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Brevet, Brad. "'W.' Truths With Screenwriter Stanley Weiser." N.p., 27 October 2008.
The screenplay writer Stanley Weiser talks about the finished product of the film W. in comparison to the script he wrote. He was pleased with it, but he wishes there was a little more humor. Some of the content, such as Bush's use of profane language and a scene characterizing Karl Rove had to be censored in order to make the film PG-13 and because the budget for the film was so small. Weisner also talks about the historical accuracy of the film and the dialogue. Most of Bush's lines, which make up about a quarter of the script, are based on real quotations. The rest of the dialogue was written by Weisner but based on true events and on the personalities of the characters.
Fleming, Michael. "Oliver Stone votes for 'Bush' project." Variety 20 January 2008.
Stone is well known as a strong Bush critic. He strongly opposed the decision to invade Iraq. However, when making the film, he was not looking to bash the President. Rather, he wanted to explain how he came into power using a "behind-the-scenes approach." He says that he has empathy for Bush as a person and that his strongly liberal political views have been turned into a cliche.
Goodridge, Mike. "Interview: Oliver Stone." Screen Daily 30 May 2008.
The film is set in three acts -- Bush as a troubled young man, Bush's transformation as he finds God and gives up drinking, and, finally, his decision to invade Iraq. Stone says that Bush is one of the most enthralling characters of the modern era. He is interested by the amount of affection that still remains for him in the heartland of America despite his obvious political mistakes. Stone feels that Bush brought religion into the government more than most previous presidents had, so it was very important to emphasize that aspect of his personal life in the film.
James, Nick. "The Greatest Story of Our Time." Sight and Sound 18.12 (Dec. 2008): 18-21.
The film is sectioned into three parts: Bush as a reckless frat boy, Bush converted into the world of politics and religion, and his rise to power as the president. Stone pressed to release the film less than a month before the 2008 election because he believes that Bush's impact as a historical figure is huge -- comparable to Lincoln's. Bush shows the insanely short attention span of the American people, who elected him to office not once, but twice, though he was obviously an incompetent leader who hurt the nation via three wars, overspending, and overreacting at a pivotal time in the nation's history. He even changed the nation's foreign policy so that we now support preemptive strike. The film is a companion of sorts to Nixon, another president with a terrible legacy. Originally, Nixon was meant to be the companion to JFK, since both were leading historical figures in Stone's life. However, Nixon and Bush are more closely related, as Nixon was the father to Reagan and Reagan was the father to Bush. Bush is "the product of a system that was around for a long time."
Noah, Timothy "Dubya, Stoned: Why Oliver Stone had to bowdlerize our president's life story." Slate Magazine 17 October 2008.
Bush's life is a series of film-worthy experiences. Though there were a few details that were altered for the sake of making the film interesting, for the most part the events portrayed were historically accurate. In fact, there are a few quotes and events that happened during Bush's presidency that could have added to his caricature as an extremely conservative president that Stone chose to leave out. For example, in 1999, Bush openly mocked Karla Tucker, a woman on death row who had asked him to spare her life. However, this scene, and others similar to it, were left out of the film. It seems that Stone toned down his portrayal of Bush, possibly because the truth was too ugly and uncomfortable to watch.
Oldham, Gabriella. "Cutting Remarks on W.: An Interview with Julie Monroe, Joe Hutshing and Wylie Stateman." Cineaste: America's Leading Magazine on the Art and Politics of the Cinema 34.2 (2009): 33-37.
