“Our Nixon” from director Penny Lane is a film composed entirely of archival footage following Richard Nixon through his presidency. The footage comes from various news outlets and, most interestingly, from home video captured by top Nixon staffers. The private footage was seized durring the Watergate investigation and has never been seen before.
The home video footage was shot primarily by H.R. Haldeman (White House Chief of Staff), John Ehrlichman (Domestic Affairs Advisor), and Dwight Chapin (Special Assistant). “Our Nixon” paints a portrait of Nixon through the eyes of the people closest to him during his time in office. The documentary follows Nixon through his first election; his dealings with Vietnam and the war protests; his trip to China; and the Watergate scandal, giving an intimate look at what some of staffers were thinking at the time and in the years following Watergate. The film also features some of Nixon’s infamous soundbites – candid conversations caught and preserved.
Going into the film, I was afraid the documentary would approach the subject with some irony, but “Our Nixon” maintains a strong middle ground and definitely puts human faces on these figures from a controversial period of time.
While the concept was completely unique, there wasn’t anything particularly revealing or surprising in the film; Nixon’s time in office has been covered extensively, and it’s the archival footage that saves the film from being another documentary about the presidency.
The film has been picked up for distribution and, if you’re a history buff or interested in Nixon, I definitely recommend checking out “Our Nixon.”