“All the President’s Men”: what can I say? It’s the action film that swapped guns for typewriters and bullets for ink. It’s the action film that proved white collar crime can be just as exciting as cold-blooded murder. It’s the action film whose true events inspired generations of future investigative journalists and filmmakers alike. It’s the action film that won four Academy Awards. And it’s the action film that you need to see, if for no other reason than the fact that watching two unlikely heroes take down a criminal president is uniquely American. And that watching a man, a woman and pen and paper change the course of events is, well, cool.
You, the viewer, will follow the story of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. They’re two of the journalists responsible for exposing the events of Watergate. Watergate was a political scandal in the seventies. Several burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee, which is a building within a large group of buildings in Washington, DC. They were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they were looking for documents and trying to wiretap phones. President Nixon took great lengths to cover up the robbery, but as you’ll see, two journalists made sure that the American public knew the truth. They battle their board of editors, chase sources, collect evidence and publish their findings.
This film is both a masterclass in journalistic integrity and immersion through ultra-realism. That’s making the audience feel like a part of the story by making the story look like the real thing. You’ll experience wide shots that make you feel as though you are watching the characters through binoculars. And that you, yourself, are being watched by someone else. You’ll experience the kinds of high-intensity situations that journalists do. The camera will constantly be giving you all sorts of information to comb through. You’ll be exposed to scribbled notes you can’t seem to read fast enough. You’ll listen to conversations you can’t quite hear. You’ll be frustrated alongside the characters as they struggle to hear interviewees over the phone because people are working in the background, too. Just like you. Another special camera lens will make you nearsighted. You’ll be able to see two characters in perfect focus at the same time, even when they’re seen from two very different distances. It’s up to you who you watch more. The newsroom you’re plopped into was carefully reconstructed by set designers to be as identical to the real thing as possible, down to exact measurements and the same model of work desks. The papers scattered about are real trash from the Washington Post’s offices. At some point during the film, you’ll start to feel like the third journalist within this power duo. It’s an uncommon audience experience, and you’ll want to take part in it.
In a time where love for your country had to outweigh criticism of it, exposing the president was off-limits. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s actions proved that no one was above the law, even the commander of it. They secured the future ability of the media to uncover important truths about the most powerful of people. That’s huge. So, if you want, give it a watch. Feel like a journalist for a couple of hours. Live a different life. If for no other reason, try it out because any action film that swaps the intensity of the car chase opener for the intensity of the clacking typewriter is worth watching.