USA – 2013 – 84 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY PENNY LANE
Throughout Richard Nixon's presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. Young, idealistic and dedicated, they had no idea that a few years later they'd all be in prison. This unique and personal visual record, created by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years. OUR NIXON is an all-archival documentary presenting those home movies for the first time, along with other rare footage, creating an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before.
OUR NIXON begins in 1969. While many young people are demonstrating or dropping out, we meet three squares who have just started new jobs at the White House. Their loss of innocence and their betrayal by the President is the story of OUR NIXON. Their story sheds new light on larger historical themes at a key moment in American history when the age of Aquarius gave way to the age of Nixon.
Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chapin filmed over 500 reels of home movies from 1969 to 1973, capturing the prosaic and the profound. They filmed big events: the Apollo moon landing, historic anti-war protests, the Republican National Convention, Tricia Nixon's White House wedding and Nixon's world-changing trip to China. They filmed world leaders and celebrities: Nicolae Ceausescu, Chou En-lai, Barbara Walters. But they also filmed each other and everyday life: Ehrlichman eating dinner off a tray on Air Force One, Chapin's wife and kids meeting the Easter Bunny on the White House lawn, Haldeman riding a bicycle at Camp David. Ehrlichman was especially fond of filming hummingbirds. They filmed to have something to show their grandchildren. They filmed because they thought that Nixon's presidency would change the world forever. The tragedy is that they were right.
"...conveys a discomfiting truth about the excitement that comes with any proximity to power, even in circumstances as corrupt and combative as these"
- THE GRID
"[OUR NIXON] does humanize and make moderately identifiable the sort of character flaws that go into making terrible, life-changing decisions."
"OUR NIXON is an entirely archival documentary, with the film rolls culled from a trove of about 26 hours, which had been stored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for decades."
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL