Monday, December 22, 2008

Frost/Nixon

In March, 1977, disgraced ex-President Richard Nixon sat with talk show host David Frost for more than 28 hours stretching over 12 days, in a historic set of interviews about Watergate and other subjects related to the Nixon presidency. My son and I saw the movie about those interviews last night. Frost/Nixon is a film adaptation of the 2006 play of the same name, and it's directed by Ron Howard, one of my favorite movie directors.

It may not sound like the kind of thing that would make for a good movie, but I was totally engrossed the whole 2 hours. Of course, I'm already fascinated by everything Watergate. But this movie does what no documentary would do. It takes you inside the lonely heart of Richard Nixon. Frank Langella plays Nixon to the hilt. Without trying to "act" like Nixon (like an impressionist would do), Langella sounds like him, hunches over like him, and displays both Nixon's arrogance and sadness so well I felt like I was really looking at the man.

Beyond a treatment of Nixon's complicity in Watergate (he basically confessed during his last interview with Frost), what this movie does is show how the two adversaries - Frost and Nixon - were really after the same thing. They were both looking for satisfaction in a world they felt had rejected them.

Tim Keller, in The Reason for God, defines sin as "the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him." Looked at in that light, Frost/Nixon is an excellent glimpse into the soul of a sinner who has yet to find a relationship with Jesus Christ. In totally different ways, both Frost and Nixon broke the first of the Ten Commandments - "You shall have no other gods before me."

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