Fiction and Reality

The Candidate (1972) embodies what it is like for an unknown to compete against an entrenched incumbent for the United States Senate.  The film, which starred Robert Redford, Melvyn Douglas, and Peter Boyle, was written by Jeremy Larner, who was the head speechwriter for Eugene McCarthy in his 1968 bid for President.  Shot in a pseudo-documentary style which is common place in many television shows and movies today, The Candidate provides serious and comic moments in how a campaign works.  This is done all through the lens of someone who once worked for a Presidential campaign.  The Candidate is a compelling piece of cinema from the early 1970s.  Perhaps that even with the film’s star power and sobering screenplay, it is the film’s final scene that demonstrates the disconnect between campaign for office and the reality of actually holding office.

Your thoughts?

11 responses to “Fiction and Reality

  1. He was in shock and did not know how to respond to the news of winning. I’m guessing that is how many people feel when they get the spot of holding the office. He looked in disbelief as if it were a dream, he kept starring into space.

  2. It’s always a great story to hear an underdog go against the candidate or competition and prevail. This is a good story of just that. Anything, could happen. You just need to stay true to your goals and know that every person that you have met in your life has some individual purpose for a greater cause.

  3. I think that the film shows the reality of how it would feel to finally achieve your goal and win. I think the candidate did not know how to react after campaigning for so long, which I am sure can be stressful because you are constantly being judged by people you do not know and need to come off the best person in the end in order to win.

  4. Tracy Gray-Caruthers

    This scene really reminded me of first-time motherhood (I have 2 children). It’s like, you find out you’re pregnant, you’re elated and excited and anxious. You begin to tell people that you’re “running for the office of mother” (announce your pregnancy to others), you try to gather support (ie: get future babysitters) , reach out to people who have been in “politics” (parenthood) for years and have vast experience. You try to convince (naysayers) people that you are ready to be a mom (debate the issues) You decorate the nursery, buy the necessary accoutrements (campaign hard, spend lots of campaign dollars), have the baby shower (have a campaign event), and before you know it, it’s election day (the day when labor begins). Then, you’ve won, and somebody is handing you a baby and smiling, and you’re thinking or mumbling, or asking your spouse, “what do we do, now?” Because even though you’ve gone through the process, it doesn’t make you an authority. And having to do a job, is wwwwaaaaaayyyyy different than imagining doing a job. When you’re in the midst of it all, watching other people do it, it seems completely do-able, but when it becomes really real…it becomes really real, and you become keenly aware of all of your shortcomings, your lack of knowledge and experience, and your overall ignorance.

  5. My thoughts in regards to this scene shows that even after we work hard for something and go through all the process at the end of we are confused on what to do. In regards to the scene in the film, I feel that he is confused and he does not know whats next for him in the world of politics. The realness of what his job title is, has settled in and maybe he feels that the pressure is really on. Maybe he feels like “Can I do all that I have said that I would do for the people? Or will i fail.”

  6. I think this scene in the movie shows that when you work so hard to get some where or to reach a goal you don’t know what to do after you reach it. He also looked almost shocked that he won and maybe didn’t expect it to ever happen. I also think people don’t realize how stressful running for president can maybe be or any office in the government.

  7. This remembers me of when we see the people after they have been told they won. It’s like how we all would act if we won a contest or the lottery. But sometimes good news isn’t always the best thing for us at the time.

  8. I watched this film my senior year of high school, what an awesome movie. Robert Redford was the underdog in the campaign and when he was voted in, that reaction he has is eye opening at fist. But if you think deeply about it, it shows that anyone, even in politics is human. Sometimes when we get awarded something we strive for, we are in disbelief. I like to think of it as, you try so hard to get something, you don’t know what to do when you finally get it.

  9. Osman Dzabiri

    I feel as if this film really portrays the feelings those that are feeling before and after their campaign. I would say it is similar to trying to get something you really want to achieve. You work hard and do what you can to get that one thing you so desperately want, but after all that time and effort, after you’ve gotten what you worked for, it isn’t all that great. And I think that is due to the fact that the work and the process in getting what you wanted, was much more beneficial and worthy than the actual goal. That is what I believe the film is trying to explain.

  10. Marisol Rodríguez

    I think the film is trying to show how he worked so hard to accomplish his goal Now that he won he dosnt know how to feel or react towards his accomplishment . At the end of the film he looks confused like he cannot believe he did it. There was all that stress and now it is over.

  11. I found this scene really funny, but also really depressing. His whole goal was clearly to win this election, which he probably did not think he would accomplish, and now he does not know what to do with his new status. However, I cannot help but wonder why he ran in the first place if he did not have goals to complete while in office. Maybe it’s like he sold all his ideals and morals to win and now finds that he has nothing to offer? This is part of the reason why I would be afraid to run for office, you have to jump through so many hoops and play so many little games that you forget why you’re there in the first place.

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