on 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. And since there is no overall narrator, there is really nothing in here that tells you that you should feel a certain way about it all. The DVD contains no special features, which is a shame.
I really enjoyed "The War Room," and I'm not a real big fan of politics. I think it presents an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes. If you're looking for an entertaining documentary that is funny and tense, then this is definitely something you should consider checking out. A big triumph on all fronts, if you want my honest opinion. -Michael Crane
on February 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.
on April 8, 2004
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.
You are a fly on the wall as the film especially focuses on the work of James Carville and George Stephanapolous.
It's compelling and occasionally funny. Even more interesting, Al Gore gives one hell of a speech, and I never thought of him as an orator.
on March 29, 2002
One of my all time favorite documentaries, The War Room depicts the behind the scene machinations of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. The documentary was originally supposed to be about the romance between chief Clinton strategist, James ( the "Ragin' Cajun") Carville, and Marlee Matilin, who, at the time, was a chief advisor to the George Bush campaign. But documentaries, like politics, have a way of taking on a life of their own, and The War Room turned into a cinema verité examination of a presidential election at work, through the eyes of the master, Carville, and George Stephanopoulos, Clinton's press secretary, with whom the audience identifies, idealist that he is.
The War Room gives one an opportunity to see up close the salesmanship, competitiveness, sincerity, frustration, and the unrelenting pace of king-making in politics. Carville and Stephanopoulos' work is exhilarating and exhausting. They are men of conviction, and have the battle-scars to prove it. As we watch the Convention showmanship, the strategies, the debates, and the cabin-fever come election day, we find ourselves knuckling down with our two guides and crossing our fingers as the results come in.
Hegedus and Pennebaker do a remarkable job of making the audience feel part and parcel of the Clinton campaign. Even more impressive, election strategy successes and failures come across as well. We see the Clinton strategists impressive "quick-response" system in action, as they do battle with the media over the Gennifer Flowers nightmare, and we see what at first seems to be a promising lead on the Bush campaign financing their sign-printing with foreign laborers fall off the nightly
Nobility and venality can coexist in the most talented and altruistic of people, but cannot be painlessly reconciled in the eyes of those who follow and admire them. This is a lesson lightly touched on by The War Room, and beaten over our heads by eight years that followed.
The War Room was an Academy Award nominee in the category of "Best Documentary."
on June 19, 2001
One can certainly take issue with the merits of the candidate Carville and Stephanopolous supported (and I do), but there is no denying the immense skill with which Clinton's '92 campaign was run. Watching Pennebaker and Hegedus' work, I was reminded of how difficult it was to be a Republican in 1992 (there would be better days to come). The War Room not only made it crystal clear why to me why, but reliving that campaign through the eyes of the opposition really reminded me of what it takes to win a campaign. The War Room captures both the thrill of the campaign (doesn't matter who's winning) and its intricacies. A segment from the Democratic Convention pits Harold Ickes against an operative who argues for distributing thousands of handpainted signs versus pre-printed blue placards is a hilarious reminder of what it's really like in the smoke-filled room.
Democrats will see this film to relive the moment of their greatest glory this side of JFK. Republicans need to see it for a more important reason: know your enemies.
on May 9, 2000
The War Room is an excellent documentary that takes the viewer behind the scenes of the Clinton 1992 campaign. This video shows more of the tactics, strategies and means of how the Clinton campaign operated. James Carville and George Stephanopolus truly were masterminds in orchestrating an excellent presidential campaign. This video should be viewed by any political science major, or individual who plans to go into political consulting. Then again, having just about any individual watch the video will educate the viewer about an important component and function of any election process - the campaign.
The War Room - a phrase which is ever so fitting and appropriate for Clinton's campaign operations - represents the concept of strategizing and winning.
It has a superb touch to it, in the respect that it not only shows the process of campaigning, but it also shows the feelings and the "human side" of the individuals involved.
on August 1, 2000
As those of us who actually work in politics instead of just reading and watching movies about it can testify, the job can really run you down phyiscally, mentally and emotionally, completely draining you and can take all the fun out of what you do. Well, when that happens, pop this movie in! Time and again when the job has me at wits end and ready to give up on politics (and go into something more profitable), I'll watch how Carville and Stephanopolous defied the odds and got President Clinton elected. By the time George is talking to the President-elect on the cellular, I'm beaming and completely rejuvinated. This is a must-watch for any political staffer, junkie, or amatuer who wants an insider looks at how campaigns really work.
on December 14, 2001
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 elections of the last half century.
To put it bluntly, Clinton and his campaign stayed in touch with the electorate and worked their tails off, while Matalin and the Bush campaign made weekly pronouncements about "the people's will" and through boozy parties for themselves.
Perhaps most fascinating in THE WAR ROOM is the relationship between Stephanopoulos, Carville, and Clinton, the three-headed Republican-killing dragon from Little Rock by way of Manhattan. Like a good sports team they are simultaneously loose and intense, kicked-back and on-issue.
on February 1, 2000
Regardless of your personal ideology, this film is a must-watch for any political junkie. You may watch it with joy and cheering, or maybe you'll hate the ending. It doesn't matter, the real story is the interaction between people, not the point of view.
What makes this unusual and significant is the groundbreaking style of Carville & Co. As he correctly points out at the end, "We changed the way political campaigns are run." Nothing could be more correct.
Anyone looking to gain insight to campaigns, the 1992 election specifically, or just viewing from a historical perspective will enjoy this fine film.
on May 24, 1999
A super companion to Stephanopoulos' new book "All too Human." This is a MUST SEE for all political junkies. Engaging, intersting, and surprisingly entertaining, THE WAR ROOM is the best available example of how to run a modern presidential campaign. Carville and Stephanopoulos make an unlikely successful team with charisma and chemistry. It is truly insider's look at the innerworkings of the train that leads to the most powerful destination on the planet. The only regret is that there was no follow up in 1996.