Studio:A&E Year: 2011 Cast: Barack Obama, David Axelrod, John McCain, Marty Nesbit, Michelle Obama, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Craig Robinson, David Mendell, Rodd Houston Director: various Release Date: August 14, 2012 Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable) Run Time: 00h:45m:00s Genre(s): biography
"I stand here knowing that my story is part of a larger American story." - Barack Obama
A repackaging of a biography of Barack Obama that includes some superficial updates to attempt relevance for its release just prior to the 2012 Presidential election. Not a good effort from A&E on this. A fantastic American story of an American President deserves better.
Movie Grade: C+
DVD Grade: D+
Barack Obama: From His Childhood to the Presidency is the same Biography episode about Barack Obama that has been around since 2007, updated and released multiple times. Besides being an old biography with supercial additional material added on, there just isn't any way to recommend this to anyone except someone who has never seen it. In fact, there is every reason to feel indignant that such a lame repackaging job is being perpetrated until one realizes the market and money stream they are shooting for here. Not really intended for home viewer purchase, this one is for schools, libraries and other facilities that order such material for education purposes.
The program here is only 45 minutes, which is further reduced by that Biography style of recapping where the show left off before a commerical break. There seemed to be a lack of available material because this show repeats several video segments and shows some out of time sequence. There must have been some difficulty in obtaining access or rights to much of the more recent material. To be truthful, the subtitle might be "A Very Superficial Intro To Barack Obama's Life for Children." There are several quotes from people who knew Obama or covered his politics and these are rarely much more than slightly interesting, with the exception of Maya Soetoro-Ng, who gives some real insight into Obama as a young man struggling with his identity. Some of the archival footage of intriguing but unfortunately is inevitably brief.
Nothing can be taken away from the amazing story of Barack Obama's life. From the circumstances of his birth to his rise through education and then into politics, it captures an essential quality of what American life is now. Born from an interracial marriage that was illegal in many of the states that Obama is now President of and raised in a confusing series of locations, Obama has overcame an amazing series of obstacles. One of the strongest aspects of his appeal as a politician is that fact strength of his drive to helpe people from community organizing in Chicago to naturally climbing the poltical ladder in Illinois to national prominence. No longer is the white Anglo-Saxon path to power the only route. We see this in ticket of the party of the old guard political power Republicans as they are preparing to nominate a Mormon and a Catholic for President and Vice-President. One can only imagine who might be spinning in their grave at the thought of that.
This documentary steers clear of controversy without much mention of the intense hatred of Obama that is alive and festering on the right wing. The presidential campaign gets very short shrift and while it seems laudable to include some aspects of Obama's presidency, the lack of anything other than the barest restatement of factual information is unsatisfying. A&E should do itself a favor and keep this original Biography episode and include it as an extra on a new quality telling of Barack Obama's life. It would extremely valuable to have a straightforward professional retelling of the life of the 44th President of the United States. The history of our country should not be left to the Breitbarts of the world.
The video quality is poor to awful and is in a typically ugly full-frame television format that is jarring on the eyes. No extras on the disc and this makes one wonder why they even bothered to release this disc. It's certainly headed to the cut-out bin and will no doubt join similar biographies of George W. Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin, John Kerry and others for sale on Amazon for pennies.