For anyone who knows Shakespeare, Nixon is a reminiscent of King Lear in which a man would rise to power but lead to his own downfall. Hopkins gave a bravado performance in his portrayal of Richard Nixon and special thanks to Joan Allen as Pat Nixon. Great writing from Oliver Stone as well.
The most fascinating thing in this movie is obviously Hopkins's acting. His face doesn't carry any resemblance to Nixon's face, but he goes so deep into the character, that at some point he actually starts overcoming his physical features. Anyway, if Stone leaned to more experimental approach here, we'd have a masterpiece.
A sprawling, paranoid epic of whispered conversations and men in ugly suits standing at oddly tilted angles, beautifully filmed by Richardson. Manages to feel both urgent and oppressively endless, like a giant summer thunderstorm shot through with sudden changes in film stock and sprinkles of hamfisted symbolism like flashes of distant lightning. By the end, I was mostly glad I don't live in Stone's White House.
Hyper editing that borders on surreal. Takes the kinetic, dense-with-information-that-constantly-flies-at-your-face style of JFK to a whole new level. The movie effectively puts you in Nixon's paranoid mind for 3.5 hours, and it flies by. My personal favorite of Stone's. It haunts me.
Prospero drifts through his kingdom of shadows. The narrative here is an accumulation of moments investigated by the title character as he sits alone in the Oval Office, examining the library of tapes that will inevitably lead to his downfall. Stone's experiments with 'the form' capture the psychology of the character, deconstructing the reality of his situation through a dizzying array of styles and techniques.
Hopkins is a monster. He does a truly larger than life performance, even if the megalomaniacal and mythomaniac Oliver Stone tries to pass his own paranoia to the Nixon character, Hopkins succeeds in retaining not only the madness but the candor and humanity only seen and heard from a Shakespeare monarch. Overlong and hallucinatory but dense and ultimately compelling.
After viewing this a second time today, I have no question that this is another Stone masterwork, second only to his earlier political thriller JFK. The hit-and-miss nature of Stone's work can be maddening, but at his best - and especially when working with Robert Richardson - he can be a brilliant filmmaker. Stone makes the Nixon story Shakespearean and the editing/cinematography are nothing short of spectacular.
When you remove the filmmaker from the film (which is important in an Oliver Stone production), you get a story about a great human leader with greatly human flaws. Robert Richardson reached his pinnacle as a cinematographer in this perfect balance of experimental camera and attentive narrative.