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The Manchurian Candidate

Title: The Manchurian Candidate
Directed by:
Jonathan Demme
Written by:
Richard Condon, Daniel Pyne, Dean Georgaris
Year: 2004

Political conspiracies are nice and I like them as long as they are intended to be nothing more than fiction. Strangely enough, I know of fairly few films of this kind, so The Manchurian Candidate is a welcome addition to a genre I would like to discover further. The story takes place in an environment which feels very much like 2004 United States. The plot focuses on young Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), who is his mother’s (Eleanor Shaw, played by Meryl Streep) tool in an attempt to redirect power in the country to a shadowy group of corporate bosses. Everything begun with a mission in the Persian Gulf War of 1990, in whch Raymond Shaw earned the Medal of Honor and so started his career as a politician. But did he really do that? Are his and the other squad members’ memories of the war really genuine? Major Ben Marco (Denzol Washington), who was part of Raymond’s squad, is convinced that something is terribly wrong and he sets out to find out what it is.

I like many aspects of this film. First and foremost, it is very hard to stop watching. Normally, I take pauses when I watch films, but this was extremely hard with The Manchurian Candidate, especially in the first half. The flow of information from the director to the viewer is perfect and this makes the film truly awesome. Added to this, I think the conspiracy theory is intriguing and haunting, because the environment is so close to reality that it almost could have been real. This feeling would of course have been impossible to achieve without good acting, but fortunately that is not something this film lacks. Meryl Streep is excellent as Raymond’s manipulative mother, Liev Shreiber as Raymond himself is also good, which is also true for Denzel Washington, the true protagonist of the film.

To summarise, this amounts to a pretty good film. The only problem I have with it is that I have read Night Chills by Dean Koontz, which makes use of some very similar themes. Of course, The Manchurian Candidate is based on a novel written before Koontz’s, but nevertheless, I still feel that much of the true uniqueness of this film was lost. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that that means that I did not enjoy The Manchurian Candidate. The truth is that I enjoyed it so much that I am prepared to give it four and half snails.

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  1. Martin’s avatar

    “Originalfilmen” från 1962 ska visst också vara bra, ty den ligger på 108nde plats på IMDBs lista vilken vi vet är en tillförlitlig källa.


  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    Coolt, får ta och se den någon gång. Den här filmen tycker jag vann mycket på att den känsdes aktuell och att den utspelar sig “idag”, så frågan är om den gamla åldrats med värdighet. Nu är det förstås väldigt osannolikt att den bedöms som bra av samma anledning, men i alla fall. :)