Haunted by Ghosts

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Nixon, The Election Years PosterNIXON: THE ELECTION YEAR EDITION is the recently released video of the 1995 acclaimed film biography by Oliver Stone of the first President to resign from office, and it should serve as a warning to all Presidents current and future.

In the words of the accompanying press release, this film “is a spellbinding examination of the man who became known as America’s ‘imperial president.’ Nixon’s ruthless ambition puts him at the pinnacle of American politics, until he begins a disastrous attempt to wrest control of the nation away from the Congress and the courts. As a small group of political zealots seek to concentrate the power and prestige of the United States in the hands of one man, his personal demons drive him to undermine his legacy with political ‘dirty tricks’ and a conspiracy to cover them up.”

In that case, this film should also serve as a warning to all American citizens, current and future, because a case can be made that what Nixon did with his presidency is happening again. Just substitute the words “incurious indifference” for “ruthless ambition.”

Anthony Hopkins plays Nixon and leads a stellar cast including Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Paymer, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Sorvino, Mary Steenburgen, and James Woods as the major players in the downfall of the President, with Larry Hagman, Madeline Kahn, and Michael Chiklis showing up as minor players, among many others.

The story begins in 1972 with the infamous Watergate break-in and then moves into Nixon’s past to show what demons drove this complicated man. After Nixon loses the presidential election in 1960 to John Kennedy, he says to his wife, Pat, “I can take the insults, I can take the name-calling, but I can’t take the losing.”

The film also goes back into Nixon’s childhood and shows how certain events could have shaped his future and might have turned into obsessions.

It can be heavy-handed in some of its implications, but the parallels with today’s Bush Administration are striking and staggering.

As always, Stone uses innovative editing and filmmaking techniques, and this DVD edition is an extended director’s cut with 28 additional minutes and five bonus features.

NIXON: THE ELECTION YEAR EDITION shows him haunted by ghosts, some real and some imagined, and we owe it to ourselves to see it again.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”