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An Unreasonable Man (2006)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography | 24 January 2006 (USA)
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A look at the career of consumer advocate Ralph Nader from wannabe presidential candidate to public pariah.
2 nominations. See more awards »

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A look at the career of consumer advocate Ralph Nader from wannabe presidential candidate to public pariah.

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Ralph Nader : How Do You Define a Legacy?


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Not Rated
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Release Date:

24 January 2006 (USA)  »

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Opening Weekend:

$9,813 (USA) (2 February 2007)

Gross:

$175,237 (USA) (11 May 2007)
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Quotes

Ralph Nader: My father was there, he said, "Well, Ralph, what did you learn in school today? Did you learn how to think or did you learn how to believe?"
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Edited into Independent Lens: An Unreasonable Man (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
But More Reasonable than Republicans and Democrats?
25 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

This documentary is a chronicle of Ralph Nader's life and times, with an above-average dose of commentators. They are many: Nader's associates and many journalists, and others ranging from Phil Donahue to Pat Buchanan, but the latter is there for additional perspective on Nader, not debating points. Indeed, while the commentators support the documentary narrative on Nader's background, activities (including Nader's Raiders), and accomplishments, the biggest debate is on whether Nader did the right thing in not abandoning his independent Presidential bid in 2000 and perhaps costing Al Gore the election.

Some material on Nader's background is included, from his birth in Winsted, Ct. His parents were Lebanese immigrants. His mother was a political activist, and his father ran a restaurant and a bakery, helping shape Nader's lifelong affection for the marketplace and the consumer, as well as political discourse, for the restaurant was a haven for political discussion. The town-meeting-type government, in which Nader's family participated, with citizens voting on laws, was seen by Nader as pure democracy at work. Nader was bright and went to Harvard Law School, and he had a friend become paraplegic because of an auto accident.

Nader has championed many consumer issues. Auto safety, Nader's first claim to fame, is focused on most early and prominently and is a recurring theme, perhaps most appropriately. He took on GM, Ford, and Chrysler on seat belts to pollution control to steering mechanisms, and this is covered well, along with their twisted efforts to discredit him (even by extremely sleazy methods invading his privacy).

As for Nader's candidacy for President in 2000, the commentators debate extensively and, at some moments, venomously. He arguably cost Gore the election versus a reactionary President, and was his staying in until the end justified? But Nader ran because of what he believed in, thinking Democrats had become too much like Republicans. As the documentary covers at length, this had been a theme of Nader's political existence since the time of Nixon and Ford. Jimmy Carter turned out to be undependable in Nader's eyes, but the big problem really arose with the election of Reagan, the force of whose personality made people forget the difference between right and wrong, including on consumer issues. Regulations with their roots in Nader were opposed and sometimes successfully thrown out. Nader saw a lack of sympathy and agreement with his concerns continue through Democratic President Bill Clinton, whose Vice President was Gore. All in all, Nader's stubbornness in 2000 can be attributed to long-time frustration, not just recent events. Hence, the title of the movie, based on George Bernard Shaw's quote.

Nader's contribution on environmental (clean water and air) and safety matters outside of autos could have been discussed a little more. Another possible item for inclusion might have been some specifics on some laws and regulations, enacted and recommended; then, it might have been interesting to hear debate on whether he was right or was going too far, etc. However, this documentary ran more than two hours as is, and it is very well done; it will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone interested in the subject matter.


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