Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 15:57 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 15:57 | SYDNEY

In defence of Oliver Stone


Sam Roggeveen


30 July 2008 18:19

Michael Fullilove is right to say that Oliver Stone's personal politics are frequently objectionable. Michael mentions Stone's admiration of FARC, but Stone once also made an apparently gushing documentary about Fidel Castro. I haven't seen the film, but this interview with Stone suggest he was both an apologist and a dupe for the Cuban President.

Despite these flaws, it's clear to me that Stone is much more than a sloganeer film-maker of the Michael Moore school. His Richard Nixon biopic, for instance, is a subtle portayal of a complex and tragic figure. I remember it chiefly for a wonderful scene showing Nixon wandering the White House late on the night before his resignation. He pauses in front of a famous portrait of Kennedy and says: 'When they look at you they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are.' There's more than a hint of sympathy for Nixon there, so perhaps Stone will find some for Bush too.

Stone also has an interesting visual style and is a pretty competent dramatist, in my view. Michael is dead right about the historical howlers in JFK, but 'boring'? Surely not. 'W' will almost certainly portray the Bush Administration in a terrible light, and not all of the brickbats will be deserved. But if you want policy analysis, there are plenty of books out there for you. If you want a character study, Oliver Stone may yet surprise you. He will certainly provide a more three-dimensional portrayal than Will Ferrell can.