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The HBO documentary was broadcast here one day after its US premiere and one year after Election Day which brought Obama to the White House. There was certainly inspiration and and an amount of risk taken by HBO to put a whole team to follow Obama's campaign starting with 2006, as his election was not really in the cards from the start. This is maybe one of the reasons for which I expected more from this documentary than I really received.
We do see the team since it's start, and actually we see more of the team then of Obama himself. We are introduced to some of the key participants in the campaign, all true believers, all deeply involved not only at the political and professional but also at the personal level. We see the crowds gathering, especially on the Democratic side, and on Obama's side within the Democratic Party - and the film does not try to keep any balance on reporting and does not show too many articulated opinions of the other camps. The arguments are most of the time emotional rather than rational, rhetoric rather than analytical. It's the story of the campaign, well told and well filmed, in chronological order - it happens under our eyes, and it is assumed that we know why it happened. Maybe in the future the documentary value of this story telling will increase, right now it's too new for us to have forgotten it already.
There are no big surprises, no real scoops for people trying to learn more about the secret of Obama's victory. I expected some more information about the well conducted campaign on the Internet, or about the efficient money raising which was a key part in the success - there is no mention about this. There is also almost no mention about the international dimension of the campaign, or how the big policies issues were answered by Obama and what differentiated it relative to the other candidates on the Democratic and Republican side, leading eventually to victory. The film addresses more the emotional side, whoever looks for extended information or deep analysis will not find it here. The best moments are those in which we get a glimpse of the human dimension of the Obama family, or of the people who were involved in the campaign. For some viewers this may be enough, for other not. Depending upon the expectations 'By the People' can be satisfying or disappointing to the same extent.
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