Drug War Movies: How Hollywood Treats America's Complicated Relationship With Drugs

08/28/2012 09:31 am ET
  • Kia Makarechi Senior Editor for Mobile and Innovations, The Huffington Post

Hollywood is known for being a liberal town, where conservatives like Jon Voight and Chuck Norris seem outnumbered by a cadre of Clooneys and Weinsteins. So when it comes to issues like the Drug War, it would logically follow that the thrust of movies touching on America's relationship with cocaine, marijuana and any other number of illegal substances would denounce the government's war on drug users and vilify the DEA.

But it's not that simple. Because Hollywood, liberal is it may be, is a town built on business, where movies cost and make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Audience-chasing is the name of the game.

As a result, the themes Drug War movies focus on tend to vary. There are two main categories in which these films fall: message movies and action flicks. In the former category are gut-wrenching foreign films like "Maria Full of Grace" ("María llena Eres de Gracia") and character studies like "Half Nelson." On the other end are full-throttled movies like "Blow" and violent romps like "Scarface."

There are, of course, other sub-genres, namely films which either touch on urban themes ("Notorious," "Hustle & Flow") or center wholly on self-destruction and addict-porn ("Requiem for a Dream"). Some comedies could even be seen as commentaries, if only accidentally. In "Tropic Thunder," a group of actors playing soldiers find themselves at war with a heroin kingpin.

HuffPost Entertainment has gathered some of Hollywood's most popular Drug War films in the gallery below. With each image comes a brief dissection of the movie's treatment of the ever-controversial topic. See what filmmakers like Oliver Stone have to say on the topic, and what pictures like "Scarface" reveal about the America's view of drug commerce.

Hollywood & The Drug War

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