War Room

War Room

5.0 1
Director: Chris Hegedus, Christopher Hughes, D.A. Pennebaker

Cast: Chris Hegedus, Christopher Hughes, D.A. Pennebaker, James Carville

     
 

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A look inside the 1992 presidential race, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedgus' documentary The War Room explores the backstage side of national politics by examining the day-to-day operations of Bill Clinton's campaign staff. The behind-the-scenes leader of the group is James Carville, the demonstrative, charismatic campaign manager who relies on a plain-speakingSee more details below

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Overview

A look inside the 1992 presidential race, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedgus' documentary The War Room explores the backstage side of national politics by examining the day-to-day operations of Bill Clinton's campaign staff. The behind-the-scenes leader of the group is James Carville, the demonstrative, charismatic campaign manager who relies on a plain-speaking manner and emotional appeals to motivate his subordinates. He is complemented by the quieter, smoother personality and photogenic looks of young press spokesman George Stephanopoulous. The filmmakers follow these two contrasting personalities from the January New Hampshire primary to Clinton's eventual victory, as they attempt to cling to an overall strategic plan while dealing with unforeseen problems and negative press, as their candidate is saddled with accusations of adultery and draft-dodging. Subplots include the rivalries between Democratic campaign staffs -- which can become amusingly petty, as when they accuse each other of tearing down campaign posters -- and the romantic relationship between Carville and Mary Matalin, chief strategist for George Bush's campaign. Co-director D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back, Primary) is renowned as an innovator in the use of cinema-verite, used here to show both the mundane complications and the emotional highlights of the modern political process.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
In one of The War Room's most emblematic moments, political guru James Carville offers a contrast between Bill Clinton's campaign for president, which he's managing, and that of incumbent George Bush. "We're saying 50 plus 50 equals 104; they're saying 50 plus 50 equals 104 thousand!" quips the Ragin' Cajun. The comment is telling not because he's slamming Bush, but because he's freely admitting that his own team fudges the facts as well. It's a basic acknowledgement that minor ethical compromise is a necessary evil to elevating a superior candidate to the country's highest office. But by merely cooperating with Chris Hedgus and D.A. Pennebaker's behind-closed-doors project, Carville not only forces himself to resist dirty politics, but his few demonstrated acts of sly manipulation are almost proof of full disclosure, much more honest-seeming than if he feigned spotlessness. It's a genius strategy, even though the PR generated by the movie probably had more effect writing the history than it did winning the election. Any successful documentary relies on some luck -- if Clinton had never made it out of New Hampshire, there would be no movie -- but it seems like shrewdness on the part of the husband-and-wife documentarists to identify that Carville could be one of the truly captivating real-life political characters, capable of propelling the movie through some of its inevitable ho-hum passages. George Stephanopoulos contributes somewhat less ostentatiously. Other than those provided by Carville, The War Room is generally lacking in zinger moments. But the complete package is pretty groundbreaking, representing unusual access to round-table gripe-and-plot sessions that had previously been shrouded in mystery. Few characters resonate beyond Carville and Stephanopoulos, with the possible exception of the candidate himself -- seen only in dribs and drabs, but also deserving credit for his openness to the intrusion.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/20/2012
UPC:
0715515091916
Original Release:
1993
Rating:
PG
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:36:00
Sales rank:
965

Special Features

Return of the War Room, a 2008 documentary by Hegedus and Pennebaker in which advisers James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala, and others reflect on the effect that the Clinton war room had on the way campaigns are run; New pieces in which the filmmakers discuss the difficulties of shooting in teh campaign's fast-paced environment; Panel discussion hosted by the William J. Clinton Foundation, featuring Carville, Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, journalist Ron Brownstein, and surprise guest Bill Clinton; Interview with strategist Stanley Greenberg on the evolution of polling; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by writer Louis Menand

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- War Room
1. Opening Credits [2:17]
2. New Hampshire [2:58]
3. Gennifer Flowers [4:30]
4. The Ragin' Cajun Explains the Stakes [3:23]
5. The Comeback Kid [5:02]
6. Fighting Back [2:59]
7. The Convention [6:09]
8. Perot Drops Out [5:19]
9. Little Rock, Arkansas [7:51]
10. Mary Matalin [4:25]
11. Printergate [11:15]
12. Perot Gets Back In [2:11]
13. The Debate [4:22]
14. Spinning Class [5:58]
15. "One More Day" [4:38]
16. Carville's Last Speech to the Troops [5:40]
17. Carville Concedes [3:19]
18. "Holy Shit" [4:43]
19. Writing the Speech [3:24]
20. Celebration [2:47]
21. End Credits [2:36]
22. Color Bars [:00]
Disc #2 -- War Room
1. Opening Credits [2:31]
2. Trouble in New Hampshire [9:26]
3. The Matalin-Carvilles [3:29]
4. The Man From Hope [7:16]
5. The Convention and the General [5:11]
6. The Structure of the War Room [5:18]
7. Political Combat [9:48]
8. The Opponents [5:40]
9. The Debate and the Spin Room [8:30]
10. How Campaigns Have Changed [8:27]
11. Winning [12:22]
12. The Carville Phone Tree [3:34]

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