RONALD REAGAN: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
This month (February 2011) marks what would be the 100th birthday of Ronald Wilson Reagan, a beloved American actor and the 40th President of the United States. To celebrate this, filmmaker Robert D. Kline produced and directed “Ronald Reagan: An American Journey,” which released on DVD the week of Reagan’s birthday. The political career of Ronald Reagan is remembered through an montage of news stories, narration and milestone speeches.
WHAT I LIKED
While I don’t delve much into politics for film reviews, it becomes necessary to at least touch on personal views for a piece like this. For the most part, I fall on the right side of the aisle (though there are quite a few key issues that place me in the middle or even on the far left). So, as someone who identifies himself as conservative, I have a lot of respect for Ronald Reagan.
Growing up in the 1980s, I wasn’t as politically savvy as I am today, so it was hard to contemplate the President at the time while bombarded with conflicting views from my family and other sources (like liberal teachers at school and the general media). However, in retrospect, I have seen why Reagan has become a symbol for the new conservative movement. This is brought to light in his speeches presented here, including his undying drive to allow people to be proud again.
Many of these speeches I have seen before in news bytes and other forms, but rarely held with such reverence. And as a man pushing 40 now, I can understand the nuances of the politics of the 80s more than I did when I was a naive and headstrong teenager.
The most impressive thing about these clips presented in this video is how remarkably personable Reagan was in his delivery. There has not been a President in my lifetime that could transcend the stiff, stuffy presentation of a debate or Oval Office delivery than Reagan could. Clinton had charisma, but nothing like Reagan did. No wonder the man had record-breaking victories in both his elections, and no wonder that both George Bushes had such a time trying to live up to him.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As nice as it is to actually see a favorable presentation of a conservative icon, I was not impressed at all with the presentation of this video. From a documentary standpoint, this only went about 35% of where it needed to go.
The production seemed needlessly low-rent, utilizing only a fraction of what could have been. A quick look at the credits shows that the film and photos from this video were provided by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and that makes sense. It looked like producer/director Robert Kline simply used what he could without going to other resources.
Where are the interviews? Where are the candid conversations? Where are the accolades that contemporary and past conservative leaders would heap on Ronald Reagan? Perhaps these were left out to deliver a documentary that could be perceived as more moderate? But that doesn’t quite wash when the production company is called “Enduring Freedom Productions, Inc.” Otherwise, this just seems like a lazy effort at times.
If you want to see a comprehensive compilation of Reagan’s speeches, you’ll get it here. But you won’t get much else.
No features are included on this disc.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who love and respect Ronald Reagan. But this isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion if they’re a lifelong Democrat.