Friday, April 07, 2006


When I first started as a hematologist I had so little to do that I used to got to the movies in the afternoon. Business soon built up and for most of my career I have too much work. Now in semi-retirement I occasionally have time to put on a video in the afternoon, so while my wife was watching a wartime drama by Noel Coward starring John Mills, I sneaked off into teh other room to watch Oliver Stone's Nixon.

I can understand why Anthony Hopkins was nominated for an Oscar for this performance. He is seldom of the screen, and gives a tremendous exhibition of acting. This is not mimickry; he does not look at all like Nixon, but he captures the man behind the face. To do the part justice demands an actor reared on the Shakespearean stage. He makes Nixon into a figure not too distant from Macbeth. I would have thought it were impossible to make Nixon at all sympathetic, but Hopkins turns him into a figure of tragedy by revealing the greatness in the man that was hidden by compromises with integrity that he made while climbing the greasy pole. History will judge hime more kindly than his contempories, says one character. It depends on who writes the history, quips back Nixon.

The movie, alas was not as good as the performance. It needed a better writer.


Anonymous said...

Nixon is indeed a tragic figure, and one who has not only spawned a movie, but an opera (!) Nixon in China.

Nixon was regarded as one of the most brilliant presidents ever, but his deep-seated inferiority complex colored his actions and his motivations for his entire life.

I know of few people who engendered so much admiration and hate as RMN.

In some ways, he was a great president (finding a good way out of Vietnam, turning over the fighting to a US-funded South Vietamese force (later undercut by Democrats)), and opening relations with China, and a less-than-effective president (wage and price controls instead of fighting inflation by raising interest rates as Reagan did).

BTW, one of the criticisms of Nixon that affects the way I think of the man, is that he may have terribly neglected his very loyal and loving wife, Pat. I don't know if it was true or not, and of course no one other than those two (both deceased) knew the total story. But to hurt someone who was so loving and loyal is not a good sign.

RC said...

Hopkin's really is such a phenemonal actor.

--RC of