Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Review: Jimmy Carter Man from Plains

Jonathan Demme's documentary on former president Jimmy Carter is somewhat inexplicable. I can only assume it was of personal interest. The subject matter is relatively high profile, but, forgive me, not something that captures the imagination.

We follow Jimmy Carter as he tours, promoting his book "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid". Controversy swirls into a cyclone of accusations, aimed at a man who, to hear him talk, is clearly a passionate, humble, pious servant of mankind. By almost all accounts, Jimmy Carter has only ever tried to help people, be that through brokering peace between Egypt and Israel, or promoting Habitat for Humanity.

But the particular wording of his treatise on Mideast peace was not universally received. "Apartheid" carries with it decades of baggage, it's loaded vocabulary. It caused much of Carter's audience to suppose he sided with Palestinians in the conflict, when Carter would proclaim his concern for all parties.

There is a scene where Carter, in front of a large audience, shows how deep the cutting remarks of his detractors go. In a quieted, halting moment, he says that it's the first time he'd been called a liar. For a man so deeply devoted to the Bible, to America, to family and humanity, for a man who only wants to help, I can't imagine much of anything worse to call him. That scene makes me think he'd agree.

The music is eclectic and often ill fitting, the motion graphics are stunning but distracting, and the focus unclear. It was enjoyable, educational, and I'm glad I saw it. I don't know if I'd recommend it to friends.

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