Red Dawn is a 1984 American war film directed by John Milius and co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. The film is set in an alternate 1980s in which the United States is invaded by the Soviet Union and its Latin America allies. However, the onset of World War III is merely in the background and not fully elaborated. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist the occupation with guerrilla warfare, calling themselves Wolverines, after their high school mascot.
The film begins with an introductory text about how the USA gradually became (in a fictional scenario) politically isolated when NATO members withdrew their membership, leaving America politically and militarily outweighed by the Warsaw Pact, who are aggressively expanding their sphere of influence. In addition the Ukrainian wheat harvest fails and a communist coup occurs in Mexico.
On a September morning in the small town of Calumet, Colorado, a local high school teacher pauses mid sentence when he sees paratrooper landing in a field outside the school. These troops, who are Russian Airborne Troops, promptly open fire on the teacher when he goes out to confront them. Pandemonium follows as students flee amid gunfire from the troops. In downtown Calumet, Cuban and Soviet troops are trying to impose order after a hasty occupation of the town. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Bella (a Cuban officer) instructs the KGB to go to the local sporting goods store and obtain the ATF Form 4473 forms, which name citizens who own firearms.
Jed Eckert, his brother Matt, and their friends Robert, Danny, Daryl, and Aardvark flee into the wilderness after hastily equipping themselves at Robert's father's sporting goods store. After several weeks in the forest, they return to town and Jed and Matt learn that their father has now been captured and is being held in a Soviet reeducation camp. They visit the site and speak to him through the fence; Mr. Eckert orders his two sons to abandon him there, but to "avenge" him. They then visit the Masons and learn that they are behind enemy lines in "Occupied America" and that Robert's father has been executed because the guns from his store - the ones he gave to the boys - were found to be missing by the occupation authorities. The couple also charge the boys with taking care of their two granddaughters, Toni and Erica. After killing some Soviet soldiers taking a trip into the woods, the youths begin an armed resistance against the occupation forces—calling themselves "Wolverines" after their high school mascot. Initially the occupation forces try reprisal tactics, executing groups of civilians following every Wolverine attack, in hopes of intimidating the local population and compelling the Wolverines to surrender or desist from further attacks. It is during one of these executions that the father of the Eckert brothers is killed. Daryl's father, Calumet's mayor, a collaborator, tries to appease the occupation authorities. In a side plot, Colonel Bella becomes severely disillusioned by the cruelty of war, but feels helpless to do anything against it.
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