Movie review: The War Room (1993)

Initially excited to watch a documentary covering strategy during the 1992 Clinton campaign, I quickly became disappointed. The documentary consists entirely of raw footage from embedded filmmakers. (It’s not clear why or how a film team came to be embedded in the Clinton campaign from the primary through election day.)

I expected a coherent narrative that explained the footage I was seeing and its significance. Instead, bits and pieces of footage were stitched together in a chronological sequence, but I was left trying to figure out why I was watching Carville and Stephanopoulos walking down the street. Again. And again. The documentary felt very disjointed and voyeuristic to me.

The documentary raises issues that arose during the Clinton campaign—some I remembered at the time, some I didn’t—such as his 12 year affair with Gennifer Flowers, controversy over Clinton traveling to Moscow in 1970, and Jerry Brown not speaking at the convention. People from the past popped up in the video or audio: Jerry Brown, Gwen Ifill (who passed away in November…miss you, Gwen!), Dee Dee Myers, Al Gore, Ann Richards, Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton—and the voice of Andrea Mitchell.

The focus of the documentary is on James Carville, the great strategist, and George Stephanopoulos, the Communication Director. These two are legendary. The documentary left me wondering why. Nothing I saw or heard enhanced them in my eyes. On the contrary, they looked rather less than I remember.

The movie was like watching sausage-making and then having to eat the sausage. It was very unappetizing and hard to digest. This was not the documentary I thought it would be. I walked away not understanding more but rather thinking less of anyone involved in that campaign.


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