Pakula, Politics and Paranoia: The US Elections
The 2020 U.S. presidential election takes place on Tuesday November 3, when voters will select presidential electors who will vote on 14 December to elect either a new president and vice president or reelect the incumbents. We couldn’t resist the chance to curate a short season of films to mark this event, starting with a rare screening of Albert Maysles, Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker’s fascinating documentary, Primary, about the 1960 Wisconsin primary election between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
Film historian, biographer, screenwriter and author Joseph McBride has kindly agreed to pre-record a Q&A with us for screening alongside Primary. Joe worked for and met Kennedy during the 1960 Wisconsin primary and can even be glimpsed briefly in the film.
Alan J. Pakula’s “Paranoia Trilogy”, Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976) presents very different characters, but they have one thing in common: they are all ordinary Americans from everyday professions who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Bound together by a shared cynicism, Pakula’s characters are increasingly overwhelmed as they learn the truth about power and those in government who wield it against their own citizens. Relying on their own instincts these characters ultimately rise above the spectre of helplessness and social isolation, with the truth as their ultimate guide.
And on a sentimental note, Frank Capra’s 1939 comedy-drama Mr Smith Goes to Washington, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur is a stone cold classic which, even more than 80 years on, has lost none of its relevance.