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'In the Face of Evil': Reagan, From the Right

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 29, 2004; Page WE41

Based on Peter Schweizer's book "Reagan's War," the movie (which Schweizer exec-produced) traces a line of causality that goes from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 to the Cold War. It goes something like this: A "beast" arose from "the fever swamp" of World War I and "played upon man's yearning for a utopian solution to its abject misery, a quasi-religious criminal taking the form of a political messiah." Basically, this beast represents all the evil 'isms of the 20th century: Bolshevism, communism, fascism and Nazism, all of which advocated state control and power as their goal. All metaphorical beasts need metaphorical heroes, like Ronald Reagan.

This is the sort of film that will make its target audience, presumably religious, right-wing Christians, heartened and possibly misty-eyed. But it's likely to provoke hooting and hollering in less reverent circles. Being single-minded in purpose, "In the Face of Evil" takes a wide berth around issues and events inconvenient to its narrative propulsion. In its mythic retelling of Reagan's life, for instance, the members of the counterculture that Reagan fought as California governor are little more than kissing cousins of the beast.

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The movie's biggest selling point, that Reagan brought down the house of the USSR, has much merit, in that Reagan spearheaded a concerted effort to dismantle the Soviet machine. But the movie plays down the almost innumerable contributing factors, including the Soviet Union's internal economic collapse. (The USSR was an empire, journalist and international studies author Josef Joffe recently wrote in the National Interest, that "died in bed.") This is for the pre-converted, certainly not the left, or even those who consider themselves detached observers.

IN THE FACE OF EVIL: REAGAN'S WAR IN WORD AND DEED (PG-13, 110 minutes) --Contains footage of historical atrocities. At National Amusements Reston and Cineplex Odeon Wisconsin Avenue.

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