Bush era had its movies

We're nearing the end of the Bush era in movies.

In movies? Yes, that's right.


Just as presidential administrations set the tone in such areas as education, energy and international diplomacy, they also seem to have a mysterious relationship with the national movie mood.

The original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), for example, was a telling emblem of the paranoid Eisenhower period, while the free-spirited "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) seemed to reflect the optimism of the Kennedy years. And who can deny that Sylvester Stallone's jingoistic "Rambo" films and retro "Rocky" pictures are symbols of the Reagan era?


The Bush era may not be as clearly defined as those others, but its influence has surely been felt at the movies.

Film critic Pauline Kael was the first to point out that Kevin Costner's "Field of Dreams" (1989) was the "opening salute of the Bush era." For its fuzzy-headed endorsement of traditional values, she dubbed the film a "kinder, gentler crock."

"Driving Miss Daisy," which won that year's Oscar for best picture, is very Bush-era in that it condemns bigotry while not necessarily recommending that anything be done about it. So is 1990's "Dances With Wolves" (another Oscar winner) for similar reasons -- plus its lip service to environmental issues.

The case of the new "A River Runs Through It" is also worth noting. Its nostalgic tone and emphasis on family tell us something about its underlying spirit as does its rather exclusive attitude about fly-fishing.

This is odd, even ironic, because Robert Redford, the movie's director, is certainly no friend of Mr. Bush's. But films and politics seldom combine in the ways you would expect.