Henry Fonda president | ICON | EUROtoday

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When Henry Fonda died in 1982 at age 77, Maruja Torres wrote on this newspaper: “His eyes were the best thing he had. It was difficult not to trust someone who looked like that: two steel-gray pillars that seemed to emanate directly from the Constitution, which states that no American citizen can testify against himself. That description of Maruja would be well suited to present one of the best films of the next season, an impressive documentary-essay that, after passing through the Berlinale and the Bafici, in Buenos Aires, can be seen this fall in Spain.

This is the first film by Austrian critic and writer Alexander Horwath, who, over three hours of footage, makes an admirable political x-ray of the United States through the protagonist of young lincolnJohn Ford's film about the American president's younger years.

Horwath's essay is fascinating, and should be required viewing this year in which Donald Trump may return to the White House with unpredictable consequences for the world. Fonda, who considered himself a radical and a rebel without militancy, points out something in the film referring to Ronald Reagan, for whom he had no sympathy, neither personal nor professional, which is chilling to hear today: “Reagan obsesses me so much that it is difficult to talk about it. I think he is leading us to disaster and I am surprised that there is not more opposition to his figure. With it, a path opens from which we will not get out for a long time.” Nothing occurs in a single day, and Fonda appears to warn us that what we’re experiencing now started to take form nearly half a century in the past with the ultraconservative “crusade” of an aspiring actor who had, as the person who performed to Tom Joad of The grapes of wratha harmful expertise that made him “retch”: giving nice speeches wherein he advised folks “what they wanted to hear.”

Frame from the film 'Henry Fonda for president' (2024).
Frame from the movie 'Henry Fonda for president' (2024).Henry Fonda for president

The movie captures horrible historic occasions, such because the lynching of the younger black man William Brown, an atrocious episode that Fonda witnessed as a teen, one thing that marked him for all times. He additionally establishes excellent relationships, for instance, with Jodie Foster. It is a pleasure to take heed to Horwath's reflections on an actor who symbolizes like few others the quintessence of the dignified man of his phrase, of the parable of the great American. That image, together with his lights and shadows, was really somebody very reserved, who was married 5 occasions and had, as a result of his coldness, a really complicated relationship together with his kids. At the tip of his life, the actor turned a farmer and in the event that they flattered him he would bray. A person, surely, from one other period.

But Fonda was neither nor did he need to be a prophet. He was a sullen man, with out the slightest curiosity in himself and “without right answers on any matter.” A man who in his final interview, one of many main threads of the movie, goes as far as to say—in case it hasn't grow to be clear after 4 days of dialog—that he neither has a lot esteem for himself nor considers himself particular: “I hope “I would have been someone better, smarter, I have only had the opportunity to play wonderful guys and that, for someone who doesn't like themselves, is great therapy.”

This column was initially printed within the June 2024 subject of ICON.

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