Governments lie. They cheat. They steal. Sometimes the blame comes from within: corrupt individuals who’d conned their ways into the halls of power with no moral compass beyond their own self-aggrandizement. Sometimes, the fault lies within ourselves: We’re drawn to populist politicians who tell us what we want to hear even when we very much ought to know better.
The 1970s, in particular, loom large in movies about government corruption, even in later films. It’s not that no one had ever mistrusted the government before, but it’s the era when anti-government feeling truly entered the zeitgeist. Then, as now, people couldn’t agree on much, but they could agree that political leaders weren’t to be trusted. From there, the ‘80s saw Iran-Contra, the ‘90s saw the Clinton impeachment, the ‘00s the Iraq War—and those are just the marquee scandals.
The less said about the modern era of politics, perhaps, the better. But we may find it helpful to go back a bit in time, and/or overseas, to find movies that hold up a harsh mirror to government corruption.