Monday, 28 September 2020
Death of a President
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 01 November 2006 21:22

It is an event simultaneously dreaded and dreamed of by anyone who knows anything about politics. George W. Bush has to be one of the most controversial American President’s of all time. From his dubious election to his coining the phrase “War on Terrorism”, Bush has made a significant impact for better or worse on the face of our planet. So what would happen if he went the way of JFK? Death of a President attempts to answer that question, speculating the events surrounding a fictional assassination of George Bush Jr.

The year is 2007 and the President has just flown in to Chicago to give a speech. Protest groups and those supporting an anti-war message have escalated to a fever pitch and are rioting in the streets as police attempt to keep them under control. After being ushered into the hotel and delivering a successful speech, the President insists on a meet and greet with his guests despite the misgivings of his head of security. Shots are fired, mass confusion ensues and a manhunt begins that will shake the foundations of the American legal system.

The film is presented in the style of a television special and gets the flow of a news documentary down pat. Assembled using real footage of the president, cleverly inter-cut with interviews, newscasts and grainy surveillance camera footage to give an impression of authenticity.

Once the actual assassination has taken place we follow the investigation from an initial suspect list, through gathering the evidence that leads to a trial. It is here that the film brings up some tough issues, including the eagerness on the part of government to pin blame on Islamic terrorists.

I had a mixed reaction to this film. The concept is obviously going to cause a stir, no matter what the intentions of the filmmakers are. But is the film riding on the coattails of sensationalism to achieve a greater success than it deserves? There is no question that for its lack of budget the film has been doing exceptionally well, having won the critics’ prize at the Toronto International Film Festival. Perhaps the fact that it was banned from several theatre chains in the US will do even more to help it achieve cult status. It seems that censorship is still alive and well.
Controversial subject matter aside, this film isn’t deserving of such high praise. I admire any filmmaker willing to suffer the slings and arrows of a disapproving audience for their craft. But the important message is hidden beneath the terrible acting and a subplot straight out of Unsolved Mysteries. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Jack Palance as the host.

I would have liked to see more emphasize placed on the global aftereffects of the President’s death, rather than focusing on a handful of individuals. For instance, how would countries like North Korea react to a sudden lapse of the iron-fist? What would the repercussions be to soldier’s fighting abroad? Instead the focus narrows on the home front, leading us on a wild goose chase to find the fictional killer. The key word being “fictional”, which is why I find this the least important aspect of the film.

If you have strong feelings one way or another about George Dubya’, you’ll want to view this film out of curiosity. It’s a great concept that could have been improved. I give Death of a President 5 out of 10 stars.