English 345 Blog Post #3: All the President’s Men

When discussing The Exorcist (1973) last week, we noted how the anxieties of the 1970s  (institutions we no longer trust, children who no longer obey parents, etc.) created the societal ingredients for a horror possession film.  All the President’s Men (1976) seems worlds apart, yet both movies are about troubled times.  In 100 words, comment on one aspect that connects these Washington, DC based films to each other.  Try to also stress technical issues.  For example you might take up the use of music or close-ups.

21 thoughts on “English 345 Blog Post #3: All the President’s Men

  1. Scenes that strike me as similar are the parking garage scene in All the President’s Men and the scene in The Exorcist when Regan is levitating. Both of these scenes involve some type of evil. In All the President’s Men it is the political secrets being told and in The Exorcist it is a literal demon. In both scenes the lighting is dark and has a blue tint. Side-by-side they are strikingly similar. A shadow covers the face of the man in the parking garage. The scene has dramatic dialogue to go along with the dark lighting and dungeon-like location. The political secrets being discussed in such a scene highlights the corruption within Washington, D.C. The evil being exposed is the secrets held by politicians. The Exorcist, on the other hand, is exposing a real demon. In both scenes, the evil is dramatically showing its face. The demon has manipulated Regan to defy laws of gravity and Deep Throat has brought secrets to Woodward and Bernstein that are evil in themselves.

  2. I see a connection between the roles of Father Merrin in The Exorcist and Deep Throat in All the President’s Men. Both characters serve the purpose of representing and defending a wealth of knowledge and affording protection against the institutions that can no longer be trusted. In The Exorcist, Ms. McNeil turns to Father Karras when physicians and their modern medicine fail to fix Regan’s alleged psychiatric problem. Karras turns to none other than the wiser and more practiced Father Merrin. In much the same way, Bob Woodward enlists the help of Deep Throat when the integrity of the US political system is being called into question by what he is uncovering. While both characters are vitally important for their respective film’s resolutions, very little is ever revealed about either. Speaking technically, the comparison between our first prolonged exposure to Father Merrin as he stands facing the statue of Pazuzu and the only setting in which we see Deep Throat, engaged in a back-and-forth conversation with Woodward in a dimly lit parking garage, exposes a different level of connection between the two characters. In the scene from The Exorcist, the sound of dogs fighting morphs into the demonic sounds of Pazuzu while the shot changes from the light of the setting sun to only silhouettes of Merrin and the statue. All the while, the Iraqi guard is watching on, and Merrin is aware of it. In All the President’s Men, the scene is dark and Deep Throat’s face is never clearly seen. While he stands opposite of Woodward, he is not against him like Father Merrin is against Pazuzu. Rather, Deep Throat is fighting against corruption in US politics that is out of shot, metaphorically behind Woodward and the camera angle extending from Deep Throat’s line of sight. In contrast to the jarring sound of the scene in The Exorcist, Deep Throat and Woodward are exceptionally quiet, practically whispering because, unlike with the former, the later film’s success hinges on this scene wrapping without any one else seeing.

  3. “All The President’s Men” can be compared to “The Exorcist” by analyzing the scenes of Woodward nervously running from the parking garage and Father Karras’s dream about his mother dying (going into the subway station.) Both of these scenes epitomize the paranoia involved from the antagonist in the movie; Woodward knows he is approaching a dangerously revealing lead, and Father Karras is feeling the strengthening power of the demon. Both of these scenes do involve a helpless run, which is what made them come to mind, but they also both portray the character involved as very small, being caught up in the overall momentum of something they’ve more or less just stumbled upon.

  4. One aspect that connects these Washington, DC based films is the distinct darkness both films portrait. Corruption is one thing especially that comes to mind whether it be in American politics or the American people. These things are especially portraited in scenes such as when Father Merrin talks to the demon and the camera has close ups on their faces or when Bob Woodward meets with Deep Throat in the dark parking garage. Both instances involve one side in the light and the other in the dark. We can see one side that is searching for the truth or a resolution to an issue to combat evil whereas the other acts as an informant of evil.

  5. The films The Exorcist and All the President’s Men portrayed aspects of institutions losing the trust of the people. In The Exorcist, Chris MacNeil is determined to find out what is wrong with her daughter Regan. Chris takes Regan to several different doctors and phycologists to provide her daughter with the proper treatments, but all the solutions the doctors come up with are wrong. In the film the camera zoomed in on the medical procedures and tests that were performed on Regan. Chris loses her hope and trust in the scientific and medical institution and instead turns to the catholic priest. In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein work to uncover the truth behind the break in and attempted bugging of the democratic headquarters, Watergate. Both journalists discovered the mass corruption in the government and the illegal use of campaign funds. As a result of this discovery, the citizens lost their trust in the government institutions. In the film when vital information was discovered the camera zoomed in on a typewriter typing out the information.