Unlike other films by Stone, W. is not heavy-handed, partially because Bush was still in office when the film was released. Stone tried to avoid caricatures and to be different from Michael Moore, whose films are extremely critical and bombastic. He didn't want to humiliate the president or any members of his cabinet because that "would have been too easy." The film puts a large emphasis on dialogue; there are many intricate and pivotal conversations. There is also a great emphasis on sound, especially ghosting -- when the sounds from one scene continue on to the next one. For example, in the scene in which Bush is running after a night of heavy partying, the bird chirping and thunder Bush hears when he collapses are continued on into the next scene when he is talking to the reverend. This technique shows that the collapse and the religious awakening are related and serves as a form of foreshadowing. There is also a "churchy" score for the film that underscores the religious subtext. Other songs that were included in the score were "Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Robin Hood," which suggest Bush's false sense of grandeur and importance. Essentially, W. is a film that portrays the feeling of failure in the wake of Bush's first term. His story is meant to be perceived as a tragic one.
Svetkey, Benjamin. "First Look: W., Oliver Stone's Bush Biopic." Entertainment Weekly 7 May 2008.,,20198476,00.html
The timing of W. makes it automatically provocative, as Bush will still be in office when it is released, and it is being released during an election year, so it may influence the 2008 election. Stone said publicly that the film will be a fair portrayal of the president, but many critics accuse him of trying to sway the election. There is much debate over the movie's accuracy. Historian Robert Draper said that the film "just misses the guy . . . you come away with an even more hyperbolized caricature of Bush the Cowboy President than is already out there." However, Stone maintains that he is just trying to make a film about an extremely interesting and humorous president.
Toplin, Robert Brent. "W." Journal of American History 96.1 (2009): 315-18.
The film offers an empathetic perspective on the president, showing some of his more likable characteristics. However, it still makes the audience wonder how a man with so many flaws could have become the president. The film definitely blames Bush's simpleminded approach to political issues for some of the mistakes during his presidency, but it also shows that members of his cabinet were, at least in part, responsible for manipulating the president. Stone is critical of the decision to invade Iraq. It is clear that most of Bush's cabinet members were wrongfully confident in the existence of weapons of mass destruction, which were never actually found. He presents a conspiracy theory, showing Vice President Cheney arguing the monetary merits of involvement in the Middle East and saying "There is no exit strategy." The film suffered poor box office sales, as most political films do. While creating his film, Stone had to come up with a way to engage the audience despite the fact that his film dealt with the same issues as almost all other political films -- corruption, deception, and the abuse of power. He attempted to do this by portraying Bush in a more empathetic light than expected. He does not mock Bush's religious conversion, and he shows him as a charismatic, fun-loving man. When exploring Bush's psychological motivations, Stone does, however, criticize Bush's religious fervor for making him unable to view multiple aspects of a situation. He also explores the idea that Bush is motivated by a desire to prove that he is more apt as president than his father was. Many prominent members of the Republican party, including Karl Rove and Jeb Bush, made it clear that this assertion was ludicrous.
Stone's portrayal of Bush was sympathetic. He is shown as a man struggling to do the right thing but ultimately failing. A number of the scenes in the motive were fact-checked by the New York Post. The scene in which he gets into a fight with his father, asking him if he wanted to "go manna a manna right here" is based on a true event, as is the one where he says that he wants to run for president "because God told him to." The scene where Condoleezza Rice says that Morocco will help the United States out by giving them trained monkeys, however, is not very historically accurate. Though a report about the use of 2,000 trained simians surfaced in 2003, it was never confirmed by the Moroccan embassy.

See Also

Detmering, Robert. "Exploring the Political Dimensions of Information Literacy through Popular Film." Portal: Libraries and the Academy 10.3 (2010): 265-82.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Online Resources

The Colbert Report
October 9, 2008. Great comedy over this "left-wing nut job" doing a film showing "empathy" with Bush.
Fact-Checking Oliver Stone's 'W.' — Is The Film True To Life? 8 October 2008.
