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|Index||155 reviews in total|
Everyone accuses Oliver Stone of being a conspiracy theorist, a
historian, a muckraker, and a falsifier of history. Whether these things
true or not, he is a great director and his portrait of president Richard
Nixon is sensitive, fair, and human. Stone may be opposed to Nixon, but he
does not depict him as a monster. Stone and Hopkins give us Nixon, the man
undone by fear. He is not condemned, nor is he forgiven. In spite of some
scenes suggesting a connection with conspirators involved in the
assassination of JFK, the president is given a fair shake.
Hopkins gives a wonderful performance as Nixon. He's not a carbon copy, but he gets the voice and mannerisms down so well that it doesn't matter. At his side he has Joan Allen as Pat and Paul Sorvino as a picture perfect Henry Kissinger. The supporting cast features James Woods, Bob Hoskins, Ed Harris, and E.G. Marshall and, for their part, they shine as well. Call Stone over the top all you want, but he gets real performances.
The biopic structure of "Nixon" starts us off with his political career in the late 50s. The audience gets a taste of the man's relationship with his wife and (mostly through flashbacks) his relationship with his mother. The flashback structure and editing scheme aren't as impressive as those used by Stone in "JFK", but they serve the movie well and make the 3 hours run by smoothly. As the story rolls on you get a real sense of sympathy for Nixon. I was pretty surprised how much pathos Stone could build for a character history labels a monster. Throughout the Watergate scandal we are not outraged at Nixon, we fear for him, his paranoia is ours. Nixon is a human being just like us and we can understand his mistakes and his flaws and his fears. By the end it's hard to think of him as the monster you thought of before.
Robert Richardson's stunning photography helps to perfectly render this drama. "Nixon" is a sensational looking movie. Just like Stone did with "JFK" and "Natural Born Killers", the photography and editing work to heighten the drama and never distract from it. The approach as human rather than historical drama makes "Nixon" believable and touching. Who'd have thought I'd ever shed tears over Richard Nixon! Anthony Hopkins does the trick.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys good drama. Fans of the cast and of Oliver Stone won't be disappointed.
I'm not normally a fan of Oliver Stone (in fact, I've NEVER liked an Oliver
Stone picture before)but this one just blew me away. The reason I usually
don't like him is that, though he is a great technical director and visual
stylist, his scripts are heavy-handed and one-sided to the point of
absurdity. But not here. In fact, the script is perhaps the most impressive
element in this whole movie, not only for how ambiguous and even-handed it
is in dealing with Nixon as a character, but also for the brilliant way it
moves around in time. It starts with Nixon, feeling embattled in the White
House in 1973 as the Watergate hearings are upon him, and uses the device
him listening to his secret tapes to jump back and forth to previous eras,
flawlessly moving between past and present to give an impressionistic,
kaleidoscopic overview of the man's life, instead of following the staid
ho-hum linear approach most movie biographies take (most recent example:
"Man on the Moon", the bio on Andy Kaufman which was a snoozer in spite of
great performance by Jim Carrey mainly because of the dry boring, "This
happened. . .And then this happened" approach).
Another reason to see this film is the brilliant, absolutely overwhelming lead performance by Anthony Hopkins; his Nixon may not look or sound exactly like the 37th president (but come on, except maybe for Ed Sullivan, who does?) but he embodies his qualities - strengths as well as weaknesses - to such an enormous degree that he simply BECOMES Nixon, at least for the three hours the movie is on screen.
I have to say, though, I was not nearly as impressed as every one else (critics and general audiences alike) seems to be about Joan Allen as Pat Nixon. It's nothing against her performance, she did fine, it's just that as written, the part is rather weak. In fact, I was much more bothered about the liberties the filmmakers took in fleshing out her character than in all the political events; it's like, whenever they wanted to have someone blast Nixon or act as his conscience, they'd trot out Ol' Pat, giving her some of the most embarrasingly "speechified" moments in all of the movies - almost none of their scenes together ringed true as husband as wife; it was more like Nixon sitting across from the Filmmakers' Conscience. In fact, she's angry at him so often in the film you have to wonder, what exactly does she love about the man? The film never answers (or attempts to answer) this question.
