Saturday, October 25, 2008

Death of a President

Death of a President; Fictional documentary, UK, 2006; D: Gabriel Range, S: Neko Parham, Robert Mangiardi, Hend Ayoub, Becky Ann Baker, Patricia Buckley, George W. Bush, Dick Chenney

Chicago, 19 October 2007. US president George W. Bush goes to a hotel to hold a speech about the danger from the North Korea's regime, while the angry protesters are outside. Just as Bush exits and greets some of his fans, he is shot in the chest by an unknown person. He is transported to the hospital, but dies. Dick Cheney then steps in and becomes the new US president, using the assassination as a pretext for Patriot Act III. A Muslim Syrian is soon arrested, Zikri, and sentenced even though he claims to be innocent. When the police find new evidence, namely that Bush was actually killed by veteran Al Claybon because his son died in Iraq. Despite all this, Zikri remains in prison.

A dream movie for all those hard core George W. Bush haters, unusual fictional documentary "Death of a President" goes in a completely different direction: it's actually a politically neutral film that uses the fictional assassination of the 43rd president of the US as a pretext for some philosophical contemplation about civil rights, disobedience, political infiltration of the juridical system and scapegoats. Director Gabriel Range used a lot of neat tricks to give an impression that the archive footage is actually new while he has a good hand of crafting fictional events and their feel, like when the angry protesters are chanting: "How many children did you kill today, Bush?", alluding to the ongoing and increasingly unpopular war in Iraq. Even at those moments, Range keeps his neutral opinion, as if he is just observing people without any commentary. The actual assassination itself isn't that convincing since not much is shown, but even there does the author manage to fill some good details here and there, like the obvious that the market would plummet to a record low. Because of the fact that he "announced" the assassination of a current, still living president, the movie gathered quite a controversy and debate of it's intentions, even though it shouldn't be taken too seriously. But frankly, it seems the authors stopped half way, just when the story was starting to become intriguing - if they showed what would happen if the US actually attacked the Syrian government, the movie would have made a clear point.In the end, it's a original, daring and unusual film full of audacity, but without a clear point or a strategy, which together with it's slow pace and unexciting events brings it down.


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