolate (1993)

R | 108 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.5
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This Oscar nominated film is the story of two men who are opposites, one gay, the other straight, one a fierce communist, the other a fierce individualist, one suspicious, the other accepting, and how they come to love each other.

Directors: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Juan Carlos Tabío | Stars: Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra, Francisco Gattorno

Votes: 4,643 | Gross: $2.08M

27. Imagining Argentina (2003)

R | 107 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
27 Metascore

Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson star in this gripping political thriller about a man with the power to see the fate of missing people - with the exception of his own beloved wife.

Director: Christopher Hampton | Stars: Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Rubén Blades, Irene Escolar

Votes: 2,981

28. Joyeux Noel (2005)

PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, History, Music

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
70 Metascore

In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other's way of life.

Director: Christian Carion | Stars: Diane Kruger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Natalie Dessay

Votes: 24,092 | Gross: $1.05M

29. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

R | 126 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
75 Metascore

The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life's calling.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán

Votes: 88,209 | Gross: $16.76M

30. The Pianist (2002)

R | 150 min | Biography, Drama, Music

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
85 Metascore

A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox

Votes: 572,363 | Gross: $32.57M

31. Matewan (1987)

PG-13 | 135 min | Drama, History

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

Director: John Sayles | Stars: Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham

Votes: 6,253 | Gross: $1.68M

32. The Dreamers (2003)

NC-17 | 115 min | Drama, Romance

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
62 Metascore

A young American studying in Paris in 1968 strikes up a friendship with a French brother and sister. Set against the background of the '68 Paris student riots.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Stars: Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green, Anna Chancellor

Votes: 91,735 | Gross: $2.53M

33. Mexico: The Frozen Revolution (1973)

65 min | Documentary

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A thorough analysis of the social- politics of Mexico, within the historical context of the Mexican Revolution reality. Includes footage of the 1910s, interviews with farmers, politicians, intellectuals, middle class, trade and unionists.

Director: Raymundo Gleyzer

Votes: 35

34. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

Unrated | 74 min | Documentary

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
81 Metascore

In April 2002, an Irish film crew is making a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, when a coup from the opposition is made.

Directors: Kim Bartley, Donnacha O'Briain | Stars: Hugo Chávez, Pedro Carmona, Jesse Helms, Colin Powell

Votes: 2,198

35. Cuba (1979)

R | 122 min | Adventure, Romance, Thriller

5.7
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A British mercenary arrives in pre-Revolution Cuba to help train the corrupt General Batista's army against Castro's guerrillas while he also romances a former lover now married to an unscrupulous plantation owner.

Director: Richard Lester | Stars: Sean Connery, Brooke Adams, Jack Weston, Hector Elizondo

Votes: 2,036 | Gross: $0.53M

36. Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

R | 121 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
68 Metascore

In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.

Director: Wolfgang Becker | Stars: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas

Votes: 122,898 | Gross: $4.06M

37. V for Vendetta (2005)

R | 132 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
62 Metascore

In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of "V", plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.

Director: James McTeigue | Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves, Stephen Rea

Votes: 883,361 | Gross: $70.51M

38. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, Biography, History

8.4
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A documentary of the successful career and assassination of San Francisco's first elected gay councilor.

Director: Rob Epstein | Stars: Harvey Fierstein, Harvey Milk, Anne Kronenberg, Tory Hartmann

Votes: 4,885 | Gross: $0.01M

39. Los últimos zapatistas, héroes olvidados (2002)

70 min | Documentary

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In the year 2000 the Mexican film director, Francesco Taboada Tabone, began his search for the last of the soldiers to have fought beside General Emiliano Zapata in the 1910 Revolution.

Director: Francesco Taboada Tabone | Stars: Marcelino Anrubio, Audiaz Anzures, Manuel Corona, Matías Cruz Corridista

Votes: 59

40. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama, History

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
95 Metascore

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin

Votes: 71,112

41. Dongfang hong (1965)

117 min | Musical

7.4
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The evolution of the People's Republic of China is told in this spectacular song and dance production, 'Dongfang hong' or 'The East is Red'. Vast, solemn, and glorifying the progress ... See full summary »

Director: Ping Wang

Votes: 74

42. Lumumba (2000)

Not Rated | 115 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
78 Metascore

The true story of the rise to power and brutal assassination of the formerly vilified and later redeemed leader of the independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba. Using newly discovered historical ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Peck | Stars: Eriq Ebouaney, Alex Descas, Théophile Sowié, Maka Kotto

Votes: 1,562 | Gross: $0.68M

43. Sicko (2007)

PG-13 | 123 min | Documentary, Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
74 Metascore

A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories including shotgun deaths.

Director: Michael Moore | Stars: Michael Moore, Tucker Albrizzi, Tony Benn, George W. Bush

Votes: 69,714 | Gross: $24.54M

44. The Commissar (1967)

110 min | Drama, War

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Klavdia Vavilova, a Red Army cavalry commissar, is waylaid by an unexpected pregnancy. She stays with a Jewish family to give birth and is softened somewhat by the experience of family life.

Director: Aleksandr Askoldov | Stars: Nonna Mordyukova, Rolan Bykov, Raisa Nedashkovskaya, Lyudmila Volynskaya

Votes: 1,091 | Gross: $0.39M

45. North Country (2005)

R | 126 min | Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
68 Metascore

A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.

Director: Niki Caro | Stars: Charlize Theron, Jeremy Renner, Frances McDormand, Thomas Curtis

Votes: 35,082 | Gross: $18.32M