Editor’s Note: David Allan is the editorial director of CNN Features. Opinions expressed in this story are those of the author alone.
Harrison Ford: The Father Figure of America
In the 1986 film “The Mosquito Coast,” Harrison Ford stars as Allie Fox, a husband and father who moves his family to Central America, where he organizes and convinces the locals to do his bidding for their own benefit. Forget Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford is the real father of America.
With over 70 films and over $9 billion in earnings, Ford is a leading man among leading men. Throughout my life, I have searched for father figures, and Ford’s characters have always offered me someone to look up to. As a child raised by a single mother, I found surrogate fathers in teachers, coaches, neighbors, and movie stars. But it was Ford who accompanied me throughout my life.
This Father’s Day is the first since my real father passed away, and I am grateful that Indiana Jones, with a new movie coming out, is once again coming to the rescue to help fill the emotional void. Indy is just one of Ford’s iconic roles that have imprinted the father archetype into our cultural consciousness.
### Indiana Jones, the great father
Indy will live on as a cultural icon, especially for those of us who were kids when he took his first swing with a whip. The character’s connections to fatherhood slowly emerge throughout the films, as he cares for a young boy in his employ, reconciles with his estranged son, and rescues his goddaughter from danger.
### Fox the Fateful Father
In “The Mosquito Coast,” Ford’s character, Allie Fox, is a narcissistic but brilliant inventor who risks the lives of his family when he takes them to Central America. As a father, Fox can be cruel at times, but he is always teaching and nurturing his children’s personal growth.
### John Book, The Always-Near Dad
In “Witness,” Ford portrays a Philadelphia police detective who goes above and beyond to protect a fatherless child witness to a murder. Book risks his own life and forms a real connection with the child and his mother.
### Jack Ryan, the father hero
Ford’s portrayal of Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy adaptations showcases a character who protects his family from geopolitical threats. Ryan is smart, brave, and vulnerable, saving America and his family.
### Han Solo, the lovable rogue father
In the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Han Solo becomes a father, showing loyalty and charm. Solo’s sacrifice to make peace with his rebellious son in “The Force Awakens” is a touching farewell to one of the most popular roles in movie history.
### Henry Turner, the accidentally empathetic father
In “Regarding Henry,” Ford’s character undergoes a dramatic transformation from a cold and distant father to a loving and present one. After a brain injury, Henry focuses on being a better person and a more loving husband and father.
Throughout Ford’s career, many of his fatherly roles involve redemption and personal growth. These characters often start out caring only about themselves but eventually soften and realize what truly matters. This portrayal resonates with many in my generation, who have experienced divorce and a search for identity and independence.
Seeing this evolution of the American dad on screen reminds us of who we aspire to be and the fathers we hope to become. Harrison Ford’s portrayal of father figures has left a lasting impact on myself and Generation X.