  6. The connection that caught my attention the most in these two films was the lighting. The two scenes that particularly stood out to me were the scenes in the parking garage with Deep Throat in All the President’s Men and the scene where Father Merrick arrives at the MacNeil house. Both scenes make use of backlighting and low-key lighting to make the scenes more suspenseful and dramatic. The lighting in these scenes seems to speak towards both Merrick and Deep Throats characters; they are threatening and powerful people. Deep Throat exposes secrets to Woodard and Bernstein that nobody else is able to provide them, while Merrick helps to exercise Reagan, a service that nobody else is able to fulfill. The lighting used in these two films helps to emphasize the intimidating nature of both characters.

  7. One aspect that both the film The Exorcist and All The President’s Men have in common is the use of stark contrasts in lighting and types of shots to increase the feeling of fear or discomfort. In The Exorcist there were many scenes, mainly at the beginning of the film, with bright lighting and wider shots. One of these scenes is when Regan and her mother are talking about the ouija board in their basement. There is still a bit of uneasiness in that scene, but it’s not nearly as scary as later ones. These scenes contrast to the later scenes of Regan’s full possession and the exorcist where much of the lighting is really dark and there are many closeups of Regan’s possessed face and the priests. All the President’s Men does the exact same thing for moments like the parking garage scene where Woodward learns their lives may be in danger. The contrast of the dark lighting, heavy shadows, and closeups to the brighter lighting in many of the other scenes makes this moment feel more intense and serious.

  8. Between The Exorcist and All the President’s Men the thing that to me connects them is the contents of what mankind see has evil. In the Exorcist it is the Literal Devil and the evil that he brings by possinging Regan and causing poltergeist like things to happen around the house. In All the Presidents Men the evil is the concept of the Watergate scandal and the lengths that humanity will go for a cover up. The evil that needs undercover agents to help expose like the example of Deep Throat, who guided Woodward to things like following the money to help Expose the administration. Both films show that whether its a human evil or a supernatural evil both can show that depending on the situation the lengths they will go to spread it.

  9. In both The Exorcist and All The President’s Men, the characters are fighting against some type of evil. In The Exorcist, Father Merrin and Father Karras are trying to exorcise the demon in Regan, and in All The President’s Men, Woodard and Berstein fight to uncover the truth behind the Watergate scandal. Two scenes that stuck out to me were the arrival of Father Merrin and the parking garage scene where we see Deep Throat. In both, Merrin and Deep Throat are cast in shadows so they can’t be identified, but whereas Merrin walks into the light, Deep Throat stays in the shadows. In All The President’s Men, Woodard contacts Deep Throat to find out more information on the corruption going on in the government. Both are called to aid in the fight against an evil that each is knowledgeable on.

  10. The fear of the unknown is unexpected; it can appear anywhere, anytime, and affect anyone. The dialogue reflects this fear in both All the President’s Men and in The Exorcist, specifically seen with the speed and delivery of lines, which make the characters appear just as normal as anyone else. In The Exorcist, the relationship between Priest Karras and his mother was written accurate to their Greek culture, just like in All The President’s Men, the dialogue between Woodward and Bernstein shows a normal professional relationship. Writing dialogue like that shows that the unexpected can happen to anyone, even normal successful people.

  11. The most deliberate and obvious connection between these two films was the lighting in them. In both films, there is a fight against evil, and the lighting plays a key part in illustrating this evil in both films. Both were created in the similar time period (1970s), so there are bound to be technical similarities simply because of the technical advancements available to them at the time the films were created. However, All The President’s Men opens with very dim and spooky lighting in a parking garage. It’s quiet and eerie, which you interpret from the dim and moody lighting. Similarly, The Exorcist opens with the same lighting elements that feed into creating a certain mood in the film. Although the exorcist opens with more music, it still has a specific lighting focus that illustrates a dark and eerie street reminiscent of the opening in All The President’s Men.

  12. I think one thing that connects both of these films is the theme of corruption and sense of mystery to solve the case surrounding the corruption. It is obviously very different types of corruption, but it is still present in both films. In The Exorcist, Reagan becomes ‘corrupted’ by an evil demon. Her childhood innocence is taken from her. We can see this clearly in the scene where she goes to the doctor. She begins the visit relatively normal, even smiling when her blood is drawn. Then, she slowly gets more and more upset and violent. Her mother will do anything to solve the mystery of the nature of this corruption. We can also see political corruption in All the President’s Men, and Woodward and Bernstein have to solve their own mystery. There is a parallel between the ‘interrogation’ scenes (for lack of a better word) in both movies where they must try and gain enough information to solve their respective mysteries. In All the President’s Men, Deep Throat is ‘interrogated’ twice (like I said I don’t think there’s really a better word) to confirm information, and Reagan (or the demon possessing her???) is interrogated by Damien. Neither one really answers questions at first. Reagan plays with Damien by opening the drawer (supposedly) and not speaking Latin when asked to. Deep Throat does something similar by saying that he will not give information, only confirm it.