But this one minor quibble is not enough to make me downgrade this film. It is an absolutely stunning achievement by any stretch of the imagination, and it contains some interesting thematic and technical echoes of both Citizen Kane (cavernous high ceiling scenes, a "March of Time"-type newsreel on Nixon, a dinner scene between Dick and Pat at a long, impersonal table) as well as The Godfather (the burnished, half-dark half-light cinematography, several "chamber of power" scenes in tight, dark and claustrophobic rooms)that I found, in context, to be totally appropriate. It paints both Nixon and the times he (and the country) lived through on a grand and mythic scale that was truly awesome and, once again, entirely appropriate. Yes, it's a film that is at times big, loud and bombastic (because so, after all, was Nixon himself) but, just as often quiet, contemplative and told at an achingly *human* level. The contrast between these two states is what gives the film a good deal of its overall power and, as I've said, I never would have believed that Stone would have been capable of doing the smaller, quieter scenes so well.
This is a good film to have on tape or DVD, for two reasons. It's so long, and so dense with facts, characters and events, that you're not likely to want to watch it all the way straight through (the first time I saw it was in the theater and though I was held spellbound, I began wishing for an intermission at about the two-hour mark, not so much to stretch my legs but to give my brain a chance to process all I'd seen and heard so far). Also, and more importantly, the videotape includes after the credits two scenes cut out of the final film for time purposes. In both cases, I believe, a severe mistake was made - these are both, I believe, ESSENTIAL sequences; not just nice to have as an additional bargain, but scenes which Stone should have fought tooth and nail to keep in (even cutting out some others if he had to - my vote would have been to excise a few of those Pat Nixon scenes instead). Once scene involves Nixon's visit to the CIA and another a discussion between Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover in the Oval Office. The first scene is a masterpiece of writing and acting (with Sam Waterston as CIA Director Richard Helms, otherwise in no other scene of the movie) and the other is, I think, key in understanding Nixon's motivation to begin taping his White House conversations in the first place (also - an issue which is touched on no other place in the movie). I feel that these two scenes should be edited back into their appropriate places in the movie; seeing them separated from the rest of the film is better than not seeing them at all, but they really belong as part of the entire story.
Watergate hardly gets a mention in this film. We see the 'plumbers'
donning rubber gloves, and the president fumbling with a few of his tapes,
but detail is almost totally eschewed. There is no Egil Krogh, no Jeb
Magruder. Kleindienst and Gray are mentioned only in passing. Cox is fired
by way of a spoken TV bulletin, Jaworski is not referred to at all. We do
not see anything of the titanic courtroom struggles, with all three branches
of the federal government locking horns. Though we are told that the
American Constitution is self-righting, like a boat immune from capsize, we
are not shown how or why.
And in this, Oliver Stone is perfectly right. As it stands, the film is very long, and dense with detail. There is no room for the minutiae of the cover-up, which in any event would make for a confusing narrative. Stone's subject is Nixon the man, not the edifice that toppled around him.
And what a man. Richard Milhous Nixon is a truly fascinating personality - both statesman and charlatan: ruthless and vulnerable: unable to express his emotions, yet the most emotional of politicians: a man who spent his life in the law and in high office, but who never absorbed the legal and ethical mores of public life. Genius and crook, bold visionary and spiteful backstabber, Nixon will continue to spellbind biographers for decades to come.
"That's when it starts," says Stone's Nixon, "when you're a kid." The film takes us to Whittier, California in 1925 to see the unloved boy who struggled painfully to earn his parents' approval, without ever quite succeeding. As a teenager, he levered his way into the school football squad by sheer willpower. Lacking talent, he doggedly subjected himself to repeated physical battering in the scrimmages, "a tackle dummy with guts". This syndrome recurs throughout his career. Always susceptible to scathing criticism, never quite commanding respect, Nixon never the less kept ploughing back into the melee when wiser, lesser men would have quit. It is hardly surprising that the years of punishment should have left psychological scars.
