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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Death of a President

Directed by Gabriel Range: Rating 7/10

Hype & controversy but in the end, a timid and dry result! Here was a golden chance to make a sharp and witty documentary which held up a mirror to today’s society and projected a darker future, in the process making Orwell look like a true prophet. But in the end, we are left with a tame murder mystery, a sort of investigation into a fictional crime. Was that the intent? I have not read any interviews with the director so I can’t guess on his real intent in making this film. I can infer he wanted people to question some of the un-democratic policies that exist in the U.S Administration and how the government has used fear to push forward its own agenda and stripped citizens of basic freedom. Yes, this aspect of abusing power comes through in the movie but in a quiet muted way, almost as an afterthought. That being said, the first hour of the movie is indeed riveting as it shows the moments leading up to the president’s assassination. But from then on, the movie goes into a man hunt to find the sniper. I had seen a gripping American documentary The Trails of Darryl Hunt which covered the same man-hunt topic – a crime is committed, an innocent man is framed and sentenced despite lack of evidence because the authorities needed to catch someone but eventually the truth is revealed and justice is served, albeit more than two decades later. If the two films were compared head to head then Death of a President falls well short of The Trails of Darryl Hunt . Hence my disappointment with the last 30 minutes of the film!

Considering how much trouble Range must have faced in getting this movie made, one wishes he had made a powerful insightful movie. There are some plus points though -- the movie correctly assesses the North Korean threat and shows how Dick Cheney attempts to link the president’s assassination to Syria despite no evidence being present. This is clearly based on a true incident as the administration tried to link Iraq after a certain horrific terrorist attack 5 years ago. So it is not a stretch to think if another attack happened in the future, the administration would attempt similar tactics and go after an innocent state. If the real intent in making this film was to show how the US administration is capable of making an isolated incident appear to be a terrorist plot, then more energy should have been spent on this aspect. Overall, I think it was worth seeing this film but it is very disappointing to see so much potential thrown away.

1 comment:

Scrubs & Shines said...

I was very impressed with this production "Death of a President", the best movie for me thus far this year. I went to watch it twice. I was impressed by the story told in this film. It reminded me of another favorite movie and best picture "Crash". Reality check: of course I would not want George W. Bush Harmed. Impeached yes, and perhaps one day answer for his crimes against humanity. (I won't hold my breath though) I'm very disappointed with all the negative press and general anger towards this film. People Its Fiction, Its Art, What disappoints me is when Art is censored it shows us that society is failing. When art dies, Society dies too as art mirrors society and shows us the future we are moving towards... Five Stars, A Must see for everyone!