A Textual Analysis of Movie Director Oliver Stone's Nixon
Studies in History & Criticism of Film S. No.9
This critical analysis of director Oliver Stone's Nixon argues that the screenplay and film are early attempts in American cinema to put the life of Richard Nixon in proper historical perspective. Although known for his provocative and controversial approach in his films toward people and events of the 1960s and 70s in America, Stone has delivered an evenhanded account of the impact of Nixon on American history. Previous portrayals of Nixon in television and movie dramas had largely depicted Nixon as either the incarnation of evil or as an oddly comic character worthy of satirizing. Stone's film is one of the first to present Nixon properly as the brilliant, complicated and ultimately flawed geopolitical thinker that he was. This book is appropriate for anyone interested in the Cold War. American film, or popular art and politics and adds to the study of the media's depiction of history and historical figures.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"The enigma of Richard Nixon continues to intrigue and fascinate. In so many ways he seemed unsuited for a career as an elected official. In spite of his choice of a life in politics where the focus is election by popular vote, he was a man who seemed reclusive and brooding. At times he was condescending, yet on other occasions he seemed intimidated by what he considered the silver spoon, Harvard-educated elite. It is these types of Nixonian paradoxes that Russ Witcher explores in his analysis of the screenplay of Oliver Stone's film Nixon... Neither Russ Witcher nor Oliver Stone oversimplifies the character of Richard Nixon. One of the great values of Witcher's analysis of Stone's screenplay and the film itself is that Nixon comes across as the complex human being he was. The wide range of sources Witcher uses to augment his analysis of Stone's Nixon contribute to the equitableness of Witcher's analysis. While Witcher does not contend that Stone's film is the definitive portrait of Richard Nixon, he does conclude that for the most part, the film rings true. Witcher's analysis is a significant contribution toward a balanced view of Richard Nixon and the turbulent years of his presidency." - (from the Preface) Dr. Linda Null, Tennessee Technological University; "Dr. Russ Witcher continues his academic pursuit of analyzing media depictions of Richard Nixon and Nixon's influence on American history with the publication of his third book on this topic. In this book, Dr. Witcher takes the unusual step of praising Oliver Stone's portrayal of the former president in Nixon, a film that was largely excoriated by historians and pundits on both sides of the political spectrum and ignored by most American movie-goers. Dr. Witcher argues that this film is one of the first to examine Nixon's role in American life with an evenhanded perspective... Far too few political fims are intelligently made. Dr. Witcher is correct to attempt to remedy the oversight of most previous evaluations of Nixon." - Hix Stubblefield, Professor Emeritus, Tennessee Technological University "In his latest book, Dr. Russ Witcher extends his writings on Richard Nixon from his previous analyses of how Nixon was depicted in the press to the cinematic treatment of Nixon in Oliver Stone's Nixon. While admitting that the movie is not completely historically accurate. Dr. Witcher does a masterful job of demonstrating from the screenplay how Stone was able to convey the complexity of Nixon's character... In the process of making his textual analysis of the screenplay, Dr. Witcher teaches the reader a great deal about aspects of Nixon's character and policies that are not widely known... Dr. Witcher's study is a valuable contribution to scholarship on popular culture... [it] will enlighten not only scholars of film, but those interested in American history, psychology, foreign policy, and leadership theory." - Scott R. Smith, Ed.D., Professor of English and Chair. Enterprise-Ozark Community College"