Nixon's hatred of John Kennedy had more than one source. He was devastated by the defeat in the 1960 presidential election, but not simply because of disappointment at losing, or even because the Kennedy victory carried the odour of fraud: bitterest of all for Nixon was the realisation that the Kennedy people had played hardball more effectively than the Republicans. Nixon had been out-sharked, and it hurt. On a more profound level still, John Kennedy was everything that Nixon could never be. He was a smooth, handsome prince among men, exuding poise and confidence, a patrician imbued with the habit of authority. To Nixon, the perpetual outsider, the quaker geek who looked shoddy and disreputable, Kennedy seemed to have the dice unfairly loaded in his favour. JFK was an East Coast bright boy and war hero, fabulously wealthy and impeccably well-connected. Nixon owned nothing and knew nobody, and was all too obviously 'on the make'. The great witch-hunts, of Hiss in the 1940's and Ellsberg in the 1970's, are manifestations of the chip on Nixon's shoulder, the fathomless bile that he directed at East Coast college boys.
Nixon always imagined that he was hiding his pain from the world, whereas in fact it was on global display. His nervous little laugh at moments of emotional crisis was so false, so gut-wrenchingly inappropriate, that the onlooker could catch a glimpse of the man's tortured soul. Hopkins captures the wretched laugh with devastating effectiveness, both in the scene where Nixon is confronted by a hostile man in the TV studio audience, and when he solemnly promises that none of the president's men will go to jail. In the "Checkers" broadcast and the presidential TV address on Watergate, Nixon tries to assure the camera that he is not a crook, and on both occasions he has the exact opposite effect, confirming to the viewer that that is precisely what he is. Nixon seems incapable of examining his own conscience: there is a hard core which his rational mind cannot penetrate. Maybe that is why Stone has him referring to himself in the third person throughout the film.
'They' were always out to get Nixon, without it ever being made clear just exactly who 'they' might be. The imperative for this deeply paranoid man was always to be braced, ready for the coming tackle, or to organise pre-emptive strikes against 'them'. Obstructing justice and tampering with evidence were, to Nixon, self-defensive steps that did not need to be justified. It was obvious that such things had to be done. The mystery at the heart of Watergate - why a president so steeped in criminal conspiracy should tape-record his own intimate conversations - makes sense when viewed from Nixon's end of the telescope. He had to have the goods on his own men, ready for the day when they turned on him. It goes even further. This emotional cripple could not bare his bleeding soul to anyone, so his tapes became his confessional and his confidante. Stone's film repeatedly shows Nixon in his awkward arms-extended, double V-sign pose. It is not by chance that it looks like a crucifixion.
Hopkins is remarkable as Nixon. Wisely not even trying for an exact
likeness, his interpretation of that so-familiar physicality is uncannily
evocative. From the very start, the characterisation is spot-on - the jut
of the lower jaw, the growly voice, the rounded shoulders. Once the
has adjusted to the initial shock, Hopkins IS Nixon. It ceases to be an
Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, Kennedy and (most of all) Lincoln look down from the White House walls at Nixon, their solemn portraits hovering like admonishing ghosts over the Watergate squalor. In life, Roosevelt was bold and self-assured, whereas Nixon dithers: Washington's self-effacing propriety confronts a Nixon who is suggesting that the Nazis were right. Kennedy is everything that Nixon could never be - above all else, at ease with himself. Lincoln looks down, from the office wall and from his marble seat in the Memorial, in silent rebuke as his successor debases the presidency.
Some of the camera tricks don't work. We see Nixon rooted to the spot at Love Field as the camera soars up and away from him. Why? Obtrusive camera movement is justified only if it adds to our understanding of character or plot. This shot seems to have been included merely for its cleverness. The same is true of the little flashes of black-and-white which keep interrupting the action. At one point, in a dialogue between Nixon and Haldeman, the focus is un-subtly and repeatedly thrown from one man to the other. What does this achieve? Is some artistic goal being pursued, or are the effects included for their own sake? What is the symbolic importance (if any) of the vanishing racehorses?
