“Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
-Richard M. Nixon,1974
William Shakespeare once wrote that “All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players…” This all-encompassing statement is true of everyday life and common circumstances where we, as individuals, perform certain roles to the betterment of ourselves and possibly of others. Much of our lives are performed on one small stage after another in the view of few others. However, imagine if one of those stages was in the clear view of not only the American people but an extremely international audience as well. And imagine that there are only two people on the stage and that every thing that you (on that stage) say and do will be replayed time and again for historical purposes.
Such is the idea behind Ron Howard’s new motion picture “Frost/Nixon.”
The film, an adaptation of the play, recounts one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) interviews of all time. In one corner of the verbally contentious matchup was former President Richard M. Nixon, three years after his resignation from the White House. In the other corner was David Frost, a British talk show host known more for his romantic rather than interviewing, prowess. In the film, Nixon attempts to use the interviews to improve his image and Frost attempts to use them to get to know Nixon and to ultimately see if he can be the one to get the 37th President of the United States to admit guilt in the Watergate affair, the series of events that ultimately brought about Nixon’s resignation.
As with so many films based off true events, there is some elaborating in the film and editing that would make viewers question what really happened and if everyone’s motives in the film were as clear in real life, where such clear and obvious motives are hard to find. Disappointingly, one of the key scenes in the movie that sets the stage for the final interview session was completely made up. (So stated Peter Morgan, the screenwriter of the film in a panel discussion held last night at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. following an early screening of the movie). That provocative scene sets the stage for the ultimate climax of the movie, the interview session between Frost and Nixon that is focused on the Watergate break-in and cover-up. In that regard, the film itself is tarnished by its liberal use of the facts for storytelling purposes.