Film Review: Gore Vidal – The United States of Amnesia

The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent.  – Gore Vidal

By Ken Sheetz


The first film for my new consciousness film blog page is the new documentary about the extraordinary life of an extraordinary writer and liberal political commentator, Gore Vidal.

For those of you who are not a baby boomer like myself, Gore Vidal was a creative, passionate, bright light of reason and considered to be the last lion of liberalism. Gore burst onto the public scene in the 60s, seemingly all at once in books, TV appearances, and screenwriting. Against his own upper class childhood, Gore spoke out loud and clear and consistent on the issues plaguing an American political system taken over by corporations.

When all were praising JFK, Gore spoke of our country’s epic slide into decadence starting with Kennedy’s ill-fated invasion of Cuba that led the world to the brink of an all-out Nuclear war. Gore was also outspoken on Kennedy sending 20,000 troops to Vietnam. A JFK blunder that would launch a war that would claim the lives of 58,000 baby boomers and maim mentally and physically countless others.

After JFK’s death, Gore imagined that if the iconic Kennedy had not been assassinated that he would have proven no better than LBJ in escalating the Vietnam War. Amazingly, the harsh look at JFK was Gore’s criticism for a president he liked and who was blessed to personally experience life in John and Jackie Kennedy’s inner circle. Sadly we, longer see this kind of brilliant objectivity in any major media people of this era of dumbed down news as entertainment.

Gore’s liberalism carried into his personal life as one of the first popular voices of the Gay movement.  In his Hollywood years, Gore became a magnet for brilliant intellectual parties with buddy Paul Newman.

Young documentary filmmaker Nicholas Wrathall became interested in Gore’s famed 911 pamphlets that took the controversial POV that America had brought destruction on itself and that the Neocons used to the fear of future attacks to negate the constitution. And Gore took a liking to the young filmmaker giving Wrathall full access to his life and life’s work.

He tells Gore’s life story with masterful brilliance that goes beyond Moore’s as he respectfully stays behind the camera.  Nicholas first shows us Gore’s family roots as member of elite society.  We meet his Senator grandfather who Gore was a page to and his brilliant aviator father who was an adviser to the president.  And we learn of his tumultuous relationship to his estranged mother.

On this firm foundation Nicholas then takes us on a journey through Gore Vidal’s brilliant life, a life that ended in his eighties. He lived long enough to see his prophetic warnings about America’s decline to perpetual war machine come sadly to life.

Throughout the telling of Gore’s epic life, where he mingled with all the greats of his time from the world’s top film, literary and politicos, secluded as a self-imposed exile in Italy in mountain villa. Gore held court like a king media.

Footage is gathered from a wide variety of sources, including filmmaker/nephew Burr Steers and the late Christopher Hitchen.  Nicholas blends this seamlessly with footage from Vidal’s legendary on-air debate with ultra conservative William F. Buckley and other footage from Gore’s time in the media spotlight from the 60s to his passing in 2012.

And Gore remained outspoken until his dying day as one of the first people to see through the insincerity of Obama.

I rate  film five-stars, my highest recommend.  I saw the film with my beautiful 45-year-old and 27-year-old friends at the Mary Fisher fine arts film theater for a one-time screening, thus giving us three generations’ POV when we discussed it after over wine at the Hopi here in Sedona.  All three of us agreed the Vidal doc is a truly marvelous tool for freeing of the mind.  It shows you what the mainstream does not want to show you: America has become modern war machine killing the planet with war driven over-consumption that stays in power by use of brainwashing and sheer brute force that would make George Orwell blush.

This movie, like its subject, Gore Vidal, takes on the establishment or the Matrix as many in today’s PC-neutered lingo describe it today, so you won’t likely be seeing this film at your local theater.  I suggest getting the DVD and hosting a private screening party.  You’ll have lots to talk about after about the sorry state of America and the world in general.

Unlike Gore I do have hope for humanity.  The wheel is turning.  More of us that are grounded in reality are awakening to the higher realms.  Replacing the old regime with new idealists is not enough.  We must and shall transcend the old as we create a better world in harmony with nature.

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