“Frost/Nixon” is a 2008 historical drama directed by Ron Howard, based on the Peter Morgan play of the same name, which is based on the famous 1977 television interviews between popular British TV host David Frost and former president of the United States Richard Nixon. The interviews were successful during their initial airing in May 1977, generating revenue and discussion. Peter Morgan adapted these interviews to the stage, performing with stars Michael Sheen and Frank Langella to rave reviews in famous theatres in London and then America. Following their success, Ron Howard decided to adapt the play to film– starring the same two actors from the play in the same two roles.
Michael Sheen stars as David Frost, the British TV host who decides to throw all of his resources into securing an interview with then disgraced former president Richard Nixon. The film’s primary focus is on the preparation and dedication of Frost on his task– making these interviews as successful as possible. While it may sound like a boring premise, if you find any interest in history, and particularly this era history, then the entire film is gripping. There is intensity in the preparation process– we are behind the scenes in seeing how much effort Frost puts into the interviews, and how crucial they really are to his career.
On the other side, Frank Langella stars as Richard Nixon, the former president famous mostly for the Watergate scandal. When on screen, Langella as Nixon controls it. He holds an air of intelligence that seems almost out of reach from that of Frost. He is formidable both physically and mentally, setting up the idea of a sort of ‘David v. Goliath’ (or David v. Richard…ha?) battle. That said, Nixon isn’t portrayed as completely the enemy. We do start to see breaks in the armor and are allowed to sympathize with the character. Minnesota college student and film enthusiast Adam W. notes that: “The acting was very believable, they added real emotion to the characters and made it seem much more life
That said, there are many bits of this film that was criticized for its historical inaccuracies. Historians quickly pointed out ways that the work over emphasized the importance of the interviews and did indeed completely fabricate some of the details. The film isn’t meant to be viewed as a direct depiction of events, however, as there is a lot of creative license used and it is dramatized for effect.
Overall, it’s one of the best historical dramas available. Anyone with an interest in 20th century history, particularly involving Watergate or the presidency of Nixon, will be thoroughly entertained by both the performances of the actors and the in depth story.