Sunday, November 12, 2006


DEATH OF A PRESIDENT is a 90 mockumentary film showing the fictionalised assassination of George W Bush outside the Chicago Sheraton and exploring the investigation and trial following this event. The subject matter has made the film controversial. The film-makers have been accused of being "sick" and politically motivated. This review is not here to convince you either way. You may find the staged assassination of a living person sick - fair enough. I probably agree with you, although I still appreciate living in a society where this sort of movie can be made.

But with regards to this specific film there are two key points I want to make. First, it's a technically brilliant film. The actual news footage of Bush, Cheney, protestors and police is masterfully blended with re-enactments, DV and video-phone footage. What makes this such an emotive film is exactly the fact that it does look so authentic. The editing and filming is astoundingly well designed to complement the stock footage and you get the feeling that the director also spent a lot of time researching the mechanics of how this kind of event would work. The talking heads - members of the Secret Service, the press corps, the forensics teams etc. - all seem to speak with great authority. So from a purely technical point of view - as an exercise in cinema - this movie deserves plaudits.

The second point I want to make is that, to my, mind, the detailed content of the film is not particularly anti-Bush or anti-GOP or even anti-war. Rather it is about examining the way in which current events have ramifications and the way in which they are portrayed in the media. To portray an assassin being provoked by Bush's war policy into an act of murder is not to condone it or to condemn the war policy - merely to show a credible event. Of course, you can still think the movie is "sick" in a macro sense, but in the detail, this is not a loaded film.

DEATH OF A PRESIDENT showed at Toronto 2006 where it won the FIPRESCI prize. It was shown on UK TV in October and opened in the US a fortnight ago. It opens in Belgium on Hanuary 10th 2007 and in the Netherlands on March 15th. DEATH OF A PRESIDENT was released on UK DVD this week.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I thought this was a bit of a dud. Technically it's very well done and the first 30 minutes (up until the death) were quite good but the rest of it wasn't anything special.