Stories about journalists investigating scandals have always been popular topics for films. First and foremost it can be explained by a desire of a human being to rummage in the staff of other people, to take the skeleton out of a cupboard and learn all the ins and outs of another person. Journalists are similar to sleuthhounds, which are poking their nose into affairs of others, making a sensation out of it. And when it comes to political scandals, their interest is boosted even more.
The film, directed by Alan J. Pakula All the President’s Men, is a paragon of a film, where journalists investigate a scandal, which relates to President of the Unites States of America and other authorities. However, the topic itself was more than successful from the very beginning – a story of politicians involved into espionage is already a scenario for a bestseller. The film, based on true facts in June 1972, is telling a story of two journalists, being absolutely different: a handsome blond as a model of the film industry those days, and an ordinary typical journalist of the Washington Post, are to work with each other on a topic, which is to become a sensation for the newspaper. They start investigation of the so-called Watergate scandal, when five men were caught planting bugs and other tapping devices in the Democratic National Committee headquarters. As it turned out later, all these five people had some CIA background. Woodward and Berstein, the main heroes, are encouraged by their editor to gather information for the first page. Throughout the whole story Woodward and Berstein are investigating the story discovering more and more facts. Finally, due to help of their anonymous source “Deep Throat” they manage to disclose some of the facts. The film is ending with resignation of President Nixon and the inauguration of Gerald Ford in August 1974.
As it has already been mentioned in question, the film is based on real facts, which took place in 1972 before the election of the US President. Actually, in the beginning of the 1970s, a political scandal shocked the United States – some people broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The next morning it was revealed that five men Frank Sturgis, Virgilio González, James W. McCord, Jr., Bernard Barker and Eugenio Martínez, whose roots were leading to CIA either directly or indirectly, were arrested for violation of federal wiretapping laws, burglary and conspiracy. However, the fact that an office of a Democratic Party was broken in and the bugs were planted was not a shock itself. Very soon, it was revealed that actually, higher-echelon government officials were involved into this break-in.
Nonetheless, even the fact that higher-echelon government officials took part in the break-in was not the final point in this case. After an investigation of the FBI, it was found out that the payments paid to the burglars were connected to a slush fund, used by the 1972 Committee to Re-elect the President. Finally, it was revealed that not only president's staff was involved into tapping, but President Nixon himself had a tape recording system in his office, and many conversations had already been recorded. These very tapes, actually, helped to reveal that President was trying to cover up the break-in, and after a series of court battles, under the resolution of the US Supreme Court, President was obliged to hand over the tapes.
Further on, the scandal pushed the story to a near-certain impeachment of President Nixon. To avoid such disgrace, 9 August 1974 President Nixon resigned, remaining the first and the only President of the US who resigned before the end of the term. The issue itself drew a wide response in the media, as it seemed to be absolutely nonsensical that President and all his men are violating hard and fast rules.
The film is reflecting actual events, which took place during those days. However, the story itself is investigated from the side of two journalists, but for the FBI or other authorities. Throughout the film, one can learn all the ins and outs of the journalistic activity and the process of fishing out the information.
Actually, the film itself is really breathtaking and exciting; nonetheless, it would be more useful for a journalistic class rather than History. Throughout the film too much attention is devoted to the process of ‘fishing out’. No doubt, they were very informative, but at the same time non- informative with regard to History. I do not think that the film itself will be very useful in a history class as it does not but lacks facts. History loves proven facts; otherwise, the story turns into fiction. The journalists do reveal many facts, which may be interesting; at the same time do not pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the whole story.
With regard to the usefulness of the film as for people who are new to the topic, it has certain advantages. First of all, the film is interpreting the philistine point of view. These two journalists were ordinary citizens who were tracking the case in the light of ordinary people: neither FBI nor other governmental authorities. While they were gathering facts, the case was forming like a puzzle. Throughout the film, each and everyone is investigating the case with these two journalists. As a result, this film can be used as a background for a person, who wants to learn more about the Watergate scandal.
The film, as a product of entertainment, is very interesting. Work of director as well as the actors and the whole team are professional and on a high level. Not only does the film keep everyone on edge, but it also tells a real story, which happened 38 years ago, but still remains a unique one in the history of the United States. It sheds light on the facts which cannot be always read in the history books, being told by the witnesses of the scandal. Actually, mainstream entertainment can be very useful for the teaching process. I cannot say effective, as it has already been mentioned in question that History requires facts, but can be useful to arouse interest to the issue. Such means should be used in the beginning of the topic to be discussed, so that students could get the general and vivid overview of the issue. Moreover, it is common knowledge that films are much easier perceived than books, and can catch interest of students faster. However, mainstream entertainment cannot and should not completely replace books, as while studying History it is very important to see several points of view. History is not an exact science; it is very often subjective, as it is interpreted by a human being, who has his own interests and views. That’s why I am determined that in order to understand the issue it is important to review several points of view and come to one conclusion, which can also be subjective.