Admittably, I was fairly unaware of the importance of Barry Goldwater in US politics until viewing this film. As a left-leaning independent voter in my mid-30s, I am very interested in how the conservative movement has changed since the 1950's, and even more so since the 1970's.
The good and bad aspects of his public life are all on equal display here: his stance against desegregation, his friendship with rival JFK, the presidential campaign against Johnson, and the years following in the Senate. But what stood out to me was the balls the man displayed standing up to his own party on cultural issues. Goldwater's steadfast denial of the grasp of the ridiculous self-righteous Falwell and his ilk are a prime example of what is missing from today's conservative politicos. Other examples of how he felt conservatives should practice what they claim to preach (keeping government out of our lives) are his oppositions to limiting gay and abortion rights. Very few current GOP candidates would ever dare follow these leads, proving that Goldwater was quite possibly the last of his kind.
The man's personal life is also very well represented, lovingly presented by his granddaughter C.C., with many interviews with friends and family peppered throughout. Goldwater's love of photography, Native Americans and their culture, flying planes, and his family (even when separated by the call of public service) are all touched upon, a reminder that the men and women we may idolize or vilify for their public personas are all still human underneath it all.
This is all laid out in an easy-to-follow, well-documented fashion that leaves you knowing much more about the man than before, and possibly wishing to know more. I hope that there are more films in the future so clearly portraying the political figures of the recent past, so perhaps our future crop may learn from their follies and successes.
** I hope that future reviews of this fine documentary actually grade this film on the merits of the film, rather than the politics the man stood for. **
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