From ‘300’ to ‘Bella’ to ‘Sound of Freedom’: Why Conservative-Themed Films Are So Important

By Mark Judge Published on July 7, 2023

Sound of Freedom, the terrific new movie starring Jim Caviezel, is doing great business at the box office. The film, about the evils of child trafficking, made $14 million on its opening weekend, beating Indiana Jones on fewer screens. Word of mouth about the film is great. Hollywood considers itself very “woke” about social issues, but the most evil and insidious issue of all, the abuse of children, doesn’t seem to get the industry’s attention. To say the least.

It’s worth taking a moment to thank Caviezel and crew for their film, and the other conservative Christian filmmakers who are changing the culture. Last year I was lucky enough to break bread with Stream contributor Jason Jones, the wonderful human rights activist, film director and producer. Jones produced Bella, a great pro-life film, as well as The Stoning of Soraya M, and other films.

Conservatives complain about leftist Hollywood, but there have been several very powerful conservative films made in the last few years. Like Sound of Freedom and Bella, these are movies that appeal to a mainstream audience and are produced with the highest creative and artistic standards. Jim Caviezel is obviously a devout and inspiring Christian leader. Yet going back to one of my favorite movies of all time, The Thin Red Line, he has proven himself an A-list actor with mesmerizing screen presence. Christians are not shouldering any cross buying a ticket to his films.

A Cult that Tried to Spark a Race War

The most conservative film I’ve seen in the last few years is Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, the 2019 movie by Quentin Tarantino. It takes place in 1969, a year that many feel signaled the release of a lot of demonic forces in America, such as drugs, promiscuity, and the occult. The movie centers on an actor named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double and friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick’s career is declining, as an old-school 1950s star, and the outsold world of hippies and cults is starting to encroach on him.

“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is rated R, but it is because of battle scenes, not sexual content. These scenes depict heroes clashing with demonic forces, whether an invading army or members of Charles Manson’s Satanic cult. As Clint Eastwood dramatized in Dirty Harry, sometimes violence is used to reveal the nature of evil and the kind of forces necessary to repel it.

The year 1969 gave us the Charles Manson murders, which form the climax of the film. Recall what Manson said right before he murdered actress Sharon Tate and her unborn baby: “I’m the devil and I’m here to do the devil’s work.” In this film, a main theme is how friendship and decency can disrupt demonic evil.

Fighting Against Globalist Tyrants

Then there is 300. I’ve written about this amazing film before, but in recent times its message has attained incredible relevance. 300 tells the story of a small group of soldiers who defy an invading army. The invaders represent tyranny and the belief that politicians and the state are gods who should be worshiped. The vastly outnumbered soldiers who resist are doubted by their own citizens and politicians, who prove both corrupt and cowardly.

300 is a dramatization of the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place during the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. Some 300 Spartan soldiers, led by King Leonidas, bottled up the 10,000-strong Persian army, led by Xerxes, for three days in a narrow coastal pass called the Hot Gates. The film’s visual style remains striking, its dialogue sharp, and its story rousing. It is still hated by liberals.

It also offers an almost exact parallel to modern American politics and culture.

The Elites Who Would Play God with Us

It has become clear that the left understands no limits. It demands total submission in education, politics, the courts and culture. Like Xerxes, our elites want the state and the causes it fetishizes to be venerated as gods. (The neoconservative thinker Norman Podhoretz once observed that gay poet Allen Ginsberg did not want gay sex tolerated, but “beatified.”)

Like the dithering, old and affectless senate in 300, most of our politicians were not prepared for the assault that was coming. Ten years ago no one, not even a pro-immigration, Paul-Ryan-admiring, don’t-care-about-gay-marriage conservative like myself, could have foreseen drag queens grooming children, the sexual mutilation of young people, and assassination attempts on Supreme Court justices. Yet here we are.

Is Trump Our King Leonidas?

When Xerxes appeared on his way to sack the city, no one in Sparta, with the exception of King Leonidas and his 300 soldiers, took the threat seriously. The indolent Spartan politicians are like modern day Conservatism, Inc. I mean that group of establishment Republicans who’ve waxed fat and lazy in their well-funded sinecures, so they shrink from battle.

The #NeverTrump political right has legitimate criticisms about the president’s character, his petty insults, his carelessness with the office and classified documents. But it also lacks the will to fight. When the true nature of liberalism’s violent, coercive and criminal behavior and its totalitarian impulses was revealed, official conservatism could not rouse itself. People forget, but some 2016 prognosticators were predicting that the Republican party might disappear altogether. “You will be erased from the histories,” Xerxes tells Leonidas in 300. “No one will ever know you existed at all.”

The Fangless, Managed “Opposition”

There is a battleground in our time which represents the incredible resistance of the 300 at the Hot Gates. It is the U.S. Supreme Court, which has shocked the Left this year by handing down rulings that adhere to the Constitution and resist the coercive state. (In 300 Xerxes looks like a transgender Pride parade grand marshal). This is possible because conservatives held strong and fought for the courts, particularly during the 2018 clash during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. That battle opened the eyes of many people to just how violent, crazy, hegemonic and totalitarian the Left has become.

I was in that conflict, and describe it in my book The Devil’s Triangle. In the Kavanaugh battle I was defended by high school friends, models I had photographed, bartenders and regular folks from middle America, who left messages for me while the Left were trying to crush us. Even Jake Tapper on CNN came to my defense: “Why are they so interested in Mark Judge? He’s not running for anything.” #NeverTrump National Review has not reviewed The Devil’s Triangle, something unimaginable when it was run by William F. Buckley, Jr. But then, Buckley was a journalist, not a “fellow.”

“Remember us.” These are the last words of King Leonidas in 300. They are a message to the people back in Sparta: Don’t let our deaths be in vain, but instead a spur to action. With the Supreme Court, Sound of Freedom, and a critical mass of Americans announcing that they have had enough of of the left, the tide may be turning. As Leonidas says in 300’s best line: ”The world will know that free men stood against a tyrant, that few stood against many, and before this battle was over, even a god-king can bleed.”


Mark Judge is a writer and filmmaker in Washington, D.C. His new book is The Devil’s Triangle: Mark Judge vs the New American Stasi.

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