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Reagan examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern world - icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
Spiro Agnew ...
Himself (archive footage)
Martin Anderson ...
Himself - Reagan historian
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Herself (archive footage)
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Himself - Boston University
James Baker III ...
Himself - Reagan Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury
Glenn Beck ...
Himself (archive footage)
Alvah Bessie ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
John Boehner ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself (archive footage)
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Himself - Reagan Communications Director
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Storyline

Ronald Reagan as a man, as compared to his legacy, is rich territory for exploration, and a line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is just one of the many things that springs to mind after viewing filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's latest opus, Reagan (Jarecki's Why We Fight won the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: Documentary). Speaking at his funeral, Mark Antony said of Caesar, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." With a firm grasp of Reagan's story, Jarecki avoids the predictable and takes the long view on Reagan's life and influence, while staying centered on him as a man of deep contradiction; an American whose patriotism paradoxically led him to impeachable acts, a liberal Democrat who came to define the modern conservative movement. Written by Anonymous

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23 January 2011 (USA)  »

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Man and myth
26 March 2011 | by See all my reviews

Ronald Reagan has become such a mythologised figure by the American right that it's hard for a documentary to present a balanced view. Moreover, Americans in general tend to treat their Presidents with a respect that is wholly absent from British politics; although Eugene Jarecki's documentary is actually not bad in challenging the myths (both that everything Reagan did was good, and also that he did everything that has been attributed to him), in it's tone, it can't help but add to them. In fact, it's pretty soft on his early years, and fails to mention that as Governor of California, his trick was really to talk like a conservative but to spend like only liberals were supposed to (although it concedes the same point with regard to his subsequent presidency). On the presidency itself, Jarecki's film delivers a harder verdict, as the critics are far more precise than the admirers, who can only defend Reagan through vague eulogy. It's a bit odd, however, that the final verdict on Reagan's years, and American society, is given by a former military officer who seems no more entitled to pass the definitive opinion than any of the rest of us. One interesting thing for me was to see that Reagan was, at his peak, a genuinely accomplished performer - dismissed as senile by his enemies perhaps before he truly was, he comes across as shrewder than popular perception allows, even if one can dispute the value of his legacy.


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