Most of us know Watergate as the scandal that caused Richard Nixon to be the only president to ever resign from office. But for those from the younger generation, who did not live through the infamous break in and subsequent consequences, we may not understand the details of the circumstances. Our Nixon allows anyone to grasp the situation that transpired and the long reaching effects it had on our nation and its leaders.
The film is comprised in large part of a collection of Super 8 tapes taken by three aides who all ended up in prison because of the
scandal. Director Penny Lane first heard about these twelve years ago and went through the lengthy process of transferring, viewing and editing them into the documentary which premiered at SXSW. H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin all worked in Nixon’s office and were known for filming everywhere they went. When the investigation was first launched, the film was confiscated and locked away for 40 years. Lane combines this lost media with interviews, audio recordings and even some of the taped conversations that took place inside Nixon’s office. What’s been created is an in depth and complicated look at one of the biggest scandals in recent history.
While some of Nixon’s behind the scenes comments are shocking, it certainly humanizes the president and weaves a complex picture of the times and circumstances that led to Watergate. The major players are shown in detail, but no one person is singled out as especially guilty. Chapin has actually seen the film and Penny Lane remarked that she thinks it does not paint him in a bad light. The documentary begins by establishing the end result of Watergate and then travels back to show how it all came to pass. We even hear the conversation in which Nixon decided to bug his own office and various opinions on what should or should not have been done. Aside from subtitles, nothing was added to this film that did not already exist. All the sound was found in various archives and, as the Super 8 films were entirely silent, sometimes synced up to accurately reproduce the feelings and experiences of the events. No matter if you lived through Nixon’s presidency or have only read about it in the history books, Our Nixon draws the audience in and presents a big picture view on what occurred during that time.
The Verdict: The archival footage is well presented and will leave the viewer satisfied and intrigued by the information contained within.
Opens: March 31, 2013
Director: Penny Lane