Looking back, the character base developed in The Wizard of Oz has become the “golden standard” for some of the most iconic science fiction/fantasy plot lines that would follow its release: a brave heroine conquers the ruler of an evil kingdom with the help of friends in a far off foreign world. And while the details of such “good versus evil” stories can vary, such as the likes of Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, one thing rings true in all of them: the earth would surely perish without women.
MGM’s Forbidden Planet is glittering midcentury eye candy, a 1950s pulp magazine cover come to life. It’s amazingly entertaining stuff, but modern viewers are going to find a darker and more sex-obsessed film than they might have been expecting. Like all sci-fi films, it tells us much more about the era in which it was made than it does about the future it tries to imagine. Released in 1956, when the United States was at the zenith of its political and cultural power, the movie wears this optimism on its (military) sleeve.
I’m the very definition of the post-Watergate generation. I was born just weeks before Nixon’s resignation, and when I was a half-year old my family moved to Washington D.C. to work for a Congressman that they’d help elect.
A year later we moved away after the Congressman was caught soliciting a prostitute and resigned. So, my view of politics is, shall we say, dim.
Which is why I love films like All the President’s Men that dive straight into the grim, slimy world of politics and the slow, detailed work necessary to expose it. So much of what Woodward and Bernstein did was led by hunches, research and thoughtfulness — not exactly an action-packed thrill ride of guns, chases and beatings. But the film is relentlessly gripping and engaging. Redford and Hoffman are at their primes and Pakula’s direction is surgeon precise.
If you can, follow up this movie with Pakula’s previous film, The Parallax View, which might be the best fictional conspiracy film ever. It might make you feel better after seeing all the real-world conspiracies in President’s Men.