The film makes a number of bold assertions, the validity of which are explored here. In the film, Bush got a girl pregnant; in reality, there is a rumor that he had a relationship that resulted in a pregnancy and that he arranged for the girl to get an abortion, though he is pro-life and abortions were then illegal in Texas. However, Bush has never commented on the rumor. Also, the film shows that Bush loves the musical Cats, which Stone says is a fact that his research team uncovered. Further, the film featured a character named Jack Hawk, who hosted a conservative program called Spinball, and who was full of praise for Bush. In reality, this man does not actually exist but is a compilation of many American reporters. Finally, Bush crashes his car into a garage in a fit of anger after a bad debate. This event actually occurred. After he asked Laura Bush how his speeches were going and she said "terribly," he drove his Pontiac Bonneville into the garage wall.
Oliver Stone
Interview on Bill Moyers' show
Oliver Stone On "W"
Bush's story is one of the most interesting and incredible stories of the last twenty years. Bush was an improbable president, and he has drastically changed the world during his eight years in office. Stone emphasizes that there is a difference between sympathy and empathy when portraying a historical figure. He feels empathetic towards Bush. As a filmmaker, it is his job to understand the characters of his film. He tries to see where Bush was coming from. He doesn't, however, sympathize with Bush. He is still critical of him and his decision to invade Iraq, especially as a veteran of the Vietnam War. The film is essentially a character study in three acts that culminates in a portrayal of the man Bush had become by the time he was in office.
Oliver Stone talks to Maddow about 'W.' MSNBC-TV. The Rachel Maddow Show.
In the last few days of Bush's presidency it is easy to forget that he is still president. His word has almost no value to it. As he tries to reassure the American people about the economy, it just tanks more. Stone says that Bush is a profoundly narrow-minded man, but it is important to understand him and why we elected him and got to the place where we are today. He is a "mindset" that we elected, the cowboy ethic. Even when he was wrong throughout his two terms, he wouldn't back down. In general, Stone makes his film by responding viscerally to his life experiences. He served time in Vietnam, which made him vehemently anti-war, and that experience greatly contributed to the way he perceived Bush and his decision to invade Iraq. He says that the Bush presidency was an extremely difficult time for him as a filmmaker, because he feels that all the cinematic work he did creating three films about the Vietnam War was pointless as it did not stop the Iraq War from occurring. Stone also commented that he didn't necessarily make the movie with the 2008 election in mind, but for the long term -- he was interested in who would be elected in 2020 or 2030.
Stavis, Carley. "Fact-Checking Oliver Stone's ‘W.'" City on a Hill Press 30 October 2008.
"The story of George W. Bush's rise to the highest office in America delivers comedy and drama while inspiring a certain surprising level of empathy. And it couldn't have come at a better time. The film lives up to Stone's intention of reminding voters, prior to the big day on Nov. 4, just what the last eight years have done to this country. Whether this film wholly represents the truth, however, is not so cut-and-dry. Here's a fact-check of some of the representations made in the film."
Tobias, Scott. "Interview: Oliver Stone." The A.V. Club 16 October: 2008.,14318/
The film can be described as a "tragicomic journey." The issue of the timing of the film is pivotal. Many film critics wonder if Stone would have had more insight if he had waited a few years to make the film and if it was not about a sitting president. However, Stone says that the situation was urgent, and the film needed to be made. In 2008 the nation was in a bad place, and a filmmaker needed to step in and show his or her perspective on President Bush. Bush's legacy will remain negative even in the future. Stone's goal was to create a film that would pass the test of time and still be relevant in twenty years. He wanted to show how Bush was perceived by his contemporaries and to emphasize the significance of the Bush Doctrine. He also agrees with the idea that some of Bush's actions during his presidency were just him acting out against his father, trying to prove that he was stronger and more competent.
W.: The Film.
This website was created by Stone as a companion to the film, providing factual evidence for details from almost every scene. For example, the first section goes into detail about Bush's love of baseball, mentioning that he began watching his father play when he was a child and how when he later owned the Texas Rangers, he would love to walk around the outfield, literally calling it his "own personal field of dreams." It also explains other parts of the film, such as Bush's use of nicknames for his cabinet members.
Wood, Robin, updated by R. Barton Palmer. "Oliver Stone." Film Reference.
Factual information and brief essay on the director.