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New Reagan Documentary Gives a Heartfelt, Realistic Tribute to the President


Image Entertainment and Enduring Freedom Productions have released a new documentary for the 100th anniversary of statesman Ronald Reagan’s birth. “Ronald Reagan: An American Journey” is an inspiring and heartfelt look at who President Reagan was, and at the instances that made his legacy eternal. The film is packed with archival footage of Reagan at his best, capturing those transcendent moments in his presidency that made him great and keep him relevant today.

In 103 minutes, this documentary gives Americans, especially young ones like me who know little of Reagan’s presidency, a complete summary of the historic highlights of Reagan’s eight years in office within its national and international context. The film doesn’t shy away from mistakes Reagan may have made. It isn’t overly worshiping. It simply presents Reagan in his own words, honoring a man who changed the world.

The film begins by putting Reagan’s presidency in its historical setting: a nation pulled apart by warring liberals and conservatives; where Vietnam savagely cut America in two, Nixon’s Watergate had tarnished the GOP, and Carter’s foreign policy had left Democrats looking weak. Reagan brought the nation together by giving Americans a mission: to defeat a true opponent – the U.S.S.R.

From touching dedications and eulogies to rousing speeches and calls to action, the documentary features footage of Governor Reagan’s GOP convention and presidential nomination acceptance speeches, his national address following the Challenger tragedy and, of course, his demand that the Soviet Union tear down the Berlin Wall.

As a Cold War fanatic, I would have appreciated more coverage of Reagan’s fight against the U.S.S.R. and communism, but segments on presidential debates and the dedication of the Kennedy Library were nice touches and great supplements to the expected footage.

Reagan had a dream of America as a “shining city on a hill,” a phrase borrowed from John Winthrop, who had adapted it from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. And as Reagan left office, he saw that “[America] still stands strong and true … and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.” This film explores America before and after Reagan, concisely capturing the enduring effect that his administration had upon the nation.

As the film nears its conclusion, it focuses on a Reagan quote inscribed in granite at the Reagan Library: “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” Reagan lived his life guided by this belief. His defense of the enslaved people in the Soviet Union, of freedom over tyranny every time, are proof.

Reagan said in his address to the 1984 Republican National Convention, “There are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams. … In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America’s is.” On the eve of springtime 2011, the light of Reagan’s legacy is shining more brightly than ever, and this film will help Americans see it for generations to come.

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