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Nixon (movie)

From Academic Kids

Nixon is a 1995 film which tells the story of the political and personal life of former President Richard Nixon. It stars Anthony Hopkins as Nixon, Joan Allen (Pat), Powers Boothe (Haig), Ed Harris (Hunt), Bob Hoskins (Hoover), E.G. Marshall (Mitchell), David Paymer (Ziegler), David Hyde Pierce (Dean), Paul Sorvino (Kissinger), Mary Steenburgen (Nixon's mother), J.T. Walsh (Ehrlichman), James Woods (Haldeman), and a veritable who's who of cameo appearances.

The movie was written by Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson and Oliver Stone. It was directed by Stone.

Confounding the expectations of some critics who expected the movie to be a "hatchet job," it actually portrays Nixon as a complex and in many respects admirable character, though deeply flawed. Stone's only ideological polemic in the film is to attempt to link Nixon to the assassination of John F. Kennedy by his association with ultra-right wing business leaders, anti-Castro Cubans, and Nixon's visit to Dallas in November of 1963 (coinciding with Kennedy's own, ill-fated arrival at Dallas's Love Field).

The film covers all aspects of Nixon's life in order to get a better psychological portrait of both the man and the president; however, the film is not to be taken as literal history "as it happened," but rather as a pastiche and composite of actual events. It depicts his childhood in Whittier, California as well as his growth as a young man, football fan/player, and suitor to his eventual wife, Pat Nixon. It fully explores most of the important achievements of his presidency, including his downfall due to abuse of executive power in the White House. Most of the major and minor figures who helped propel Nixon to the Presidency are represented as well as those who played important roles within his administration.

The film is a non-chronological narrative and is typical of Oliver Stone's visual style and cinematic approach to history, using a variety of film stocks and video techniques to give a sense of time, place, psychology and mood. The film's opening sequence offers a visual/aural homage to Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and invokes the overall mood of Shakespearean tragedy. The cinematic style is considered to be "operatic," meaning that the figure of Nixon is writ larger than life across the screen and all aspects of the incidents that make up his life are explored with a heightened sense of style in order to create psychological suture and draw the viewer in for a better understanding of why Nixon acted as he did. The film is not nearly as judgemental as Stone's prior work (notably his 60's Trilogy of: Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, and Heaven & Earth, as well as his highly controversial work JFK. His film The Doors is also oriented toward his own experiences in the 1960's but leaves out arguments against America's involvement in the Vietnam War).

Both Hopkins and Stone decided to eschew the use of prosthetic makeup in creating the iconographic figure of Richard Nixon (test makeup for Nixon actually appears in some quickly edited clips during the film, and looks almost odd in comparison). The famous sloped nose and heavy jowls are gone, but the stiff shoulders, slicked back hair, and tense, nervous grin are all there in spades. Hopkins achieves a remarkable resemblance to the man by acting as if he really was Nixon, warts and all. Nixon's alcohol dependency (heavy social drinking was the norm during those times), as well as that of his wife, is fully implied here as is the pill addiction he faced during his remaining years in office (Nixon's health problems, including his bout of phlebitis and pneumonia during the Watergate crisis are also shown in the film, and his pill use is sometimes attributed to those health issues).

The defining event of his Presidency, Watergate, is fully explored here and bookends the film as the culmination of years of neurosis, private inadequacy and paranoia that Nixon went through during most of his life and political career. The film allows for the fact that it was not just a bungled burglary at the Watergate Hotel that caused his downfall, but that it was simply the lynchpin that allowed Congress to investigate his other misdeeds and abuses of power in the Executive Office. The other impeachable offenses are detailed as well: the so-called secret bombing of Cambodia, the harassment of Daniel Ellsberg, the misuse of domestic intelligence, the stonewalling of Congress [1] (http://watergate.info/impeachment/impeachment-articles.shtml). Other events explored include his early political years as a Congressman and anti-Communist "red-baiter", the Alger Hiss case, his years as Vice President to Dwight D. Eisenhower including the infamous Checkers speech, his 1962 run for Governor of California against Pat Brown, his infamous 1962 concession speech declaring the end of his political career, and his political resurrection after his defeat in his first run for the Presidency against John F. Kennedy. The film ends with Nixon's resignation and famous departure from the lawn of the White House on the helicopter Army One. Real life footage of Nixon's state funeral in Yorba Linda, California plays out over the extended end credits, and all living presidents at the time, including Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, are shown in attendance [2] (http://www.nixonlibrary.org/Nixons/rnfuneral.shtml).

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joan Allen), Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

A director's cut was released on DVD, with 28 minutes of previously deleted scenes restored. Much of the added time consists of two scenes, one in which Nixon met with CIA director Richard Helms (played by Sam Waterston), and another on Tricia Nixon's wedding day, in which J. Edgar Hoover persuades Nixon to install the taping system in the Oval Office.

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