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All the President’s Men Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Mar 15th, 2020

Political thrillers based on non-fiction books are oriented to represent the plot events extremely closely to reality. However, the reality in All the President’s Men (1976) is depicted vividly and completely, and it is possible to speak about the successful representation of the documentary facts in the context of the highly artistic work.

The plot of All the President’s Men directed by Alan J. Pakula depends on the real events of 1972-1973, and it is associated with the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon as a result of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigation for The Washington Post.

The roles of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were performed by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman (Coblenz & Pakula, 1976). Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men is characterized by the remarkable approaches to depicting vivid details and illustrating the documentary story in order to make it an effective political thriller.

The story begins with arresting five burglars who were observed in the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Two reporters of The Washington Post Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein began to investigate the case.

This event can be discussed as the main one for the development of the whole story because the reporters became interested in the event as the trigger for the political scandal that became more obvious with each new detail of the case investigation. The burglars had the bugging equipment, and many aspects of their presence in the Democratic National Committee headquarters were difficult to understand.

The financial scandal led to the development of the great political scandal in which President Richard Nixon was involved. The whole story can be described as the clew which was unwound by efforts of Woodward and Bernstein.

Focusing on a lot of details and hidden facts and using the help of the anonymous person, Woodward and Bernstein revealed all the incomprehensible points and combined them in a single picture (Coblenz & Pakula, 1976). Thus, the plot of the movie is based on the investigation performed by two successful reporters Woodward and Bernstein who did not work together previously.

To understand the fact why this movie is discussed as the classical example of a political thriller, it is necessary to concentrate on examining the characters of Woodward and Bernstein and their cooperation as well as on perfect work of the director who was successful to produce the definite atmosphere of menace. Woodward and Bernstein are the best reporters of The Washington Post, but they are not used to work in pairs.

The investigation associated with the Watergate scandal becomes the challenge for two reporters and makes them cooperate effectively. These two persons are depicted as antagonists in relation to their approaches to work, but they are professionals, and their cooperation results in a success.

The difference between these two persons is appropriately emphasized with references to depicting their different styles, manners, behaviors, habits, and working principles. The vivid characters which attract the audience’s attention can be considered as the movie’s strengths.

The next strength is the specific atmosphere of the genre of a political thriller. The bugging persons are expected to be found round every corner. The audience can feel the extreme psychological and emotional tension.

The associated menace, paranoia, and suspense are presented in slight details of the characters’ behaviors making the viewers wait for the denouement. The changes in the situation can be observed with references to changes in postures and behaviors of Woodward and Bernstein, and this fact makes the story more real and interesting.

Ben Bradlee is the next important character of the movie who plays the role of a motivator for Woodward and Bernstein’s continuous investigation. Ben Bradlee is the editor of The Washington Post who proclaims such important principles as the reliance on the facts which are confirmed and reputation of the people discussed in the articles and of the newspapers’ authors (Coblenz & Pakula, 1976).

Thus, Woodward and Bernstein need to demonstrate all their skills in investigating the case and communicating with people in order to find the necessary information. Words play a key role in the work of journalists, from this point, the scene of communicating with the anonymous source is interesting because the whole conversation is the flow of metaphors and associations.

The positive opinion in relation to the movie can be based on many factors such as the actors’ performance, the work of the director, the interesting plot, the effective atmosphere, the association with the reality, the focus on influential details. Moreover, it is significant to pay attention to the aspects of representing the work of journalists in the movie. Woodward and Bernstein are the masters of questioning and searching the facts and evidence.

Furthermore, they do not rely on facts, criticize and pay attention to finding the confirmation for their guesses and conclusions. Thus, All the President’s Men is the perfect example of the political thriller in which the work of intellects and psychological tension is more important to portray the situation than the scenes of cruelty.


Coblenz, W. (Producer), & Pakula, A. J. (Director). (1976). All the President’s Men [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.

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