April 21, 2021

Berlinale 2019: When the echo of Nixon resonates in Trump | Culture

Berlinale 2019: When the echo of Nixon resonates in Trump | Culture

At no time during the more than four hours of the documentary Watergate, of two-time Oscar nominee Charles Ferguson, the name of Donald Trump is heard. That is the best decision of the filmmaker, who need not stress that his film is released at this time to remember the previous term of a liar president who committed several crimes from the Oval Office of the White House. However, the subtitle of the film –How we learned to stop a president out of control, in homage to the original title of Red phone? We fly to Moscow- and the quote that closes the 260 minutes of footage – "The people who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it" – they do explain their subsequent intention on the part of their creator, and hence their echo at the European premiere, at the Berlinale, on Monday of his new job.

Ferguson chronicles in detail the presidency of Richard Nixon with different materials: television images of the time, current interviews with everyone who participated in that process – except Kissinger, all possible witnesses appear (senators, congressmen, lawyers, journalists, FBI agents …) -, and the use of the 3,400 hours of recordings made by Richard Nixon in the Oval Office during his five years as president. These recordings are reproduced with actors in a fictional manner: first, the viewer listens to a few seconds of the original audio and later sees his recreation; Ferguson assures that the words have not been retouched or altered. There may be nothing surprising, however, it is still shocking watch Nixon say and order such atrocities.

Watergate It begins with a review of the events -mainly the Vietnam War- that led Richard Nixon to win the 1968 elections. Bob Woodward -that together Carl Bernstein they investigated the Watergate for The Washington Post- He tells the camera that he was a Republican and that he voted for Nixon, because he felt that he was the only one who would put order and remove the US from the Asian war. In the recordings you hear from the beginning a wild Nixon, who wants to attack all "those Jews" who ran the main US media, and pose ideas as crazy as kidnapping the most popular artists and celebrities who opposed to their mandate, drug them and abandon them on the border with Mexico. In September 1971 Nixon pressured his assistants to attack the Democrats with whatever. And there begins the domino effect that would end his career.

The initial spigot starts with the raid of the national headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office complex at dawn on June 17, 1972. Five men were arrested, who had charged or had a relationship with the Committee for the presidential re-election of Nixon, the CREEP. The investigation was carried out by the FBI – whose associate director, Mark Felt, will be the deep Throat of Woodward and Bernstein, the two young reporters from The Washington Post who also sensed that the money and contacts of the thieves will reach the White House. That's why Nixon tried to use the CIA to control the FBI, without success.

However, all these murky news does not prevent him from winning – in fact, razing – in the next presidential elections of November 1972. Here begins the second part, and the most entertaining of the documentary, based more on Nixon's press conferences, in which the trial for the raid on the Democratic office, the appointment of an independent investigator who will be constantly sabotaged by the White House, the testimony of John Dean – Nixon's counselor who will count on a Senate Committee all the presidential scams-, the publication of the List of enemies created by Nixon with more than 200 names of journalists, celebrities, athletes, politicians, associations (including one of Catholic students), media … And the revelation in June 1973 of the existence of those secret recordings.

Until his resignation in August 1974, Nixon saw the legal and political ceercus tightening around him. But he kept fighting: he even tried to torpedo the process of impeachment, of dismissal, already approved by the Congress in its route in the Senate. The top positions of his cabinet were falling (some of them appear today in the organizational chart of Trump), resigned Vice President Spiro Agnew – accused of charges for bribery – even the Republicans were faced with the president. Who will finally give up … taking the tapes and the forgiveness of his successor, Gerald Ford. As Woodward summarizes: "The Watergate was Nixon's war against the media, the Democrats, Justice and, finally, History."


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