Yesterday, I got a chance to view the advance screening of Stephen K. Bannon's new movie about Sarah Palin at the AMC theater in Highlands Ranch. Of course, this is the umpteenth review of the movie, so even die hard Undefeated-review-readers are likely to tire of reading yet another one. And the "I-won't-review-the-movie-because-others-have-done-so-ad-nauseum-so-here-are-my-unique-thoughts" meme is wearing out too. But gosh dang it, this movie is worthy of being reviewed and I'm not going to give up my chance to do it just because a handful of big wig conservatives and snotty first-in-the-nation Iowans (I kid, half my family is from Iowa) got to see it first. And besides, I do indeed have some unique insights.... so, here goes.
I admit, like many people, even Palin fans, I originally expected the movie to be a fluffy propaganda-type piece: heavy on emotion, light on facts. "Sure," I thought, "Palin fans will love this movie. Everyone else will respond with a giant 'meh'." But then I started to read the reviews that were coming out. I read about Democrats who came out of the theater weeping. I saw the post-movie interviews of people saying, in essence, "Oooooh, now I get it. I wasn't supporting Palin before, but now I am." I began to realize that the movie was going to be something special, something that hadn't really ever been done before.
In case you have hitherto managed to avoid all "Undefeated" reviews up to this point, I'll summarize it quickly. Acceptance speech, outrageous attacks from the media. Freeze. Flash back to Palin's childhood. Home video, basketball, photo montage. An hour of wonky coverage of everything Palin accomplished in her political career. The campaign. The rising poll numbers when she was chosen as VP. The falling poll numbers when the economy tanked and McCain suspended the campaign. The frivolous ethics complaints, the resignation of the governorship for the good of Alaska. The birth of the Tea Party. The fight of 2010. The victories of 2010. The Wisconsin speech. Game on!
Sounds like kind of ho-hum, regular political stuff, right? Especially if you've already read Going Rogue? Nothing could be further than the truth. The only part that seemed a little bit out of kilter with what I'd read was the media attacks at the beginning of the film. This, of course, was due to the fact that we were watching the PG-13 version. Unfortunately the heavily edited portion of the film didn't deliver quite the impact that the unedited version would have portrayed - but I'm told the final DVD version will put the full force of the venom on display. Don't get me wrong; it was still shocking - just not quite as bad as it could have been.
The interesting thing about what should have been long, dry stretches of the film was that they weren't. Although the documentary-style chronicling of Palin's accomplishments should have been dreary, it was instead spell-binding. It was amazing to watch this woman work her magic on the political process, felling entrenched bureaucrats and corrupt oil execs with a simple glance, inspiring and empowering the people of Alaska to strive for their own good, and unleashing the economic boom of energy development. It was wonky - and yet it scratched the one itch that the American public has still been yearning for. It's the reason that, love her or hate her, Palin articles blow others out of the water when it comes to clicks and views. "The Undefeated" tells the story that should have been told by the mainstream media, but never was, when she first became the vice-presidential nominee. The story of who exactly Sarah Palin is, what she did in Alaska and later the lower 48, how she did it, and why she still does it today.
One of the other things that made this movie so great were the speeches that we have all seen, now interspersed with history and background material. Watching these montages, you understand exactly why Palin said what she said, based on her history in Alaskan politics, and everything falls into place. I had read both of Palin's books and have been following and reading everything about her since I got a break from the midterms in 2010, but nothing quite gave me the full picture of who she is like this film did. In fact, the audience watching it with me broke into spontaneous applause many times during the re-showing of Palin's speeches, because now more so than ever, we understood where Palin was coming from and what she was up against.
When the film started, there was a brief moment of doubt. Would this thing live up to what it was supposed to be? But it built all the way throughout, and at the end there was no doubt. There was no more argument, no more questioning. This was the way America was supposed to be. This must have been how it felt in Reagan's day (I was only a kid). This was what America could be again. The contrast with Obama's feeble and destructive policies was so apparent that it wasn't even worthy of mention. It felt like, emerging from the movie, that you had grasped a glimpse of the true America, the real world, the promised land, and that you were re-entering the dim existence of the corrupt and slavish world of a nation yearning to breathe free. By the end of the movie, you had a quiet confidence in what was right for America. You understood and were prepared for when the time came to rise up and restore America. And you began to plan your every day for the moment it would arrive. You understood why lefties left the film in tears, why the mainstream media could find nothing to mock about this movie, why people were converted to Palin supporters instantly on viewing the movie. It was a vision, akin to Galt's Gulch, of the most perfect system of government and governance possible this side of heaven. And that wasn't an idle boast or a hope-and-changey placebo. It was a real vision of what America was once, what it could be, and what it yet will be on the day when it is restored to its former greatness.
Fair warning: if you go see this movie, it will change you. If you do not, you may remain blissfully ignorant, but blissful only in the sense that you have not seen the sun outside of Plato's cave, and that you are unaware of your own misery and ignominy. But those who have seen the film will comprehend people, places, and events in a way you will not. View it at your own risk. Should you choose to view it, you can never go back. You will live, along with your fellow countrymen, in anticipation of the fundamental restoration of America to the values that once made it hard-working and honest, friendly and welcoming, proud and free. In short, a return to the land of liberty and justice for all.