As a presidential election with enormous national security stakes approaches, a stirring theatrical film hailing Ronald Reagan’s victory over communism and setting the context for the current threat to world peace is planned for release Oct. 1.
Publicist Bob Angelotti, whose marketing team also promoted the blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” told WorldNetDaily he just returned from the Republican convention where word of the documentary, “In The Face Of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed,” has generated a buzz.
“People are excited about the fact that there is a possible conservative version of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’” he said, adding he hopes the scope of the Reagan documentary’s impact will challenge the controversial Michael Moore film.
Based on Peter Schweizer’s acclaimed best-seller “Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism,” the film paints a grim picture of the bloodiest century in world history, with the more than 150 million, perhaps as many as 200 million, who died at the hands of totalitarian regimes.
But in the middle of that century, the filmmakers argue, arose a man of strong moral courage and principle who called evil by its name and resolutely declared, in the face of scorn, that the world had no other choice but to crush it.
Radio talk host Rush Limbaugh, who screened the film, called it “a brilliant effort,” showing Reagan’s persistence after four decades of being pushed to the sideline and mocked for his stance.
“And it was Ronald Reagan, not the Neville Chamberlains and not the pacifists and not the John Kerry types (although John Kerry is not in the movie), that enable us to win over those forces that are going to attempt to subjugate us to a life of imprisonment and no freedom,” Limbaugh said.
Commenting from the Republican convention, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said, “On many levels, the message of this picture moved me as an American and as a patriot, as ‘The Passion of the Christ’ moved me as a Christian.”
Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
“This brilliantly crafted film not only details how Ronald Reagan’s vision and uncompromising courage secured the future of the United States by ending Soviet communism, it also reveals the heart and soul of a great man and his faith in God, the American people and our way of life,” he said.
Angelotti said the film, distributed through American Vantage Media’s Non-Fiction Films unit, will open in early October in about 10 markets then expand nationwide just before the election. While the initial areas could change, some of the possible targets are Denver, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Orange County, California.
The publicist plans a grass-roots campaign, similar to “The Passion,” that will include mobilizing churches and pro-Reagan groups.
Director and co-writer Stephen K. Bannon, who has been working on the film for two years, calls it a “tough, hard war film on an epic scale.”
“This is not a documentary with just talking heads,” he told WorldNetDaily. “This is a war film with a lot of action and footage people haven’t seen, much of it obscure.”
That includes the film’s haunting introduction by the late Reagan, derived from rare footage, which is seen in the two-minute trailer. The film, which runs one hour and 47 minutes, also features Reagan’s rarely seen BBC debate with Bobby Kennedy.
“The majority of the footage in the film even Reagan aficionados haven’t seen,” Bannon said, “particularly with the way you see it.”
A two-and-a-half hour version on DVD and video will be released after the theatrical run.
Bannon uses the arc of Reagan’s life as the centerpiece of the documentary, but examines the whole century, beginning with the collapse of the old world system during World War I. He argues the that Cold War, actually a hot war fought on many fronts, was the Third World War, and we now face World War IV, the conflict with radical Islam.
“The film shows a consistency in how Western society has tried to wish these threats away and mock individuals who stood up against them, whether Churchill or Reagan or the advocates of the modern war on Islamo-fascism,” he said.
“Eventually it comes down to moral clarity, good versus evil,” stated Bannon. “There is no middle ground. These things cannot be negotiated away.”
Schweizer says the “same circles who for years advised that we needed to cooperate with communism because it could not be defeated, are now telling us the same as it relates to Islamic fascism. Reagan proved them wrong and shows us how to win this war.”
The film displays “how consistently wrong the Left has been,” says producer Tim Watkins.
“They want to compromise, to negotiate with evil,” he said. “There’s only one way to defeat evil and achieve victory – no compromise.”
No ‘amiable dunce’
Bannon, a Naval officer during the Carter and Reagan administrations, said he wants history to record the real Ronald Reagan.
“Reagan is presented by the media as everyone’s favorite uncle and toastmaster in chief,” he said. “But in this film we don’t have an image of him smiling – if it’s there, it’s fleeting. This is Reagan as war leader.
“Anyone who thinks he’s an amiable dunce who just happened to be around at the right time in history – well, not all may be convinced by this film, but it will be the basis of arguments for many years to come.”
Bannon emphasizes Reagan was a man of “word and deed.” While Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter all began their administrations talking tough about communism, they softened after settling into office, he said.
In contrast, Reagan “had very set opinions, gave specific guidance and was an active, guiding force to destroy communism on his watch.”
The director said his aim is to set the scene for the audience and let them come to conclusions about how its message applies to today’s crisis.
“The last 15 minutes of the film are very disturbing,” he said. “But we leave it open; we’re not trying to dictate to the audience.”
Bannon sees the film as an opportunity for those upset by the standard Hollywood fare to send a message.
“You’re going to have a film you can be proud of,” he said. “But people will need to go to a theater and buy a ticket and get their friends to go.”