Millions saw history made as Barack Obama took the podium on election night. But few witnessed his unguarded moments in the hours and days before he greeted the nation â¦ until now. Meet the man who would be president and the dedicated campaign workers who helped get him there in this unprecedented documentary trailing their history-making odyssey to the White House. Witness never before seen footage of Obama behind the scenes, as well as interviews and candid moments with family, senior campaign staff, volunteers, reporters, supporters and even opponents.
Whatever one thinks of his performance as President, there can be no doubt that the two campaigns and election that put Barack Obama in the White House, all chronicled in By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, were extraordinary events in American history. Directors Amy Rice and Alicia Sams appear to be Obama fans, but their documentary is not a liberal tract. They don't devote a lot of time to policy; nor do we see more than brief excerpts of the public speeches delivered by Obama and his rivals for the Democratic candidacy, including Senator Hillary Clinton, or Senator John McCain, his opponent in the general election. The emphasis is much more on the day-to-day work that went on behind the scenes, whether by top campaign officials (like chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe) or by the countless others who devoted themselves to the undertaking (including a 9-year-old boy in Iowa who tries futilely to explain to one voter just who Barack Obama is), from before the official announcement of Obama's candidacy in February '07 to election day on November 4, '08. These were people who were galvanized into action by the candidate's soaring oratory and magnetic appeal (hindsight also affords us the interesting opportunity to witness the comments of those who were so sure that he didn't stand a chance). They experience plenty of triumphs along the way (Obama's win at the Iowa caucuses, his victories in numerous states on "Super Tuesday," his acceptance of the Democratic nomination in Denver) and endure a few controversies as well (notably Obama's associations with former terrorist Bill Ayers and the vitriolic Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the latter of which stoked the inevitable fires of racism). Yet what comes through most of all is their incredible emotional commitment; although we obviously know the outcome already, it's impossible not to be moved by their reactions when they realize their efforts have finally paid off. Bonus material includes directors' commentary, bonus scenes, and a making-of featurette. --Sam Graham
Stills from By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (Click for larger image)