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The War Room (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

James Carville , George Stephanopoulos , D.A. Pennebaker , Chris Hegedus    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back) and Chris Hegedus shot behind-the-scenes at command central for Bill Clinton's 1992 election campaign and came up with this film. You won't find the kind of daily damage-control and skirt-chasing indirectly alleged in Primary Colors, but the filmmakers do give us a strong sense of the uphill battle of a presidential campaign. The center of the film is really James Carville, who steered the machine for Clinton's '92 run and who comes across in this film as a deeply passionate, complex, and somehow timeless man who could have fit into any chapter of American history. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damage Control July 13 2004
"The War Room" is an interesting documentary that shows you just exactly what goes on behind the scenes of a presidential campaign and all of the problems that can arise. Mostly centered around the Clinton campaign, we get a look at a man who is determined to be the next President of the United States. James Carville and George Stephanopoulos are the main brains behind the campaign, and they show it with their rapid thinking and reactions. The road to the White House proves to be a bumpy one for Clinton and company, as scandals surface and tabloid articles flood the newsstands. The people behind the campaign of Bill Clinton never get a break as they always have to be on their toes and figure out damage control. Even though you know how it all ends, it is still a tense and shocking film.
What I love the most about this documentary is that there is no overall narrator, and there really isn't an agenda to it. The film doesn't force-feed you a likable Clinton. The film's real purpose is to show you what happens during these campaigns. Even though it's centered around Clinton, this film really could've been about anyone. The film doesn't sugarcoat anything as it gives you the raw footage and shows you how both sides can play dirty. It was amazing to watch Carville and Stephanopoulos work the way they did, as I had no idea how much of an important role they played in Clinton's campaign.
I think this documentary can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in how the system works. You really don't even have to like Clinton in order to enjoy it, as the film isn't trying to make it look like Clinton is a saint or anything like that. It is about how dirty people in these campaigns can fight, and it occurs on both sides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Look at Political Campaigns July 5 2004
I happened to catch this documentary as I was reading "My Life" by Bill Clinton, it brought to life all of the hustle and bustle of his first Presidental campaign.
The real people involved in Clinton's first campaign for President are better characters than most actors. James Carville and George Stephanopoulos are the main focus of this film and they are true heroes. Clinton has moments where he shows all of his Southern charm but the real workhorses are Carville and Stephanopoulos who brave polls, reporters and other anti-Clinton politicians. It is an insiders view on how a campaign is won or lost behind the scenes just as easily as in front of all America. But is does make you question if the person who ends up in office is all they are cracked up to be or just a puppet pulled by the strings attached to his campaign managers.
A great film to watch if you love politics or if you are reading Bill Clinton's book. It gives an honest representation of how the wheels spin and the tides change at a moments notice. This film will convince you that political campaigns are calculated almost as professionally as a war and can take on the same persona.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Documentary Wins in a Landslide Feb. 10 2004
The War Room is a documentary of the 1992 Clinton Presidential Campaign, beginning with the New Hampshire primary and ending on election night. Filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus have full access to all of the players, including Governor Clinton himself. But this film focuses very little on Clinton, spending the most time with James Carville, whose immense energy level propells this film from beginning to end. Other players are featured as well, including George Stepahopoulos, Paul Begala, Mary Matalin, and DeeDee Myers, among others.
This is a great documentary, and a must for students of political and election strategy. It shows how talented pros deal with polls, the press, schedules, scandals, and downtime. And it contains some golden moments, including a hilarious argument about posters at the convention, a tongue-in-cheek concession speech, and a speech by Carville to volunteers once the election was won. All told, The War Room is a pleasure to watch, and will serve as an important snapshot of political electioneering at the end of the 20th century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, but true. Sept. 22 2003
"The War Room" is a must-see for anyone interested in politics. Although Clinton campaign operative James Carville admits, "We changed the way campaigns are run," this historic documentary of modern-day politics is just a small glimpse into the inner workings of the Clinton-for-President Campaign in 1992.
After viewing the film, I asked, "Is that all there is?" (to win a presidential campaign). But in all honesty, I laughed, cried and cheered as I watched the film, enjoying every minute, except the end where I wanted to see a close up of the Clintons and Gores as they celebrated their election night victory from the statehouse stage in Little Rock. The end of the film seemed anti-climatic. No hype. No hoopla. And, that's where I expected the "big bang" -- news reports, TV election returns, headlines the morning after and lots and lots of partying to Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinkin' About Tomorrow)."
While I appreciated being a fly on the wall inside campaign headquarters and on the road, at times I felt like I was watching a high school or college student government campaign -- with all the joking and silliness that pervaded "The War Room." Much of the campaign "work" didn't really look like work on film because of campaign staffers' attitudes and antics. They seemed to really have fun working on the campaign -- with many key staffers treating it as a game, albeit a game with very high stakes.
Only near the end of the film do director of communications George Stephanopoulos and master manipulator James Carville seem to grasp what they've accomplished. "We helped changed America!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, Incredible, do not miss it...
If you enjoy the political process, you MUST see this documentary. As you know, it is an insider's look at the Clinton campaign in 1992. Read more
Published on April 8 2004 by CPUsports
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-done documentary
I give it five stars for the technical aspects, 2 stars for the subject matter. As another reviewer wrote, you get the sense after watching this of "Is that all there... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone with political dreams
This is a great movie of just how campaigns and elections are handled. Great story of the most talented campaigner of this century, James Carville and how his team managed the... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by TexDem
2.0 out of 5 stars Clintons true colors?
Did you believe the lie? Forty three percent of the voting public did. Love Bill Clinton or dislike the man this shows his true colors. Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The real West Wing
Ok, so The War Room is really pre-West Wing. This is a great behind the scenes tale of how Clinton beat Bush. In fact, I would give it 5 stars if it was a bit longer. Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2002 by StevenJM
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent documentary of the 1992 presidential elections
Great documentary of the presidential election of 1992 that was split into three different candidates: Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and George Bush. Read more
Published on April 2 2002 by Jason W. Atwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Documentary on Electoral Politics
One of my all time favorite documentaries, The War Room depicts the behind the scene machinations of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. Read more
Published on March 29 2002 by hermione31
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
A true classic of American politics, THE WAR ROOM, like the Carville/Matalin book ALL'S FAIR, makes it abundantly clear why Clinton beat Bush in one of the most unwinnable... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2001 by David Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Presidential Campaign behind the scenes look
I bought this DVD and have watched it several times, and never tire of it. This is a riveting true life behind the scenes look at the not so glamorous hard work that goes into a... Read more
Published on Dec 12 2001 by Mrs. Valerie G. Campitiello
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