Throughout the history of America, there have been important watershed moments that dramatically affected the future. Some of the biggest moments in the 20th century include the World Wars, the assassination of JFK, and certainly the Watergate scandal.
All the President’s Men (1976) is the true story of two reporters’ investigation of the Watergate scandal. The movie captures your attention and runs with it as we are swept up in the unraveling scandal. Each minute of the movie raises the excitement level as new details are unearthed, and more high level government officials are exposed to be involved in the scandal.
Robert Redford is the shining star in this film as he depicts reporter Bob Woodward. Dustin Hoffman lends a valuable role in the movie as well with his portrayal of reporter Carl Bernstein. The two do an excellent job working off each other and portraying two reporters reluctant to work together but work well as a team.
The movie captures the new attitude people had about presidents and people of power. According to one blogger, high-ranking officials thought themselves untouchable because they deserved to be. Watergate showed that even the most powerful men must answer for what they have done.
The movie also depicted the fears of American citizens. It is a long-held belief that the government is quick to cover up information that could damage its image, even if that information compromises the well-being of the public. The scandal and movie reminds us of the value of transparency, and the destructive nature of cover-ups. From a public relations standpoint, Watergate was a complete failure.
Washington Post Reporter Bob Woodward is assigned a story on a recent break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Complex. The story seems trivial at first, but as new information surfaces, with the help of an anonymous source in the FBI called ‘Deep Throat,’ it is clear he is dealing with a scandal of epic proportions.
The Washington Post assigns Carl Bernstein on the case as well. The two find it hard to work together at first, but it later becomes clear their journalistic abilities complement each other well. Together, they uncover connections between the burglars and high-ranking members of the government. Their investigation brings them to President Richard Nixon’s Special Council Charles Coleson, who tells the reporters to leave the story alone.
Eventually, the trail leads all the way up to President Nixon Himself, who ordered a cover-up of the break-in. The movie ends with a montage of Nixon’s resignation. The rest is history.
Why it’s awesome
Everybody loves the story of the little guy taking down ‘big brother,’ who in this case is the United States government. We’re drawn in as the facts unravel and more people are implicated in the scandal. This is how you make a movie about a couple of reporters running around asking questions actually interesting.
The screenplay is well-written and was nominated for several awards, even winning one from the Writer’s Guild of America. Redford himself was heavily involved in the film’s production and writing, and worked closely with the real Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The movie is so accurate to real events that some journalism and government classes show the movie in class as an educational tool.
The movie makes me wonder if there are important secrets the government has been successful in hiding. Maybe this is why a site like Wikileaks can be helpful in keeping people honest.