Welcome to Oliver Stone’s history 101, where Vietnam looked a lot like Florida, and JFK was killed by a conspiracy so large it included the mafia, FBI, CIA, the Teamsters, and two bag ladies on Pennsylvania Avenue. Hollywood has always tinkered with history, but Oliver Stone performs reconstructive surgery. Nixon is no exception to this rule. It is much easier to view the film more as a character study than an historical piece. The film has you believe that Nixon used the F word more times than Richard Pryor on a roll, hated most of his advisors, and also had a hand in the JFK ordeal. The film also sports more artsy camera angles than a season of Batman. The true life-blood of the film is without any doubt Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins nailed Nixon like no actor before. From his stooped stance to his shuffled walk, he becomes ol’ Tricky Dick.
This Edition of Nixon includes the Director’s Cut of the film… with 28 minutes of additional footage not seen in the theatrical or original DVD release. If you can handle sitting through this 212 minute version, you will enjoy the extra footage.
“Anthony Hopkins electrifies the screen as Nixon in the acclaimed hit from controversial director Oliver Stone! Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, Nixon takes a riveting look at a complex man whose chance at greatness was ultimately destroyed by his passion for power – when his involvement in conspiracy jeopardized the nation’s security and the presidency of the United States! With a phenomenal all-star cast, featuring Ed Harris, James Woods and Joan Allen, Nixon is powerful motion picture entertainment you don’t want to miss!” – Buena Vista
Nixon is presented with two separate audio tracks… a DTS audio track, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The DTS track is much better… with stronger base and surround presence then the Dolby Digital track. The movie is dialogue heavy on both tracks, and attempts to make its point through exposition more than drama. There is the occasional exceptional use of ambient sounds, most notably in the crowd scenes where Nixon is pressing the flesh. The score is by John Williams and although certainly far from his best work, it helps to liven an otherwise dead sounding film.
Nixon is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is good but the cinematography is quite uneven. The picture often changes from soft to harsh, from sharp to jagged, and with unsettling frequency and abruptness. The high quality of the transfer actually does more to highlight this style. The colors are for the most part true. There is a lot of grain in the print, most noticeable in the dark smoky rooms. Blacks are mostly true and detailed.
This Collector’s Edition offers more features then the original bare-bones release of Nixon, but it still does not warrant the 2-Disc release it got this time around. Disc one of this set includes two screen specific audio commentaries by Oliver Stone. Both commentaries are overwhelmed by gaps of silence… with the first covering the actors and the production, and the second featuring the political history of Nixon. These tracks were far from effective, especially because of the gaps of silence.
On disc two, you get MORE Nixon with a 11 deleted and extended scenes, a 5 minute featurette featuring interviews with the cast and crew, and an hour long Charlie Rose Interview which probes into the story and film. This disc is presented with a very nice set of animated menus… a large step up from the previous release.
Nixon is as complicated and frustrating as the man himself. There are wonderful elements, particularly in the acting, but it gets spoiled by being too caught up in itself. Maybe we get Oliver Stone to reassure us with: “I am not a crook”.