Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Undefeated": From Right and Left, Part 1

From the Right
Like several other well-known Palinistas, I was invited to review "The Undefeated," a DVD of which was sent to my home. I also got to attend a screening of the film in New York City, and meet with several colleagues and three Organize4Palin Regional Coordinators in my New York State organization. The screening afforded me the opportunity to see the progress made since the rough-cut DVD.

The movie was born when Governor Palin approached Rebecca Mansour, a close aide of hers with the directive to request Stephen K. Bannon, a conservative film maker produce a video series documenting her accomplishments - specifically as Mayor of Wasilla, Chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and Governor of Alaska, before and after being chosen as John McCain's running mate in 2008. Gov. Palin also wanted to set the record straight about why she resigned office after serving 31 months of her term, a decision that perturbs some potential supporters. Bannon agreed on one condition: that it be a full-length feature movie and that Victory Film Group finance the $1 million cost.

This portion of her life alone accounts for the movie's two-hour running time. There simply was no room to include Gov. Palin's terms as a City Councilwoman, or her accomplishments as a sportscaster, in commercial fishing, on the hunting grounds, or as an athlete. These accomplishments would have required at least a second, possibly a third two-hour movie.

Bringing Gov. Palin's Accomplishments to Life

I had spent 18 months compiling Gov. Palin's Lifetime of Accomplishments into an online reference manual. In fact, the site that preceded and was re-directed to US for Palin was called "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's Accomplishments." Every month or so, the current Master List is updated. Jedediah Bila, who was at the 8 PM New York City screening along with Tammy Bruce said "it is one thing to read about Gov. Palin's accomplishments and another to see them brought to life on screen" by seeing processes, outcomes and eyewitness accounts. I concur. I know her accomplishments cold. But, this movie did a fantastic job in packaging and presenting them into a two-hour comprehensive course. To read the volumes of her accomplishments would take very much longer.

Viewers learned how Mayor Palin built Wasilla's infrastructure, developing what was essentially a "one horse town" into a bustling suburb, attracting major retailers, creating jobs, and building the city's economy. Viewers saw how Chairman Palin risked her own career and took on the GOP party chair who was involved in conflicts of interests at the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Seeing Gov. Palin's actual line item vetoes; seeing those trucks going up the ice road to Pt. Thomson; seeing all the work that went into Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share (ACES); and the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) is a lot different from merely reading thousands of words about them.

The movie also made painfully clear the forces arrayed against the former Alaska Governor, both from the left and the Republican establishment. Both are united in seething, evil hatred of Gov. Palin which was on full display in the unrated DVD and in the screening room. The theater version will have the more disturbing imagery and language obfuscated so the movie can get a PG-13 rating. Viewers saw first-hand how the barrage of frivolous ethics complaints, lawsuits and paperwork requests drove Gov. Palin to sacrifice her career for the good of Alaskans. The audio of hater extraordinaire Shannyn Moore egging on a caller who simply "wanted to be a pain ... to the governor" was a smoking gun indictment.

Viewers saw the sexism Gov. Palin endured throughout her political career and the parallels to President Ronald Reagan were striking and eerily Providential. One cannot walk away from that movie and not conclude that history is repeating itself. Her forebear too was Undefeated.



A Review from William E. Thomas, 89, WWII Veteran

William E. Thomas, who is the father figure in my life attended the 3:30 PM screening. He is a supporter of Gov. Palin's but was not familiar with her accomplishments, except for some details shared with him in conversations. After seeing the movie, he said,
"Sarah Palin is a genius! What she did in Alaska is awesome! But, the Democrats and Republicans alike fear her. She'll bring their corrupt dealings to light. It will be a whole new government if she gets in! She is one of a kind. Sarah Palin deserves to be President."
He can see that she is an existential threat to their way of doing business.

Having walked this planet for 89 years; having been a combat veteran in World War II; overcoming a war wound that left his left leg partially paralyzed; and having worked on tankers, freighters, and passenger liners subsequently, he is no stranger to salty language. He's seen and heard it all. About the evil hatred directed at Gov. Palin, William Thomas said "I was mortified to see that."

Cinematography

I am not a professional film reviewer of course, but I do edit and produce one-hour videos for my wife Elsy's weekly ballet instruction show on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and my editing has received good reviews. In other words, I know just enough about video editing and cinematography to be dangerous.

The Undefeated clearly is a professional production. The screening copy is significantly closer to being a finished product than the DVDs my colleagues and myself reviewed at home. Transitions are smooth, clean, and appropriate to the context. Further, the transitions' thematic elements make the movie emotionally powerful without being over-bearing or melodramatic. There were no artistic flaws, factual flaws, or "bloopers." The movie uses a fair amount of stock footage, which is typical of political documentaries, but the audience got some good hearty laughs out of some of the stock clips. The Director, Stephen K. Bannon, who I was privileged to meet, said some issues with lower third titles and music would be resolved in the final production version.

Getting Gov. Palin's Critics to the Theater

The true test of this movie's success will be getting those who do not particularly like Gov. Palin to the theater and filling seats. These are the people who need to see the movie and for whom the movie is intended. Any Palinista worth his or her salt should already know and be intimately familiar with Gov. Palin's accomplishments. Of course, as her supporters, we're going to like the movie. Why wouldn't we?

Yes, the movie wins minds and hearts. That's been documented already. I also saw it happen last night and will discuss it in Part 2. But, to win those minds and hearts, they must first be brought to the theater. The point is to bring in the independents, and those somewhat right or left of center who believe the fiction that has been spread about Gov. Palin over these past three years and/or simply do not know her record. In my opinion, the movie will succeed or fail not on winning minds and hearts, but on getting these people to the theaters in the first instance.


Organize4Palin and Team Sarah Literature Drop

Some 200 viewers to last night's screening received Organize4Palin Accomplishments brochures and palm cards brought by Jonathan Peress, Nassau County Coordinator and myself. Manhattan/Queens Coordinator LJ Regine, and Westchester Coordinator, Anna Marie Barone were also present and handing out literature. Team Sarah's Jackie Siciliano was present and handing out Team Sarah buttons, T-shirts and bumper stickers.
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