THE EARLY WORD: For The People, By The People

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POLITICO:  The movie, “By The People: The Election of Barack Obama” screens tonight at the Motion Picture Association of America in Washington in advance of a release on HBO on the anniversary of last year’s election. And it represents a rare glimpse behind the curtain of discipline and discretion that surrounded the Obama campaign – a glimpse that came even though some highly-placed campaign operatives feared the presence of cameras in their midst. It’s this cycle’s version of “The War Room” or “Journeys With George” – the political documentary whose unparalleled access will make it a defining document of the winning presidential campaign. Its creation is all the more remarkable because the “no drama” ethos of Obama’s campaign aides normally entailed closing the campaign’s strategy and internal politics to the political press and vetoing an array of documentary projects. And as the campaign wore on, the growing sense of history in the making – the film is fundamentally sympathetic to Obama, and charts his rise from the perspective of his campaign — appears to have loosened up many of Obama’s aides for the camera. One thing that access reveals is that Obama, behind the scenes, is a lot like the disciplined, careful public man – if perhaps a little more sarcastic, and a lot more interested in the cut and thrust of politics, then he typically lets show. “Even as a film subject – he doesn’t make mistakes,” said Sams. “What you see in public is pretty much what you get; he’s very controlled.” The control falters just once, in the film’s most striking moment: Rice appears to have been holding the only video camera to capture a single tear rolling down Obama’s face at a rally on the eve of the election, a moment preserved in still footage but almost invisible on the evening’s television feeds. MORE

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