Thursday, June 14, 2012
HBO airs "41", documentary biography of George H. W. Bush; he talks about himself.
Well, Jeffrey Roth’s new HBO Documentary “41”, shows that you can make a reasonably effective film by having someone sit in a chair – in his summer home, perhaps – and talk about himself, recall his life.
That’s what George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States does in this 100 minute film. He looks pretty weathered and tired now, and in recent years his profile has been low.
His account of his WWII service as a naval aviator is interesting; he was shot down once, parachuted, and was rescued by a submarine. Afterwards, once he was at Yale at met and married Barbara, you lose the sense that he’s paid his dues. He notes that he couldn’t live in his particular housing of choice without at least one child.
Like many biographies, the film gives a synopsis of history for sixty years or so, particularly the Reagan years when Bush was vice president. The assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981 is shown, and Bush was almost president then.
The second half of the film does cover Bush’s one term as president, with particular emphasis on how he handled the fall of the Berlin Wall. There was a risk of drawing in the Soviets into European conflict had he overpressed. He then moved on to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, leading to the First Persian Gulf War.
The 1992 election, where he lost to Bill Clinton, is sparsely covered. His “accident” when he became ill at a state dinner in Japan in early 1992 isn’t covered. He is shown turning over the White House to Bill Clinton in 1993, but no mention is made of the debate that would soon erupt over gays in the military.
Washington is often shown with snow in the film, even on days that I know were dry, such as the day of Bill Clinton’s inauguration and parade, which I attended.
Wikipedia attribution link for Bush home in Kennebunkport, ME, Walker’s Point, which the film says has been damaged twice by hurricanes. I saw it once in June 1995.
I guess we could draw an amusing comparison to Lionsgate's "W." (2008), about "son" George W. Bush (Oliver Stone's film).