All the President's Men [Blu-Ray] Alan J. Pakula

All the President's Men [Blu-Ray] Alan J. Pakula
When All the President's Men was released, the Watergate scandal was still fresh in the minds of the American public, who had been inundated with news stories about the "Watergate Seven" and Nixon's various denials and rebuttals of knowledge, leading up to his resignation. Resultantly, the project was met with scepticism from studios and critics that presumed the film would denigrate fact through Hollywood glamour or merely retread an already familiar tale didactically. What they didn't anticipate was the level of commitment by producer and star Robert Redford in ensuring the story of journalists Bob Woodward (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) be handled with class, respect and most of all, accuracy. With a committed cast and master conspiracy director Alan J. Pakula at the helm, the film follows the young reporters from incidental coverage of a seemingly minor break-in at the National Democratic Party headquarters through to their efforts to uncover the web of intrigue behind the Committee to Re-Elect the President. It stops just as Nixon is re-elected, avoiding any sort of triumphant catharsis and maintaining the quiet, realist, quotidian trajectory of the film, making the message about the power of traditional newspaper media and underdog determination the focus. This lack of stylization and trend-driven narrative compartmentalization keeps this political story vital beyond its time, holding up as a compelling, convincing thriller to this day. The slow building sense of paranoia, heightened by Pakula's use of deep focus and crane shots, deepens the facts and characterizations, showing Woodward and Bernstein's gradual awareness that "people" may be watching and listening. It is never exploited through chase scenes or scare tactics; rather, it exists through eye-lines and shot composition. The high definition Blu-Ray transfer captures this specific aesthetic sense in ways the DVD never could. Along with this visual upgrade, the Blu-Ray comes with a feature-length documentary about the making of the film, the subjects and mysterious informant "Deep Throat." Featuring interviews with all of the key actors and the people they portray, this supplement sheds substantial light on the climate of the times and the hurdles they had to jump to get the film made. There is also a poorly written booklet included, along with a commentary track by Robert Redford and an interview with Jason Robards on daytime talk show Dinah! As an aside, I recommend doing a double-bill of this with Andrew Fleming's underappreciated "Deep Throat" satire, Dick. (Warner)