MANHATTAN, New York (August 2, 2008) virtuality: movies
We Americans swim in a river of political conflict and dialectical exchange to such a degree that we forget democracy is the fragile element of our realm and we are but various schools of fish (i.e., Swimming in Tao). When the process gets blocked or bottled up, the flow stops and the fluid element becomes brackish very quickly. Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff and uber-shadow Dick Cheney come into view as surreal denizens in a cloudy murky cesspool of ill content. My realization was - given the richness of the environment - how few really good political movies involving campaigns and elections have ever been made.
1. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Directed-produced by John Frankenheimer
A political party is extorted to place the brainwashed Congressman and presumed war hero Raymond Shaw on its ticket as vice president. (See Veepstakes Vetting Zoo.) His mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw (played by Angela Lansbury), has a zombie assassin (Frank Sinatra !) preparing to shoot the Presdential nominee. She will weild the power of the United States through her "subliminally conditioned" son. The 1962 version (remade in 2004) was sensationally pre-cognitive and theatrical release was withdrawn after the Kennedy assassination.
2. Z (1969 - French) Directed by Costas-Gavras
Military junta assassinates Socialist peace candidate in Greece. His Deputy (Yves Montand) and the Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) investigate. Well worth the post-viewing depression. Disclaimer: "Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE." A key historical note in that the Magistrate becomes President years later.
3. Bob Roberts (1992) Directed, written (script & songs) and starring Tim Robbins. The fantastic songs were co-written with older brother Dave Robbins.
This mockumentary of Pennsylvania Senatorial campaign reveals the "rebel christian" folk singer Bob roberts to be corrupt, crooked and connected to the C.I.A. Bob sings and sells patriotic ultra-conservatism; he lives and lies to the contrary. Gore Vidal acts as the liberal incumbent opponent in his finest role. Movie is based on a SNL 1986 skit - best of its kind.
4. The Candidate (1972) Directed by Michael Ritchie
Robert Redford as "Bill McKay - the Better Way" represents the liberal idealist lawyer who becomes an "outsider" Senatorial candidate. He is also a dynastic scion who is persuaded into the race by his father, a former governor. This leads to important character transitions as the battle toughens up. (Dare I say "dark horse"?)
5. Citizen Kane (1941) Directed, Produced, Co-Written (with Herman Mankiewicz) & Starring Orson Welles!!! Mercury Theater Players featured including fabulous Joseph Cotton.
Sexual scandal with a "singer" brings down an all-powerful condidate for New York Governor. Circumstance and extortion thwart Kane's presidential ambitions. (See recent Gov. Spitzer Goes Down and "Tutela Valu" Ashley Dupre.) The karmic turnaround is a major turning point in the greatest film ever made. The Bernard Herrmann soundtrack for Kane (married to the niece of the President) changes its tune.
In summary, a museum compendium of clips from our selection (i.e., the linkage set among these political movies) would include: Corruption, hypocrisy, amoral expedience, media manipulation, dirty dealing, connivance, brainwashing, scandal, betrayal, dark humor, deadly deceit, assassination and karmic retribution. Cautionary note: No republic in the history of manind has lasted more than 300 years (OK, maybe Iceland - thank you, Bjork). Countdown is 96 days and re-count, so enjoy the election! ///