The movie includes no direct interviews with Palin, but it does feature the former governor reading short excerpts from “Going Rogue.” Bannon said he met with Palin a few weeks ago in Phoenix, where she told him the movie “blew her away.”
The film relies heavily on interviews with about a dozen people, all of them confirmed Palin supporters, including Andrew Breitbart, talk show host Tammy Bruce and Virginia tea party leader (and U.S. Senate candidate) Jamie Radtke. It features ample video footage of her public appearances and speeches as a politician, as well as home movies of her as a small child or dribbling a basketball at Wasilla High School. The film features no interviews with detractors, but it does rely on television news reports and newspaper headlines to lend credibility to the portrayal of her successes as both mayor and governor.
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It also reminds viewers how popular Palin was as an elected leader in Alaska: She won mayoral reelection with more than 70 percent of the vote, and she resoundingly defeated incumbent Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary for governor in 2006. Before she became Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008, her approval rating among Alaskans soared above 80 percent.
The movie is clearly structured to push back against the widely held view that Palin lacks the leadership experience or skills to be president. Bannon compared Palin’s term as governor to that of former President George W. Bush, concluding: “What she accomplished in Alaska is demonstrably much more impressive than what he accomplished as governor of Texas.” He added: “I wouldn’t have made this film if I didn’t think we needed a leader like her, and I hope she runs for president.”
“The Undefeated” has the air of an Errol Morris documentary, not only for its Philip Glass-like soundtrack but for its use of dramatic and sometimes surreal reenactments, such as a female hand wagging a finger meant to be a scolding Palin as she cleaned up government. The similarity to Morris’s work, known for exposing corruption and deep social injustices in such classics as “The Thin Blue Line,” is notable.
Bannon said the movie will be previewed in at least four states with early nominating contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. But he said it is not a political movie but rather a commercial production, so as well as being released across the country, the film will be available on video and through video-on-demand and pay-per-view services.
Although Bannon repeated several times that he maintained complete editorial control over the movie, he noted that the project first took form when two Palin associates, spokeswoman Rebecca Mansour and SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford, contacted him to see if he would produce a series of short videos for distribution on YouTube.
Bannon, who also directed the documentaries “Generation Zero” and “Fire from the Heartland,” declined the offer but then came up with the idea of an independent, feature-length documentary, he said.