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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Comedy > Hunting Of The President (Documentary)

The Hunting Of The President (Documentary)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



For those wondering why John Kerry lost the Presidency to George W. Bush, and it was Kerry’s election to loose, one place to look is in the Harry Thomason/Nickolas Perry documentary The Hunting Of The President, issued a few months before the election.  At first, many were shocked that explicitly conservative Fox would pick up and distribute it and do it well enough not to be criticized.  Instead of it being a case of “fair and balanced” though, it turns out they did it because it shows the weakness in the Kerry approach that was so bad, it allowed Bush to win.


Based on the well-chronicled book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, the film has great material to unreel, but anytime the film gets really interesting and makes a very strong, valid point, idiotic nonsense footage and editing kicks in and undermines the film over and over again.  The bizarre kind of humor the film offers is condescending and among the most counterproductive I have ever seen.  There is this growing attitude in the Democratic National Party that is ruining it and is the reason the Republicans had so many surprise gains.  There is this attitude that is not the elitist stereotype, but a strange assumption that the votes can be taken for granted for democrats (lazy Democrat syndrome) and that these people are in on some strange groupthink joke where everything a candidate says is “valid” and “obvious” to any “idiot” who is “paying attention” to what they see as going on.  The problem is they are thinking and saying only things they know the meaning of, very bad in politics.  This “humor” is perverted by a sick, dysfunctional sort of anger that comes blaring through in this work; the anger that helped Arnold Schwarzenegger win the Governorship of California after a sudden wave of accusations that he was a predator of women, that came through in all of Al Gore’s multiple personalities as he ignored the good things Clinton did, ignored the potential of Ralph Nader and sold himself out, the kind of silliness that people are not going to tolerate.  Promising four years of nonsense will repel anyone and considering Thomason did the film that got Clinton in The White House in the first place, this is a huge miscalculation that shows these people were in a bubble and blew it.  As for this film, what does work are the facts.  Too bad a “phantom edit” could not be done to fix this film, but Election Day 2004 is long over and it is too late for this to be taken as seriously as Fahrenheit 9/11, despite being more accurate.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is inclusive of a combination of a bunch of standard definition news broadcast video in the analog NTSC format and new interviews shot in digital video, but the inclusion of those silly film clips is unfortunate and the quality of them is often richer.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some Pro Logic surrounds, but they are nothing sonically great, yet better than simply two channels.  There are hardly any extras, but the main one that is here is a doozey.  After a major premiere screening, former President Clinton gives an incredible speech over forty minutes long that is stunning.  He tells it like it is about the past, present and future.  This was before Kerry lost, of course, but what he says holds so much weight and it is the kind of talk Bush could never hope to give.  It alone is as much a reason to get this DVD as the main program, but both are worth a look for their own reasons.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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