To dwell upon a film about the political process, I choose The Candidate by Michael Ritchie. It is important to say that I have never watched this picture before but have always heard approving reviews of the audience. After I finally watched the movie, I can cordially say that it satisfied my expectations because it shows the truth and it matches with the nowadays information about properties of the political process and its connection with mass-media.
The Candidate is a movie featuring Robert Redford. Its leitmotifs contain the inner structure of politics corrupts and the need to weak one’s point to win a voting. According to Marco Calavita (2001), “There are many matches between the 1970 election to California Senate between John V. Tunney and George Murphy”, but Redford’s hero, Bill McKay, is a governmental beginner, while Tunney was an experienced Congressman. The filming of the movie took place in 1971 in Northern California. Peter Boyle plays the role of the political expert Marvin Lucas. Jeremy Larner, who was a speechwriter for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy in his Democratic Presidential election campaign, wrote the scenario of the movie. Art duet of Michael Ritchie and Robert Redford as the director and the executive producer sarcastically discovered the intrigues and handlings of multimedia political operations in this partly skeptical political drama.
In order to challenge Republican incumbent Crocker Jarmon for his Senate chair, campaign genius Marvin Lucas offers to nominate a new candidate a lawyer from California Bill McKay, who is at the same time the son of the previous governor of this state. McKay agrees with this proposal on condition to openly speak out his thoughts about serious social issues. However, this is not easy to perform, and the hero faces some problems with the electors. When ratings of McKay grow up, his opponents start to inherit methods of his campaign. There are many documental moments in the film, which took place in the history of the Presidential campaign, and this method of representing is called cinéma vérité. He scored a campaign process for the applicant Redford that illustrated such a substantial upstaged spectators that native political leaders want to see Redford in a true politic campaign.
The principal and possibly the loudest depiction of the innovative media-determined American political process, The Candidate became for Redford one of his hardest theatrical parts. At the same time, Michael Ritchie’s warning story turned out to be prophetic in its note. Additionally, Redford’s resemblance to John Kennedy and the situation with the upcoming election of the real California ruler only highlighted the truth The Candidate reveals about the nature of political campaigns. It is interesting to know that the film received Oskar for the Best Original Screenplay. The Candidate sharply satirizes the influence of the broadcasting on the progressively unmoral political campaign.
The movie basically tells a tale about a young, principled barrister who occurs to be the child of the previous governor of California and who is selected as a candidate for the US Senate. Robert Redford does an enormous job in this film; he plays the role of the central character, who fights against the political organization but finally turns into a refined, trained, and skilled political leader, which manages to win the Senate seat. It is wonderful how delicate the filmmakers were trying to be here; and less watchful spectators may not notice McKay’s very slow change from an honest person who says his mind “Every woman should have the right to an abortion” to a smooth politician, who later puts this question as “Abortion is something that we should study” (Ritchie, 1972). This cinematographic tale demonstrates how most people get lost in the electing chaos and turn from uncompromising persons with honorable intentions to corrupt individuals, whose only aim is to win subsequent elections. In other words, the filmmakers wanted to express the idea that electing campaign is the beginning of lies in the politician’s life, not the ending.
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The Candidate is a consummate work, with a brilliant scenario and great performers (Allen Garfield as Redford and Melvyn Douglas as Redford’s father). Mainly because of Redford’s individual political opinions, the picture does not go as far as it could in the presentation of the vice rambling in governmental policy. There is one episode, in which Redford has an argument with a Teamster chief, but it rests unanswered, and in the next scene Redford is more or less back to his timeworn perfectionism. The audience sees that something has occurred but does not know why and what.
The film describes the political process as dangerous and not common in old (and modern as well) social life of the country. I think that such kind of procedure is not excellent, but widespread and usual, so the real life is very similar to the movie. Political situation and political changes are not ideal, like in fantasy books, but fast and dramatic in a wide range of ratings. It is neither bad nor good, it is normal. Therefore, I do not want that our politics initiates these features, but this is an inevitable part of every election campaign. The advantage of The Candidate is that it focuses on the political process through the behavior of the main hero so that the viewer can see another example of artwork connected with the theme of the “role of a man in history”.
The film provokes a very strong opinion about what people have to do to gain success. The audience sees a slow carving of McKay’s character as he betrays his philosophies in order to be elected. By the end of the campaign, the innocent, truthful, and fresh man the viewer sees at the beginning disappears, substituted by a glossy copy of a politician. The film leaves a robust impression that in order to earn a person has to change. Although The Candidate is quite an old movie, the teachings it suggests about government and what it does to people is still topical nowadays.
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