The Watchlist: Movies about sovereignty and freedom

The English  Let's start with the emotional darling of the lot. The English (Hugo Blick) is a limited series set in the late 1800s. In it, a wealthy English woman, Lady Cornelia Locke played by Emily Blunt, is seeking revenge for her dead son. After a rude introduction to America, Lady Cornelia conscripts an unwilling companion: a recently discharged Pawnee scout - a group of Native American soldiers from the Pawnee tribe who fought with the American army against other Native-American tribes - named Eli Whipp (Cheske Spencer). The mission is simple: travel across treacherous terrain in search of revenge.  As our duo encounters challenge after challenge - including an eyelid-less bandit - their attachment grows into a beautiful unconventional love. Sandwiched into the layers of the main plot are the character’s background stories. Because of their hauntingly tragic pasts, our heroes have nobody to live for until they find each other. From astrology and Native-American mythology, there is a lot of emphasis on fate and destiny. I love this series. It's a throwback to western movies, not just because of its wild American setting, but also because of its dialogue and the breathtaking composition. Arnau Valls Colomer's cinematography is grand with ultra wide shots juxtaposed against close-ups of some of the best acting on any screen. The visual language, which is rich in texture and colour works in tandem with the script to transport the audience into the world of 'The English'. The music score is a mix of  modern instruments and old movie sounds. Think 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' theme song mixed in with the score from a Christopher Nolan movie: It rhymes with the filmmaking and is a reminder that this isn't your typical western story. The damsel in distress trope is blown out of the water in an amazing sequence right in the middle of the series – you can’t miss it. The series serves as a meta-narrative to highlight the abuse endured by Native-American tribes, the injustice in the erasure of that abuse, and the deliberate degradation and minimisation of Native-American culture and dignity in film. These six meaty and satisfying episodes will leave you thinking, and if you are like me, crying after the final credits are over. Watch it on Showmax.   Star Wars Movies and Andor I first watched Star Wars when I was in my early teens. My foray began with the episode 1 to 3 chunk, from the early 2000s: the lesser episodes.  The grandness and the sci-fi of it all ticked all the right boxes. Fast forward a few years to my bored twilight teen years. I was on a long holiday, and I had no prospects for fun. There was nothing to watch on TV, what's changed? Anyway, I had a bootleg DVD with a million and one movies, without any warning along came Episode 4: A New Hope which was the first Star Wars movie released; Episodes 5 and 6 quickly followed. To say my mind was blown would be playing down the dopamine hit that was my nerd trip into the 1970s. In the original Star Wars trilogy, we follow our reluctant hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil) as he is thrust into the rebellion against the evil Empire. He discovers, adventure the meaning of family and the importance of choice. He becomes the Jedi he was destined to be, and we witness one of the biggest fetes in filmmaking history. After nerding out to the first trio of movies, I settled into back-burner fandom. The franchise was revived, and the story moved on with sequel after sequel. I, however, felt that the story was complete and didn't watch the new releases. And then one day, not unlike my bored discovery of the first movies, I decided to watch Rogue One. I wasn't disappointed. Rogue One is the story that immediately precedes first Star Wars movie. The story is simple, compact and complete: If you haven't watched Star Wars you can jump into this movie, enjoy it and exit the entire Star Wars affair. Andor So, when I heard that Disney was making a prequel series on Rogue One's lead character Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), I was thrilled. Andor is to Cassian Andor what the original Star Wars trilogy was to Luke Skywalker: his hero's journey. We watch Cassian grow from a local thief in a forgettable place to an important  participant in the resistance to the Empire. Beyond that, this movie is about the sacrifices people make when fighting for freedom from totalitarianism. "I burn my decency for someone else's future" Luther Rael's monologue, delivered by Stellan Skarsgård, is a wonderful example of the themes that make this show work. Find Andor, and Rouge One, and, hey, while you’re at it watch the first 6 episodes of Star Wars.  
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