California's first settlements were born of missionary zeal. It promised a haven from marauders and mercenaries. Since then it has tempted us with unlimited gold, boundless harvests, silver... See full summary »
Enjoyably gruff and informative even if it is hard to laugh sometimes
It is a very modern obsession to think that nothing we do has happened before, and that we experience everything for the first time assuming that those who did not have an iPhone 7 in previous generations must have just worked and gone to bed. Certainly this recent US election, while certainly filled with event, is probably not the shocking low that everyone says it is it is just that more and we have constant news cycles, and agendas to be pushed, and all of us are much more connected to it than ever before. In Rich Hall's film this seems to be the underlying message because he looks back over many other races to see the dirty tricks and stamina needed to make it to the big office.
From Dukakis's perceived weakness all the way back to Jefferson and Adams throwing mud at each other dressed as 'news', the film is informative and depressing. Informative because it gives a lot of history that UK viewers will not be aware of (including me), but also depressing because it does mean that nothing really changes in people or politics only the tools they use, or the topics they use as weapons. In the middle Rich Hall is his typically gruff self, but very much in his 'documentarian' mode here rather than his full-on comedian role. He still has humor but some of the more comedic stuff doesn't work as well, even if mostly his style serves to make the politics more accessible.
I watched this after the election, so perhaps it had lost even more of its humor for me, but it wasn't really the laughs that made it worth a look. Not the strongest of Rich Hall's BBC4 films, but interesting and enjoyable nonetheless.
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