Much of the attention to detail is of a very high order. Stone's writing team has done its homework, and we get authentic touches such as Nixon's love of log fires, which meant having to run the White House air conditioning system at full blast during summer. The reconstructions of the White House interiors are superb. We see Nixon and Pat engaging in a domestic scrap beneath murals of more edifying battles like Yorktown and Saratoga. Historical events, recorded on news film at the time, are brilliantly reconstituted, replacing the real Nixon with the Hopkins version. Thus we get convincing reconstructions of the Kennedy TV debate and the 1962 'retirement' speech. Young Nixon's courtship of Pat is narrated without dialogue as a grainy, jumpy home movie - and is beautifully done. I did not feel quite so positive about the Alger Hiss segment. Welles did this 'newsreel flashback' idea in "Citizen Kane" more than half a century earlier, and did it with such flair that anything which follows is sure to look jaded. It also seemed to me that this passage is badly-placed, coming immediately after the 1962 California defeat.
James Wood plays Bob Haldeman, and does his usual admirable, photogenic best. My quibble with the characterisation is, this isn't THE Haldeman. The historical personage was grimmer, more stately, more formidable (Fred Emery's "Watergate" bears this out). Wood is restricted here to the role of an aide, rather than the Chief of the White House Staff, an emperor within his own (not inconsiderable) domain.
Pat Nixon does not ring true either, but for different reasons. Joan Allen is more than competent as the steely, astute power behind the Nixon throne. The fault is in the characterisation rather than the actor. The real Pat was (so far as one can judge) an altogether less articulate, less philosophical, less knowing individual. Watch her in the REAL "Checkers" broadcast - she is a stiff, repressed, passive woman, a true 1950's Republican wife, not the power broker that this film would have us believe. It is hard to accept, for example, that Nixon's decision to retire in 1962 was his wife's diktat.
There are elements of this otherwise excellent film which simply don't work. Would the President of the United States REALLY be pulled out of a face-to-face meeting with Brezhnev to deal with some Watergate minutiae? The real-life Mitchell said that he tolerated Martha's indiscretions "because I love her". This touching declaration is cheapened in the film, for no good reason. Similarly, Tricia Nixon's exchange with her father was, in real life, an assertion of unconditional loyalty which was both moving and very much to Nixon's credit. The film version has her asking sceptically, "Did you cover up?" This is quite wrong. The Nixon women would have considered it treachery even to frame such a question.
John Williams' epic score is in keeping with the classical tragedy acted out before us. Nixon's tearful prayer with Kissinger and the farewell speech to the White House staff are scenes of extraordinary power.
Paul Sorvino gives us a marvellous Kissinger, though in my humble opinion Stone goes too far when he makes Kissinger the White House 'leaker' and accuses the Secretary of State of complicity in the Watergate break-ins.
One scene which works splendidly is the (true) incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Nixon tries to glad-hand the indignant youngsters, using the hearty, patronising approach of a bygone generation. The sad revulsion of the protesters shows the gulf between Nixon's consciousness and the spirit of the age.
"I hope I haven't let you down" is uttered one single time by Nixon, towards the end of the film. The truth is, he hit on this formula of words and used it again and again during the final days of his presidency. It was a last desperate attempt to tweak our sympathy-nodes. As such, it was utterly gauche, utterly craven, utterly guileful, yet utterly unrealistic. In fact, utterly Nixon.
