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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nixon (1995)

It is very rare that an American President gets impeached, and leaving aside the case of Bill Clinton (who was almost thrown out for lying about Monica Lewinsky), Richard Nixon was the US President who would most certainly have been the one who was impeached if he had not resigned. As it is, at the of his resignation, he was a most polarizing figure in the nation, one who a large section of the population hated, and whose own men had started to resign rather than follow through on his orders.
This was a movie that was hard to make. Oliver Stone had 2 other projects in mind, but they fell through, and he then decided to make a biopic about the Former President, and it gained impetus since Nixon had died in 1994. The studio was hesitant in making the movie (commercially, they were justified in the end since the movie never made its budget in its hall releases), and given that the character being portrayed was one who was almost drummed out from the Presidency, there was always going to be a set of people who would not be happy with the scenes from the movie. And so it proved, since Nixon's family heavily criticized the movie, and many critics also panned the movie (and as always, some other critics praised the movie).

Nixon Directed by Oliver Stone, 1995

The movie was nominated for 5 Oscars,
Best Actor in a Leading Role (Anthony Hopkins),
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joan Allen),
Best Music,
Original Dramatic Score and Best Writing,
Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Richard Nixon was a complex personality. He did a lot for the United States, it was in his terms that the United States finally withdrew from the mess in Vietnam (although he also tried to succeed militarily, but finally gave up that strategy as flawed), he was the proponent of the immensely strategic opening up to China, it was during his term that a lot of the civil rights desegregation was enforced and the US became a lot less racially separated, he was the President under whom all the successful lunar missions took place. And yet, he was the President who was finally done under due to the arrogance of trying to believe that he was above the law when his involvement in the efforts to break-into the Democratic 1972 convention and then to try and brazen his way out of the investigations into the same incident. He eventually quit when it was clear that he was frozen out. He did a lot more after he resigned in terms of becoming a respected elder statesman, but in the end, Richard Nixon will be remembered for Watergate, the only President of the United States who resigned. And Anthony Hopkins did a great portrayal of this role.

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