David Frost: Alright wait, wait just so I understand correctly, are you really saying that in certain situations the President can decide whether it’s in the best interest of the nation and then do something illegal…
Richard Nixon: I’m saying that when the President does it, that means it’s *not* illegal!
David Frost: I’m sorry?
Hollywood bigwig Ron Howard , the winner of the Oscar for the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ picked up playwright Peter Morgan’s script to bring out one of USA’s most controversial episode on the silver screen in the year 2008. The movie Frost / Nixon made it to the Oscars and lost to the incurable Slumdog Millionaire madness.
The Watergate scandal is a story of petty corruption .Historians still don’t know why exactly they tried to burgle the DNC headquarters on July 19. 1972. Reams of newspaper reports, senate committee reports on the topic have been written. Thankfully they found enough evidence to prosecute Nixon. And the coward ran from office when he knew that his impeachment was imminent. Surprisingly he won praise and earned sympathy for some quarters for this action.
But the simple fact is this – Even the most powerful man on the earth needs to stoop down to petty burglaries and its cover up to stay there. Mr.Nixon knew this and went ahead with his plots. The only mistake he did was to record all the bullshit he spoke in his office. He put his fingers into deep in the the pie. Too deep for everybody to ignore. No wonder he gave the FBI hounds all the scent they needed. To give a perfect ending to this fairy tale, the guy who succeeded Nixon pardoned him for all the crimes he “might” have committed during his presidency. End of story.
The movie is a narrative of the prelude and the actual Frost Nixon interviews that were conducted after Nixon’s resignation in 1972. Nixon agrees to give these interviews with a view to redeem his stature and also to get a huge sum of cash from Frost’s media friends. Nixon at that point of time, had hopes of rebuilding his political career. On the other hand, David Frost had commercial as well as journalistic interests.
Coming to the details of the movie, Frost Nixon scores high on its style of narrative and the quality of acting. Frank Langella and Charlie Sheen do justice to the roles of Nixon and Frost. Even the legendary Roger Ebert made it a point to note that “Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them” . Coming from Ebert, that is definitely a commendable aspect of the movie. The charming Rebecca Hall shines as Caroline Cushing, giving the exact performance that the character demands.
Though a slight dramatization is a necessary evil for the success of a historical drama movie, the factual errors do make it less authentic. One of the reviewer says that the interviews were not as successful as they appear to be. I must say that the fictionalization has worked well for both the viewers and the producers.
Though we can’t afford to take the facts and depictions of the characters of a historical movie at face value, we can still grasp the dilemma and pressures that David Frost underwent during the crucial interviews. It has been said that Frost was not so fidgety during the interviews as it has been depicted in the movie. A viewer must not expect a documentary but a typical fictionalized movie.
The High Points
1.Nixon’s monologue during the phone call to Frost on the night before the interview.
2.The point where Frost drops his notepad and says the three things the public would want to hear from the president.
3.The moment when Frost nails Nixon in the final part of the interview.
4.The last scene where Frost gifts Nixon a pair of shoes that he had admired during the interviews.
2008 was the year when “Slum-dog Millionaire” ruled the roost at Oscars and other major awards ceremonies. It was more profitable for all these jokers to go gaga over “Slum-dog Millionaire”. The public didn’t get to know the movie as much as it deserved.
The movie did pretty well in the box office , picking up $272,346,445 in worldwide collections. However, Mr.Ebert gave the movie a 4/4 and it received 7.9/10 average rating on rotten tomatoes.
Media as we know it today has become a puppet in the hands of the powerful and the rich. It has stopped serving its duty i.e dissemination of facts and the fighting for the people’s legitimate rights and values. Instead they have become the flag bearers of the ready-to-do-anything-for-money creed of looters.
We live in times when leaders maintain silence even in dire crises. Some leading reporters treat politicians as guests (these people are sold out in the first places). Others shout aloud mindlessly as if they are the only champions of truth. What we need is persuasive and honest reporters who do their homework and an atmosphere that encourages good journalism. Frost-Nixon depicts the kind of journalists and journalism that we ought to encourage in the media.
Watch it when you are in a mood for good cinema. It might not impress you if you watch movies for sheer entertainment and fun.