". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vidal vs. Buckley

Due to my interest in Gore Vidal, the historical fiction author of what has been called Narratives of Empire, I am interested in this film, Best of Enemies, as well. 

Vidal did know his history, and particularly he understood how history could be and often, even usually, deliberately re-written,  facts left out, selectively cited, revised, manipulated to tell the story the historian wished to tell -- rather than the real story, so to speak.

Vidal did it himself  in his Narratives of Empire, partly as style and reflection of the eras the novels re-created, while always reminding the reader that fiction cannot be trusted.  (I've never quite forgiven him for his mendacious portrait of President Grant in1876: A Novel (1976) -- here we see a bit too much of Henry Adams's influence on Vidal.) The Narratives are an ongoing lesson in both writing history and historical fiction for me, to read, listen to, watch Vidal's process and objective in creating his picture of the U.S. throughout his life, in everything he did, including running for office.  He was among the more interesting and valuable Americans the U.S. has produced.

Press Release for Robert Gordon's Best of Enemies follows: 

My latest documentary, “Best of Enemies”—about the debates and feud between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal—opens in NY, LA, Toronto and Vancouver this Friday 7/31.  I made the film with Morgan Neville, and Magnolia Pictures is rolling it out around the country in August.  Opening weekend is very important to an arthouse film and we’d love for you to come out this weekend to attend. Tell your friends too. Tweet, post, tattoo! A good opening weekend means a wider reach to follow. Best of Enemies has received almost universally positive reviews—from across the political spectrum. The film does not take sides in the argument, but makes us consider how we argue. Both Buckley and Vidal were tremendous wits, so the film is very funny. Until it’s not. Below are links to the trailer, to some reviews, and to theaters we’ll be expanding to over the next couple months (the list can increase or diminish, based on opening weekend (it’s a crazy way to do business; we’re hoping it doesn’t rain this weekend in NY)). Sharing information anytime is great, but especially Thursday July 30 and Friday July 31, if you could post or email to remind people it’s opening Friday July 31, we’d be very appreciative.
Here is the trailer: 
Here’s theater info:
Here are the websites:  
A review from the Hollywood Reporter:
Coverage from the New York Times: 
In New York, we are opening at IFC downtown and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas uptown.In Los Angeles, we are at the Landmark 12.In Toronto, we are at the TIFF Lightbox.In Vancouver, we are at Fifth Ave. Cinemas.
Some of the nice things people are saying:"Outstanding. There could scarcely be any documentary more enticing, scintillating and downright fascinating.”  -  The Hollywood Reporter“A delicious spectacle” - Newsweek “Witty, nasty and laugh-out-loud hilarious” - Movie NationJuicy and thrilling” - The Guardian“Superbly entertaining.”  - New York Magazine"Thoroughly engrossing.” - Joe Leydon, Variety
Facebook - - @VidalBuckleyDoc#BestofEnemies
 Thank you, thank you very much! Robert Gordon

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