Quick recap: In the early 70’s, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were responsible for bringing the Watergate scandal to light. What starts out as a minor break in at the Democratic Headquarters eventually leads higher and higher up into the Republican Party and eventually implicating then-President Nixon. SPOILER ALERT- Nixon is forced to resign. I apologize if anyone was spoiled by that previous statement.
Fun (?) Fact: The movie was originally shot inside the real Washington Post office, but workers kept trying to get screen time so they rebuilt the office on a sound stage . The office shown on the film has meticulous details like real stickers and phone books that had been used during the scandal.
My thoughts: I love politics. I love movies. But I do not enjoy political movies, for the most part. In fact, the only movie I can recall really loving was ‘Frost/Nixon’, so maybe I just have a thing for Nixon? Personally, I find him to be one of the most interesting presidents we have had. Not one of the best, but interesting.
This movie was odd in that I was really drawn to it at the very beginning and very end, but the middle was a little tedious at times. Maybe it was because I already knew the outcome, but I was rather bored sitting through several scenes of Woodward and Bernstein calling people. It just seemed too true to life for me at the point. On the other hand, the film did a great job turning phone calls into AMAZING REVELATIONS!. I’m thinking of one scene where Bernstein calls the librarian and asks her about books that have been checked out. She admits to seeing the person but then a few minutes later denies ever hearing the man’s name. Riveting stuff, really. It was around this point, that I had my own AMAZING REVELATION. As I was watching Woodward and Bernstein combing through the library records, it occurred to me that I was looking at this film from the entirely wrong perspective: This movie was not about Watergate, but instead about journalism itself. After realizing this, I found myself enjoy the movie much more.
Being married to someone who was a journalist at one point and eventually changed careers because print media is dying, made this movie all the more poignant. I was amazed by how much WORK went into blowing a scandal open like this. Every tiny detail had to be researched and then confirmed by several sources before it went to print. The journalists involved gave every waking moment to investigating the scandal and it paid off. I can’t really comment on the state of things now, seeing as I don’t have first hand information, but I imagine that investigative journalism just isn’t the same anymore. There is one scene in the beginning of the movie where Woodward is trying to figure out a name on a list. He asks his boss, who happens to know what the man’s title is and it is that knowledge that helps move the investigation further along. Had this happened in modern times, Woodward would’ve simply Googled the name, maybe emailed the guy and waited around. I love me some technology, but there is something to watching how all of the clues are being put together without a use of a computer, just by talking to people. I loved how Woodward and Bernstein could make people talk. It wasn’t like the sources had a reason to give info and many were afraid to do so, but they helped anyway and it helped bring down the presidential office, eventually. I see it on Twitter, both political parties always looking for their ‘Watergate’, but the thing is, that was a once in a lifetime story, and even then may have amounted to nothing if it hadn’t been for those two. It’s a truly fascinating film to watch, if only to see the final death knell of traditional investigative journalism.
Final review: 4/5. The final few moments are some of the best in cinema history: Woodward and Bernstein writing the piece that finally blows everything open, as they watch Nixon’s inauguration on tv and the metaphor of the cannons blasting. And then summing up the rest of the events of Watergate, using the typewriter. Watch this movie, if only for these scenes.
Up next: The Silence of the Lambs