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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Frost Nixon: The Original Watergate Interviews

Political Junkie: noun, one who has an insatiable interest or devotion to the goings on of matters political. That is me. I religiously make the journey down to Question Time at least once a week, I watch C-SPAN online. The morbid fascination eats me up: politics is a game, and games—especially ones where a lot is at stake—are like heroin. A niche community full of people who always need a fix.

Frost Nixon: The Original Watergate Interviews is the perfect sickly sweet dose of methadone to tide over a slow week in politics. The interviews, which originally took place in 1977—four years after Nixon left the White House, plunge you into one of America’s tensest political moments. Had Nixon lied, was he the dirty criminal that people like Hunter S. Thompson had been alleging since the mid-60s?

Watching The Original Watergate Interviews it is easy to see why this point in history is so pivotal. The tension between the protagonist Frost and the devilish antagonist Nixon is just there. You can see it in Nixon’s eyes and hear it in his voice. Frost’s frustration at being stonewalled and the sense of victory as Nixon kinda-sorta admits he did something wrong.

I had seen parts of the interviews on YouTube before the movie dramatisation. In the lead up to the release of Frost/Nixon this was sadly removed—probably with the thought that a compilation DVD of the original interviews would sell well off the back of the movie. Watching the full series leaves you a bit retrospectively depressed about the movie. You start to see how much of the movie was dramatised. Still, if you don’t think you can handle the raw footage, hire out Frost/Nixon. Langella’s performance as Nixon—even though he looks nothing like him—alongside Michael Sheen’s Frost is a pretty decent recreation of the actual events.

You can give much of the documentary a rest, but you must watch the reactions of Frost after 32 years of contemplation. It is hard to tell how true his anecdotes about Nixon et al are or how embellished by they have become by time. I would like to resurrect zombie Nixon to see what he thinks of his legacy. Undoubtedly he would spit vitriol. It is easy to see why Nixon remains easily one of the most hated presidents.

Me and Hunter are off to shoot up down at Parliament. See you after the holidays.


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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

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