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Documentary - By the People - The Election of Barack Obama

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By the People - The Election of Barack Obama
Directed by Amy Rice and Alicia SamsDocumentary
HBO Documentary Films - Sony Pictures 2009
116 minutes

The HBO documentary DVD By the People – The Election of Barack Obama is very good but it is not remarkable. It does not rise enough above being a documentary about a political campaign while the campaign it covers was more than ordinary and definitely historic. You would expect By the People – The Election of Barack Obama to interest more than political junkies but it does not quite do so.

The film follows Senator Barack Obama from before he Iowa caucuses to election night 08. Amy Rice and Alicia Sams were given unprecedented access to the campaign but not especially generous access to Obama himself.  Still, some of the backstage and campaign headquarters footage is quite special.

The documentary focuses on Obama campaigning and on a few key advisors and campaign workers like Tommy Vietor and Ronnie Cho. Cho is the most interesting insider here and his scenes best show the goings on in the campaign.

The presidential campaign is given only the last 30 some minutes of the documentary and very little is shown or revealed here.

You do get how emotional election night was and you somewhat get the reaction of Obama’s people at hearing the victory news but it is somewhat distant.

I always hate it when I see footage of a candidate or group using kids in their campaign. There is however a very funny scene here where a seven-year-old is calling for Obama and talks to someone who obviously does not have his political savvy.

Special features on this HBO documentary are a decent enough directors’ commentary track, deleted scenes, and a Making Of.

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