Magazine article Variety

Our Nixon

Magazine article Variety

Our Nixon

Article excerpt

FILM R0ÏTERDAM

Our Nixon

Documentary

Why are there so few (locus about Richard Nixon? An academic industry has grown up around his tenure, yet the president whose legacy permanently scarred the psyche of a nation has largely been ignored by nonfiction filmmakers. Fortunately, Penny Lane's "Our Nixon" makes amends: A brisk, eye-opening documentary about the Nixon White House as seen from the inside, this triumph of editing is composed of homemovies shot by the president's staff, accompanied by later TV interviews and priceless audio from the secret tapes, making it a must-see for anyone interested in Americana. DocuIriendly rep houses should be lining up.

The absence of cinematic Nixoniana is even mon· striking considering Watergate just passed its 10-year anniversary. Lane's locus isn't on the break-in and its ramifications, but on the entire presidency and the way Tricky Dick seeded mi atmosphere of blind loyalty and paranoia whose outcome, almost inevitably, led to the collapse of America's belief in the integrity of its chief executive. "Our Nixon" captures not only what went on in the White House on the most personal level, but how the spirit, of a nation was refracted through 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and it does so through the fortuitous discovery of more than 500 reels of footage shot by the president's closest aides.

H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapín are names forever tarnished, like Nixon's, by Watergate, yet before the scandal, they were respected career men standing at the president's side. Ehrlichman was the senior aide, Haldeman the diehard partisan and Chapin, at 27, the whiz-kid. They were also homemovie buffs, filming hours and hours of Super 8, turning their cameras on everything from visiting dignitaries to the groundbreaking presidential trip to China, from Trida Nixon's wedding to relaxed social occasions in the White House gardens. Lane and chief editor Francisco Bello cherry-pick from this extraordinary archive in a bid to get at the very nature of these loyalists whose illegal activities in the name of their boss led to their imprisonment.

"Our Nixon" limits its focus to the years of the presidency, from 1969-74, in a trajectory that starts with fresh-faced optimism and ends with delusion and defensiveness. The positive achievements during the president's tenure aren't ignored, such as the Apollo 1 1 moon landing and the China visit, yet Lane is more interested in individuals than in great events, and she uses the players' self-made images and their own words not to demonize them, but to understand them as products of their era. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.