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Oliver Stone's 'W.' Heartfelt Drama


Just days before the U.S. presidential election, filmmaker Oliver Stone is releasing a film on the life of U.S. President George W. Bush. The film, titled W., follows Bush from his college days to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The director portrays Bush as inwardly conflicted. Like Stone's previous movies - JFK and Nixon - this one is controversial because the filmmaker uses his imagination in constructing the story line, not necessarily hewing to fact. As VOA's Penelope Poulou reports, it is also controversial because it psychoanalyzes a current president.

The film opens in 2003, days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Director Oliver Stone has scripted Bush as an idealistic but gullible man, misled by staffers with their own agendas.

The president is shown as someone who bases his decisions on instinct and emotion. He loves sports. He could have been a good baseball coach. But, according to the movie, George W.'s surroundings and his personal relationships, especially with his father, pushed him in a different direction.

"The father-son story is at the heart of the movie, in a sense," Stone says.

The film portrays Bush Jr. as exuberant, seeking the approval of a father who has a superior intellect and a disparaging view of his son.

Squelched by the weight of the Bush legacy, W. struggles to find his way.

He finds religion. He sobers up and decides to run for office, partly because he believes it's his God-given mission and partly because he wants to prove himself to his family.

Stone portrays advisor Karl Rove as the first person who recognizes George W.'s people skills.

But this down-to-earth person is presented as a cocky president. In the plot, W. dismisses advisors who disagree with him. He listens to those who boost his ego.

Actor Josh Brolin immersed himself in the president's cinematic character.

"It's my interpretation of it," Brolin says. "I don't apologize for it for a second because all he is, is another guy."

Elizabeth Banks plays a demure and intriguing Laura Bush, the president's faithful wife, his voice of reason.

Like many of Stone's films, this one has sparked criticism among reviewers and moviegoers, this time because it probes the psyche of a current president.

But Stone says the facts are well researched and based on respected sources going back to 2003.

"A lot of books came out during that period," Stone says. "So, a lot of the stuff that we suspected that were going on, we finally verified."

Stone's W. is a heartfelt drama that does not cater to Democrats or Republicans. In the film, President Bush is a tragic figure, but one whose decisions have affected the lives of millions. Just weeks before the U.S. presidential election, the movie sends a message to Americans that voting is serious, not a carefree walk in the park.

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