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Big Brother’s White House

Fuori concorso – The Reagan Show

Big Brother’s White House

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We’ve seen the President of the United States fight terrorists on a plane (Air Force One), face a seaquake (Deep Impact), court Annette Bening (The American President), be embroiled in both sides of scandals as well as being involved in corruption for the greater good (JFK, Nixon, Lincoln), and even starring in at least two shows that changed the TV landscape (The West Wing and 24). To date, however, we’d never seen him in a reality show that he himself asked for: The Reagan Show, a documentary by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, digs into the archive footage commissioned by the Presidency, the first to professionally document every step of the most powerful man in the world, a sort of 24/7 White House TV. The decision to unearth and show this footage is brilliant: perhaps for the first time we can truly see and understand Ronald Reagan, an actor who started working in the 1930s but received his most important part in the ‘80s, and treated it as such. It wasn’t to exercise power, but rather out of compliance to a template demanded by the American people, multinationals and both political and economical lobbies reminiscent of the current Donald Trump era. At its core, though, the film isn’t political, but human and communicative. It’s fascinating to watch this Candide who waltzes through history with a suave and often unwitting smile, talk about anti-nuclear space programs while un-ironically saying “Star Wars” and “The Force is with us”, as well as replacing Kissinger’s Chinese ping-pong diplomacy with a New Year’s greeting sent in 1985 to Mikhail Gorbachev, whose media success he truly and regretfully envied. Perhaps the secret behind saving the world from a (possibly just postponed) nuclear disaster is more cinematic than we thought. It was all in the hands of two actors, always smiling, often exploited by their centers of power, perhaps a bit slobbish, but certainly capable of handling things with a toast when others before them failed. All very 1980s, like their wives’ hairstyles.

Boris Sollazzo
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