In an overall solid cast, Anthony Hopkins shines in a powerful performance
as Richard Nixon in this Oliver Stone film tracing the former president's
life from his boyhood in California to his resignation as U.S. President in
Nixon is seen as a troubled figure, insecure and paranoid, with few friends. An unhappy childhood, in which he refers to himself as his mother's "faithful dog," in fact does dog him his whole life, as he seeks to please a demanding ultra-religious mother (Mary Steenburgen)who had already died by the time he took office as President, but whose memory and expectations lived on. Nixon is burdened with an unhappy marriage to Pat (Joan Allen) - unhappy largely because of his own obsession with political success - and haunted by the ghost of John Kennedy, who defeated him for the presidency in 1960 and who Nixon could never live up to. Kennedy was loved; Nixon was hated - he could never get over that. A scene near the end of the movie demonstrates his feelings toward JFK as he looks at Kennedy's White House portrait: "They look at you and see what they want to be; they look at me and see who they are."
Although the movie - as any review of Nixon's life will - revolves around Watergate, it provides a fascinating summary of his life, and of what added up to make him the troubled and lonely figure he really was. There's also typical Oliver Stone material as dark hints of conspiracy extending far beyond Watergate are inserted. Perhaps the most unsettling being a meeting Nixon has shortly before JFK's assassination with some supporters in Texas who are trying to convince him to run for the presidency again in 1964. Nixon protests that Kennedy can't be beaten in '64. A Cuban American present says ominously "What if Kennedy doesn't run in '64?"
A truly fascinating portrayal of a fascinating man, even in the end somewhat sympathetic to Nixon as the film ends with his 1994 funeral service, some comments at that service by President Clinton and a summary of his career by a narrator pointing out his accomplishments. A last note: kudos to Paul Sorvino, who hit Henry Kissinger bang on.
I will start by saying I am an Oliver Stone fan. For some particular
reason though I did not expect to like this movie but obviously I did.
He actually unexpectedly gave a very fair depiction of Nixon. Nixon
really transformed before my eyes in here. That was really something
special to see.
The acting was quite good. Anthony Hopkins though totally uplifted this movie. I could imagine many people saying his performance was over-the-top or a bit too surreal at times. Yet that is what really made his performance so amazing. The way he was able to transform the many crazy and totally off the wall aspects of Nixon and make them into a reality. To me as the movie went on I felt I was in some way able to see his paranoia, anxiety, thirst for power and just the simple fact of wanting to be liked. I could see he was more of a troubled and vulnerable man than a monster. He never quite connected with anybody which made him bitter and fueled his paranoia and greed even more. To me Hopkins portrayed this all perfectly, all the complexities and inner feelings of Nixon. Hopkins slipped into this role in way that you rarely see. He became Nixon, and at times I was speechless or should I say thoughtless watching him portray such an important figure in such a way. More and more I felt sorry for Nixon, as he looked more and more like a schizophrenic. To me this role was more psychologically bone-chilling than his role as Hannibal Lechter in Silence of the Lambs and I have no problem debating that.
The rest of the cast was quite good as well. Joan Allen was very good in showing the complex relationship/marriage she had with Richard Nixon. James Woods freaked me out at times displaying that pure evil and hatred at times that Hopkins showed as Nixon. Paul Sorvino was very good as Henry Kissinger. Mary Steenburgen was interesting to watch in the very limited time she played in here. The two actors though other than Hopkins though that really stood out to me were Bob Hoskins and Sam Waterston. Despite Hoskins not giving an amazing performance and having very limited time he gave me chills just seeing J. Edgar Hoover being portrayed in some sort of way. Sam Waterston despite being limited to really just one scene was even more chilling than the rest of the cast(excluding Hopkins) combined in that one moment. That moment was one of the most intense face to face scenes that I have ever seen. It was so memorable.
The directing was very good. It was not the best I have seen from Oliver Stone but it was up there. For the first 45 minutes or so I was a bit confused about what was happening and the flow of the movie but I got used to it. The first portion of the movie did feel unbalanced at times but the feel of the movie got better as it wore on. Going back to that one scene between Sam Waterston and Anthony Hopkins, I felt this scene was one of the best directed and written scenes I have seen from Oliver Stone or anyone ever. That scene was a microcosm of the movie. The motion-sickness, mind scrambling, paranoid feeling of that scene captured the entire movie. The feeling of even seeing the president himself being treated like a puppet, despite not that shocking, was mind numbing to watch. That scene was true testament to the writing and directing abilities of Oliver Stone.
