While shopping at a Fort Worth Dollar Tree, I happened upon a documentary DVD that caught my eye. The two reasons it did were that it was a film done by Johnathan Demme, (the director of ‘The Silence of The Lambs,’) and that the subject of the film was former President Jimmy Carter.
The director of an iconic horror film doing a documentary on President Carter was something that was odd enough to pique my interest, so I bought it.
The title of the film is ‘Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains.’
I was a young child when President Carter was in office, but I knew and heard things about him that I remembered. There were talks of gas prices, Iran and hostages.
I had heard that he was still active as a statesman and purveyor of peace since then, but I didn’t know much more about the man than that.
The film does a good job at providing insight into President Carter as a person. It comes mostly during a book tour he did for his book ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,’ in 2006/7.
It begins with a clip of Carter’s mother on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson, where she talks about her relationship with her son. The clip is funny, and the late Mrs. Carter is warm. You can tell that she and her son were close.
From there, the former President is shown in modern times on his familial land in Plains, Georgia. He talks about it being in his family for a very long time, and you can see that he has a true appreciation for where he came from.
The film then begins to follow Carter on a tour rife with controversy.
Carter speaks of the war between Palestine and Israel, and about the wall around the Palestinian providences in Israel. He talks about how he’d like to see peace happen between the two factions.
Along the tour, Carter talks to radio stations, T.V. shows, and even takes meetings with Jewish rabbis who stage a protest in front of one of the bookstores he is doing a signing at.
As he states in the movie, he is called a liar, a bigot, an anti Semite, etc. throughout the experience.
It does become clear that most of the media that is talking to him never read his book before they interview him. They are more interested that he used the word ‘apartheid’ in the title.
Myself, I watch more horror films then I do political reports. It is for this reason that I do not make any knowledgeable claims to the state of world affairs, so none will be made here. Admittedly, I have not read the book either, but after viewing the film, do intend to change that.
What I will say is that after viewing the documentary, I feel like I learned more about Carter the man. All throughout the journey he takes, he remains well composed, caring, and focused on the issue at hand. He does not back down from anything, save the opportunity to debate a college professor during a controversial college lecture. The fact that Carter refuses the request seems to me as if he feels it would turn into a verbal slam fest, and not be anything productive.
Overall, Carter is shown as a man with strong ideals, strong faith, and an evident desire to make the world a better place.
And having Demme at the helm of it seems appropriate indeed. For the film comes across as a man who is dealing with what he believes is a world horror, and him doing what he can to try and combat it.
The plot of many great horror films consist of just that very thing.