gordon-brown-and-obama

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently visited the United States, where he spent some quality time with President Barack Obama. As is usual in such visits, the two of them exchanged gifts. Brown’s gift to Obama? A pen holder made from wood from the anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. The gift was both classy and priceless, showing an understanding of the significance of Obama’s ascendence to the presidency. Obama’s gift to Brown? A set of 25 DVDs.

Understandably, the disparity in the value of their gifts has been given a great deal of criticism from press on both sides of the Atlantic. For one take on this, fast forward to 2:12 in the following clip from The Daily Show:

However, rather than pontificate on the appropriateness of giving Prime Minister Brown a gift you could buy your local Best Buy, I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at what DVDs Obama gave him exactly. According to The Daily Mail, the American Film Institute helped to put together the set by “special request,” which included the following DVDs:

  • Citizen Kane
  • The Godfather
  • Casablanca
  • Raging Bull
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Schindler’s List
  • Vertigo
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • City Lights
  • The Searchers
  • Star Wars: Episode IV
  • Psycho
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • The Graduate
  • The General
  • On the Waterfront
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Chinatown
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Astute AFI followers will recognize that the list is a dead ringer for the top 25 of AFI’s 2007 List of Top 100 Movies, which leads me to question exactly how much work the AFI really put into this box set. This also explains why two of Barack Obama’s five favorite movies, according to his Facebook page (via The Guardian), aren’t included: The Godfather Part II and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Speculation has been rampant and playful as to why Obama gave him these particular DVDs. Some think that the inclusion of On the Waterfront indicates Brown “could have been a contender” had political circumstances been different, while others think that Raging Bull is a commentary on Brown’s temper. I’d like to think that these DVDs are in some way a commentary on American values and the American condition, past, present, and future.

All that being said, I thought I’d put the question to you, /Film readers:  Assuming that this DVD set is in some way meant to represent America, what DVDs (above) are you happy were included? Which ones are you upset were excluded? And if you had to put together a set of DVDs in a similar situation, what DVDs would be in it?

[Thanks to /Film reader Brendan for some help with this article]

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