“The candidate”

“The Candidate” (1972) is one of the famous and topical films about American politics. This is a movie-satire, which is based on a screenplay by Jeremy Larner and directed by Michael Ritchie. It is the so-called film-“message” which was aimed to show people a certain idea and to convey a message: the film touches the theme of political elections in America, which are one of the most controversial events in modern life of the society. Elections and election campaigns are not just controversial phenomenon, but a separate subject in political life of American society. The film covers the topics of corruption, deception, illusion and ideology of political processes of election campaigns and candidates themselves. Filmed over 30 years ago, this movie reveals the issues and themes that are also relevant today.

The film is the story of one political elections in the U.S., which shows how political candidates are “made” and how they are promoted to win. According to the plot, Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) is a specialist on elections, who is seeking a candidate to fight against the well-known Republican candidate, a California U.S. Senator Crocker Jarmon. Lucas finds a possible candidate Bill McKay (Robert Redford), who was young and attractive man, a lawyer with good reputation. In fact he is not interested in politics, despite the fact that he is the son of former governor John J. McKay (Melvyn Douglas). Bill McKay understands that he has no chances to unseat Crocker Jarmon, but he takes the proposition to take part in the elections because of his personal believes and aims: in particular, he wanted to speak to the audience on important problems of abortion rights, environmental regulation, and welfare.

Also Bill McKay doesn’t want to have unfair rules and wants to save his good reputation. In fact McKay counted on losing, but soon he is slowly in the game, and his handlers make all possible to push him to win. And then begins a game called “election campaign: Bill McKay has to make speeches that are written not by him and which do not answer his real believes and values; and he even agrees in the debates with his opponent to say pre-made answers. This debates becomes a significant moment in the history of “race” between candidates, which is more like a planned and rehearsed performance, rather than debates of real people with their real ideas and thoughts.

The story of Bill McKay is shown the essence of the electoral campaigns in modern political world. It is shown their illusory, untruthful nature, misleading and affectedness. In the era of the great influence of the mass media, candidates are just actors who play the roles of beautiful, intelligent and fair heroes for whom people should vote. The story of the “hero” of political elections was brilliantly played by Robert Redford.

“The candidate” is a brilliant satire which touches many problems and criticisms of modern American politics: unfair elections, deception of millions of voters, deceptive techniques and propaganda, the importance of money and many others. For that “The candidate” has not lost its importance and interest in modern political world.

Thus, the main theme and idea of the movie is to show the electoral campaign “as it is”. This topic is also touched in the book “We are the people” by Thomas E. Patterson. In his book the author gives full and very lively narrative introduction to American politics and government. He gives deep understanding of the political life and events in the American society, explains and critically evaluates the problems raised. In the chapter “Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns” Thomas E. Patterson touches the topic of candidates and political campaigns, which is close to the “The candidate” movie. The book also criticize modern electoral processes, when candidates and other participants are concerned to raise money, to raise their popularity with the help of mass media and propaganda. Both the book and the movie are very interesting and informative for the audience to understand and know better the essence of political life in modern world.


Works cited:
Canby V. “The candidate”. N.Y. Times (June 30, 1972). Web.
Patterson Thomas E. We the People: A Concise Introduction to American Politics. McGraw-Hill 2007


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