Dir/Wri: Charles Ferguson | With: David Mixner, Daniel Ellsberg, John Farrell, Patrick Buchanan, John Dean, Richard Reeves, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Lesley Stahl, Hugh Sloan, Paul Magallanes, John Mindermann, Betty Medsger, Lowell Weicker, William Ruckelshaus, Richard Ben-Veniste, Jill Wine-Banks, George Frampton, John McCain, Dan Rather, Elizabeth Holtzman, Pete McCloskey, Evan Davis | US Doc 271′
Spanning over four hours Charles Ferguson’s biopic of Nixon delves into the archives to offer up an immersive if plodding look at a political scandal that almost pales into significance when compared to our current situation in Westminster and The Whitehouse.
The Oscar-winning documentarian has really done his homework in a film that builds on Penny Lane’s tape-focused Our Nixon (2013) to offer interviews from key players in the episode including Dan Rather, Carl Bernstein and John McCain, and first hand accounts from Kissinger, Liddy, Ehrlichman and Mitchell. Watergate showcases a series events that sent shockwaves into the World as it was back then in the 1970s in a massive undertaking that will inform today’s audiences and those yet to come.
Ferguson clearly sets out his stall examining the events that led up to Nixon’s election in November 1968 and eventually culminated in the resignation of the 37th president of the United States of America in 1976. The tortuous process of cover-ups, lies and bogus explanations continued until eventually the inexorable machine of government took over during the summer of 1974. Ferguson incorporates dramatic re-imaginings of what went on and this enlivens what – for some – could be considered rather dry material. Although it is difficult to find actors that resemble real people: the only successful incidence of this was where Michael Sheen played Tony Blair in Peter Morgan’s trilogy.
As history reveals, the Nixon administration eventually wound up in 1976 with over 41 people convicted and serving time in prison for crimes relating to Watergate. It remains to be seen whether Ferguson will ever turn his hand to taking on the story of President Donald Trump. It certainly would be a colourful epic providing and interesting day’s programming on political intrigue at some festival in the future. This one is a collector’s item. MT
NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD AND ON DEMAND from 16 September 2019 | COURTESY OF DOGWOOF