  13. One of the biggest ideas that connects these films is the fear of internal corruption and the loss of values. In The Exorcist it is the foreign invader as seen in the opening scene in the faraway lands of Iraq with Father Merrin facing down Pazuzu introducing us right off the bat to the evil that is about to invade our homeland, and even more, invade and corrupt an innocent little girl, making her curse and conduct herself in obscene ways. In All the President’s Men, it is the fear of the corruption of the president and his men, the ones who have been appointed to serve and protect and uphold wholesome American values. Again this film presents the evil that is going to be faced right off the bat, first with footage of Nixon and then transitions right into the bank robbery taking place. Both of these present corruption within two images that are typically seen as virtuous and good, the role of president and a young girl, and presents the evil that corrupts them in the opening scenes.

  14. I think what can connect the two films is infiltration and manipulation. In the Exorcist, it’s Regan’s possession, and in All the President’s Men, it’s the Watergate scandal and the corruption supporting it. Regan is possessed and no longer has control over herself, and the entity even finds a way to harm those around her. Her possession allows for the manipulation of characters such as Burke and even leads to his death. In All the President’s Men, there is the CREEP organization who is willing to do whatever need be to ensure Reagan is re-elected. The scandal leads to manipulation of the truth and people, whether it is to hide the truth or uncover it.

  15. The use of lighting and contrast is very prevalent in both All the President’s Men and The Exorcist, the scenes filmed at night have very a similar eerie quality to them, which can be seen most notably on the The Exorcist’s theatrical poster, a male silhouette under a street lamp. Another cinematic technique that these films both employ stem from traditional crime movies, the element of mystery, following the evidence trail. A scene that comes to mind from The Exorcist that speaks on this specific cinematic parallel clocks in at around the 1 hour and 26 minute mark, our struggling father, Damien Karras, looks upon a collage of Regan’s drawings pinned to the wall as if he is solving some sort of crime, the way this “evidence” is presented mirrors the scenes of coffee fueled investigation that Woodward and Bernstein conducted in All the President’s Men. Both films touch on feelings of distrust in the government, both during and after the Watergate scandal, by framing our narrative story in a cloak of mystery. Regan’s mother sought answers about her daughter’s condition and was met empty handed, until the most outrageous answer landed at her feet. The Washington Post journalists, Woodward and Bernstein, were met with similar absurd answers and dead-ends along their way to discovering the truth.

  16. Although The Exorcist and All the President’s Men tackle very different topics and tones, there are some similar threads and comparisons that can be made because of their similar setting and time period. Both use shots of dark DC streets to create a dramatic and spooky atmosphere. Both used well-known DC locations and monuments as back drops. Both displayed a distrust in institutions relevant at the time. In The Exorcist, we see Chris MacNeil going to a series of doctors and specialists to try and figure out what is wrong Regan, only to be repeatedly told it is a psychosomatic issue by doctors who are unable to help. In All the President’s Men, we see sequences of Bernstein and Woodward calling sources who won’t give them anything, trying to get enough information to take expose a corrupt institution. Both of these play into the same institutional distrust.

  17. A major similarity that stood out to me when watching both The Exorcist and All the President’s Men was their exploration of corruption through their use of snappy cuts and closeups that linger throughout the most emotional scenes. Both are films that use very striking imagery to instill some kind of visceral reaction in the viewer: the repetitive cuts and closeups of a frustrated Woodward going through dead-end number after dead-end number, culminating in him doodling an unflattering caricature of Nixon in his notes, says as much for the cycle of government corruption as does the continuous focus of newspaper headlines and television interviews that haunt the viewer even when we should get relief in Nixon’s inevitable resignation–as gunshot-like cannons still celebrate his swearing to uphold to the ideals of the Constitution, mixing with the flurrying clicks of typewriter that becomes auditorily nauseating the more it goes on until the credits roll all but confirms that the government is not the moral standard for justice they’d like us to believe, but is instead rotten to the core. Comparatively, the graphic closeups and ligering of Reagan’s body mutilations—for instance, the famous scene of her stabbing herself in the genitals in a gruesome, bloody mockery of masturbation and twisting her head 180 degrees, swearing like a sailor as her horrified mother cries in the background, seems almost a parody of the parental fears of puberty taken to the worst extremes: swearing, sexual urges, a sudden temper, and your body going through changes you can’t control nor entirely comprehend—corruption of the innocence, and the filmmakers linger and drink in Reagan’s horrifying transformation and the reaction of the other characters to really sell just how horrifying these changes really are to a girl so young.

  18. The scene in the parking garage vaguely reminds me of the scene of Regan levitating in The Exorcist. Both of these have the essence of evil and even the devil. All the President’s men as well as The Exorcist are filmed with a dark, harsh lighting, with a blue tin. Shadows cover the character’s faces which adds to the sense of evil.

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