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After Richard Nixon steps down as US president, David Frost – UK boulevard journalist of varying success – sees his chance to get a coup by convincing Nixon to a series of interview “to set things straight”. Between financial woes about the costly production, immense research requirement, and the growing feeling that Nixon is not the kind of opponent one should pick in a one-on-one interview situation, the deadline of the show is approaching.
Firstly, the movie leaves you a bit alone with history. It is clearly made for an American audience that has detailed knowledge about the happenings around the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s involvement in the Vietnam war, the public opinion at the time, the hearings, impeachment procedures and the Nixon tapes. To be honest, if a European movie would expect as much from a US audience (e.g. on the Second World War or Nazi Germany), this would be answered with utter lack of comprehension. The indication of historical events edited over the opening credits is but a small effort to bring people on track. I had the impression the film starts with the expectation that the audience knows quite a bit about the facts, and has a clear opinion formed against Nixon (whom many still see as evil impersonated). Interestingly, when you watch the film without this starting attitude, there is little not to like about Nixon. From a clean sheet, he easily wins your sympathy by way of charm, rhetoric and argument. Especially with a smug and slightly slimy boulevard entertainer like Frost, sympathies must be clearly allocated. One of the two takes history and man’s role in it seriously and tries to shape it, the other seeks to find some way to earn some million dollars by exposing the fallacies of another man. That Nixon is frequently depicted as monetary greedy seemed like an effort to create at least something set in the presence to justify letting him go down.

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2 Comments

  1. I really felt the same about this movie. After watching the beginning (on DVD) we stopped it to google all the facts, which wouldn't have been possible at the cinema…I didn't find the Nixon in this film particularly sympathetic though, it seemed like both of them were just out to make more and more money…

  2. maybe that's what true blended av content will mean in the future: watch a movie in the cinema while the background research gets pushed on your mobile phone…


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