The writing was also very good throughout. It seemed as if everything Stone wanted to get across got across. The writing was not amazing but it certainly served it duty. The cinematography was great though. Stone always knows how to get his point across in the way he photographs a movie even if all of other aspects of the movie fail. That dark Oliver Stonish feeling kept on creeping in on every scene, but also that dark psychological feeling that he had put in Born On the Fourth of July and Platoon also was felt through the cinematography. The music by John Williams, who always knows how to capture a moment musically, was simply perfect in here again.
I can understand this movie being boring to a lot of people or it being considered propaganda. Yet I think this movie is an overlooked masterpiece. Just seeing Anthony Hopkins perform as Nixon is a good enough reason to see this movie. He took control of this movie by force and took it to another level. Despite this being an Oliver Stone movie it is more fair than you would think. Of course this movie may have a few conspiracy theories included in it but Oliver Stone never forces his theories on people. There is a reason why at the beginning at every movie he puts a disclaimer saying that not everything in his movies are facts. Despite it being great I don't know if this is a movie for everyone. This movie seems to be crazy and surreal but isn't that how life seems to be at times as well?
This is a scary one. A merciless look into the pathology of one weird
bloke. Anthony Hopkins may not look like Nixon but he does the role to
perfection. It is truly scary.
Great cast. Hopkins is a hard working star. What a shame he lost to the Hoffman aper Cage. And Nixon? What a loser. What a terrible insufferable tragic loser. It surely was a challenge to do this for Hopkins.
The biggest most significant detriment is of course one knows not where fact ends and fiction begins. Stone doesn't exactly have a reputation for avoiding hyperbole.
But taken as a personality portrait it's devastating. You might know your history but you've probably never imagined things were like this. You could have imagined them if you'd taken the time, but this movie brings you there.
It's just a tragic movie about an extraordinarily tragic figure. Stone brought you Salvador where he showed how well he knows the art of movie making; he brought you the screenplay for Scarface; and so forth. He can do it, whether or not he goes too far on some occasions. The movie production itself is very good.
And it's a long one. It's not a popcorn movie. It's extremely depressing and frightful. A look into one very weird pathology. But a 7 out of 10 is not out of order.
Oliver Stone has a way of making films that grab you and hold you until the final frame. His films are usually controversial and that's what generates much debate and Nixon is no exception. Anthony Hopkins assumes the mantle of Richard M. Nixon and he does it with style. His Nixon is a complex man, full of ambition and dreams, but also filled with demons. Nixon lives in the shadow of JFK, and because of that, he feels he can never live up to the greatness that he aspires to. Joan Allen is equally convincing as Pat Nixon. She is a strong woman who loves her husband, but unlike Nixon, she grows tired of the political world. The film works best when we see the inner workings of the Nixon Whitehouse. We see the coverup of the Watergate break in. We see Nixon's historic visit to China and we see the final farewell of a flawed, but ambitious man. It's hard to cram an entire lifetime into a three hour film, but Stone manages to do it well. We get brief glimpses into Nixon's past and we see the events that eventually undid him. Some may say that Nixon is painted in an unfair light. I think Stone actually sympathizes with him. Here was a man who came into power in the middle of a war. He was feared by many and misunderstood by all. Nixon was able to rise above it all for a short period of time, and in that brief period, he did have the world.
