W THE MOVIE
W The Movie not to be confused with W. (2008), the serious-minded (and surprisingly sympathetic) Oliver Stone biopic of George W. Bush is a surrealistic satire on the Bush presidency. (The Oliver Stone film does get a couple of references thrown in its direction towards the end here, although W The Movie started shooting some three years before W. appeared). If anything, W The Movie could almost be considered the sweded version of W. after the habit of making no-budget copies of popular films on deliberately chintzy cardboard sets that we saw in Michel Gondrys Be Kind Rewind (2008). W The Movie is certainly a bewildering experience imagine an incisive attack on the Bush presidency, all conducted as something between The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) costume pantomime and amid digital animation that makes the whole film look as though it is taking place on cardboard cutout sets.
After the massive success of Michael Moores Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), criticism of the Bush presidency and associated issues became an industry unto itself on the independent filmmaking scene. In particular, documentary film was seen as the last independent media voice after the wary, uncritical tone taken by the majority of mainstream media. Like most of these, W The Movie is refreshingly unapologetic about holding a liberal agenda and offers a damning indictment of the many crimes perpetuated by the Bush White House. (A lookalike papier-mache guardian angel named Michael Moore even turns up to aid Blue Mahler and the revolutionaries). Eaker and his co-director Russ St. Just cover most aspects of the Bush presidency from the stealing of the 2000 election to naturally 9/11 and the Iraq War (the defining events of the Bush presidency) to Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 election, culminating in the Barack Obama victory. We even get digs at the Florida ballots controversy and the blatant conservative agenda of the Fox news channel. (About the only issues missing are John Kerry and Karl Roves barefaced turning of gay marriage into a ballot issue in many states to bring the fundamentalists out to vote in the 2004 election). The film even ends with the appealing thought of George W. Bush being tried for war crimes.
The result resembles something akin to a university student revue political satire. Everything looks affectedly surreal and cartoonish. Sometimes the film wanders off into unrelated things I was not quite sure, for instance, how the scenes during the middle of the film with Blue Mahlers son Samson (played by co-director Russ St. Just), Delilah and Samsons testosterone cream were meant to relate to George W. Bush. That said, every so often the film returns to the main target and hits the nail acutely on the head with the points it makes. One of the most effective scenes is the chess game between Blue Mahler and W where Blue remonstrates how Bushs evangelical Christianity and bin Ladens jihadist Islam are essentially facets of the same coin in terms of being extreme beliefs that offer no tolerance of any alternatives, or the demolition of the films equivalent of John McCain as being no more than a Bush puppet. The references are often clever like a collage of posters in the background of one scene that puts pictures of Bush, Donald Rumsfield and Dick Cheney alongside phrases from George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) war is peace, freedom is slavery etc or mocked up amid Nazis propaganda posters, even a recreation of the poster for Charlie Chaplins The Great Dictator (1940).
One of the most striking aspects about W The Movie is the design work. Most of the film has been shot digital backlot in a way that makes the sets seems deliberately artificial gingerbread houses, Roman arenas, even W walking amid a sea of bodies to represent Hurricane Katrina. (The films unique design for a radio has to be seen to be believed). There are times that this mix of sweded sets and digital backlot is strikingly inventive. Particularly well done are dogfights between deliberately unreal, almost cardboard fighter planes in the skies, which have all been beautifully digitally animated.
The actors are all non-professionals. Though numerous real-life characters are portrayed, none of the actors chosen have many physical resemblance to their real-life counterparts Saddam Hussein is played by a Caucasian man, for instance, while the equivalent of Condoleeza Rice is cheekily outfitted as a street hooker. Alfred Eaker seems to play most of the roles in the film, including both the central parts of W and his nemesis Blue Mahler. Both W and Blue Mahler go through the film with faces painted respectively like an American flag and in alternating blue and red colours. Eaker plays with a deliberately broad Texan accent, while delivering all the dialogue in the tone of a shouty commercial as though through a megaphone.
Full film available online here:-