on May 4, 2003
I highly recommend this movie for two very good reasons.
First, the acting and the dialogue involved with this project are great. I can still hear Lady Bird Johnson telling a frightened and fatigued LBJ "When eloquence of words are no longer effective, then perhaps it is time for eloquence of action..." And with these words, LBJ decides to retire the presidency and public life.
Second, I recommend "Path to War" because of the subject of this impressive movie is Lyndon Baines Johnson. Arguably one of the most controversial figures of American history, it is easy to forget all the good he has done for our country in the hell of Vietnam. This movie finally reminds the viewer that although President Kennedy had such wonderful dreams and ideas for our society, it was President Johnson who made those dreams a reality by maneuvering the congress to enact the "Great Society" laws. The audience can feel his joy and elation as he sees his vision of an America that has beaten poverty, racial discrimination, and the host of other social ills present in America during the 1960s. Then, we see his dreams transformed into nightmares as the American public become increasingly angry and hostile with his policy towards Vietnam. The audience is shown the private torture inflicted by decisions president Johnson makes in regards to Vietnam and the anger he knew they would generate...In conclusion, "Path to War" reminds me of a Greek tragety; riveting and enjoyable to watch and experience in the comfort of ones own home.
on April 15, 2003
Being a huge John Frankenheimer fan, this movie was on my list to see for some time since I don't have HBO. Overall, I wasn't expecting too much from this movie, somehow I have that perception with all made-for-tv movies. The movie certainly has that feel in the first few minutes, with acting that seems a bit forced and wooden. But as the story progressed, I slowly got pulled into the situation and characters of all involved. By the time the movie was over, I was impressed with the portrait provided of LBJ as a troubled man who wanted to do so much for the country, but was held back with a stalemate war. It's expertly directed by Frankenheimer, with his classic visual style that exudes tension with facial close-ups. Gambon does a pretty good job too, although most of his acting in this movie falls into the 'concerned man' and the 'screaming and yelling man' episodes; it still shows the bi-polar sources pulling at him.
It resonates a bit with the current tensions and war in Iraq (some of this is mentioned in the bonus features), but it still carves out its own identity; when was the last time a President talked about a Great Society? It makes me wonder how significant of a President Johnson could have been (many books defer to this position as well, almost worthy of a place on Mt. Rushmore). But as a youngster, most of the Presidents I've been alive to experience are focused more on cautious outlooks than on civil progression and visionary goals. Of course its all easier said than done, but it seems to me the era visionaries has ceased with Johnson's statement not run for a second term in office.
I know very little of the historic values of past Presidents, but it's a genre I enjoy experiencing in the movies and television. If you watch the West Wing on a regular basis, or just enjoy movies with historical facts and situations (13 days, JFK, All the Presidents Men), then you'll enjoy this movie. I expected little, and I got a home run in return. I think it's a great movie that concludes Frankenheimer's career. I like his work a lot, and he will be missed.
It should be noted that the movie is not 4x3 full frame format. Instead it's in 16x9, anamorphic format; and the transfer I would rate as 'good' but not exceptional.
on June 17, 2004
Its always fascinating when a movie comes out that shows the inner workings of Government and/or the White House....to get a sense of how our elected officials tick. To be honest I was not all that familiar with the Vietnam War so this movie provided me with some fascinating insight. All the performances are terrific,
very highly recommended.