Richard Nixon's (Oscar-nominee Anthony Hopkins) life is told from his early childhood days in 1920s California to his disgraceful resignation in 1974 from the Watergate scandal (one of the stupidest and most trivial events of U.S. history). The 37th president of the U.S. lost the 1960 presidential election to JFK and then lost the California governor race of 1962. By 1963 it appears that Nixon is out of the spotlight for good politically and that he is struggling to keep his marriage to Pat Nixon (a superb turn by Oscar-nominee Joan Allen in arguably her finest role) alive. Things turn strange though as Nixon has strange meetings with big-time oil men in Texas (Larry Hagman leading the group) and even with J. Edgar Hoover (scene-stealer Bob Hoskins). It is obvious that there are some potentially sinister things going on from high-ranking people. Soon JFK is assassinated, the 1964 election becomes a mess for both parties as LBJ wins by default and then LBJ decides not to run in 1968. The Republicans once again turn to Nixon, but Nixon (full of self-doubt and inferiority complexes) is fearful that 1968 against RFK will be a repeat of 1960 (Nixon believes that JFK and the Democrats stole the 1960 presidency). More cloak and dagger situations occur and RFK is assassinated in California, leaving the door open for Nixon to win the presidency. Vietnam, a whole host of questionable allies (led by James Woods, E.G. Marshall, J.T. Walsh, David Paymer, David Hyde Pierce, Powers Boothe, Fyvush Finkel) and constant advisement from Henry Kissinger (an amazing transformation by Paul Sorvino, who rivals Hopkins' performance the whole way) end up turning Nixon's life upside down. Soon taped White House conversations and growing paranoia also pops up and public/national/international/military/social chaos ensues. While all this occurs the president's personal life is shown through flashbacks (Mary Steenburgen as his mother and Tony Goldwyn as his older brother dominate these parts of the film). We see two of his brothers dying of tuberculosis, his short courtship of his wife and various other parts of his early life that stand out. The Watergate break-in (led by Ed Harris) continues to be one of the strangest things that has ever happened (the motives of the apparent burglary have never been clear). 18 minutes of missing audio recordings are one of the biggest mysteries of the 20th Century. Director Oliver Stone (who received an Oscar nod for co-writing the script) surprisingly is unbiased with this film. Watching "Platoon", "Born on the Fourth of July" and "JFK" would lead one to believe that Stone would pull no punches with "Nixon". However he gives Nixon's story an element of truth and compassion. There are so many unknown things that went on with Nixon throughout his political career that Stone has to fill in lots of missing pieces with speculations (some that seem very logical and some not so much). Thus the film goes on and on (running about 195 minutes). Even with all the airtime though the film does not move slowly and never becomes dull. In fact it is one of those projects that could have gone on even longer and it still would have been an interest-generator. Whether you like, dislike or are indifferent when it comes to Nixon the person, "Nixon" the movie is an outstanding achievement that stands high with Stone's better works and also deceptively becomes one of the more under-rated and under-appreciated pictures of the 1990s. 5 stars out of 5.
This one has always been one of my all-time favorites. As a political
science major, I was fascinated the first time I saw it, and have seen
it several times since. You almost have to to assimilate everything.
But as a political science junkie and a history nerd, I always found
this film to be very entertaining and fun to watch, especially if
you're a historian who's also read other books on the Nixon
administration, All the President's Men, etc.
This film gives a very raw look into the world of the Presidency and politics. I think Hopkins did a wonderful job as Nixon, as well as the rest of the cast (namely Bob Hoskins as J. Edgar Hoover and Ed Harris as E. Howard Hunt). From a historian's perspective, I think it did a fair job of looking at what Nixon's career was like, the disappointments he experienced, the struggles he made, the mistakes he committed, and the situation he found himself in once he finally became President. The film's a bit long (especially the redone version = 3.5 hours), but I think it's worth it.
And I'm fully aware of Oliver Stone's background. I've always had a mixed reaction with Mr. Stone. Two of my favorite films ever are Nixon and Alexander (and I'm even a Greek Republican), yet the only film I've ever walked out on was JFK. JFK was just too much; the only assassination theory Stone didn't throw in it was the UFO theory. But as far as Nixon goes, I commend Stone for giving a fair portrayal of him, knowing what a notorious liberal he is. And once again, this is coming from a moderate Republican.
Extremists will hate this film. Ultra-conservatives will look as this film with skepticism and claim it's BS while radical liberals will claim it's "too sympathetic" toward Nixon. But for anyone with open eyes who isn't narrow-minded one way or the other, or for anyone interested in what the world of politics is like, I highly recommend this film. Like I said, it's always been one of my all-time favorites.
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