Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Oscar Doc Contender 'Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia' Shows the Literary Lion's Intimate Side

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood November 19, 2014 at 3:42PM

Nicholas Wrathall met Gore Vidal for the first time at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They had brunch on an Easter Sunday while a life-size bunny gallivanted about the restaurant—a “surreal” experience, according to the director—but quickly connected over a discussion about the politics of Wrathall’s native Australia.
0
Gore Vidal

Nicholas Wrathall met Gore Vidal for the first time at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They had brunch on an Easter Sunday while a life-size bunny gallivanted about the restaurant -- a "surreal" experience, according to the director -- but quickly connected over a discussion about the politics of Wrathall’s native Australia.

Wrathall's debut feature, the documentary "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia," opened in summer 2014 with distribution by IFC Films. The project began in earnest in 2005, when Burr Steers, Vidal’s nephew (as well as a producer on the film), told his friend Wrathall that the writer would be moving out of the home in Ravello, Italy that he had shared with his longtime companion Howard Austen since 1972. Wrathall jumped on a plane for Europe, filming Vidal’s farewell to his beloved Villa La Rondinaia and the beautiful Amalfi town around it.

It took almost ten years for Wrathall to finish "Gore Vidal," and he faced such financial challenges during the project that he nearly scrapped it. "It was a difficult process," he told me in a phone interview from Australia. "I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone -- it’s not financially viable really. But if you’re passionate about a project, you’ve just got to be determined and tenacious. I’m very stubborn, I guess -- I didn’t want to let go."

That dogged tenacity describes both the filmmaker and his subject: Vidal stands alone among his fellows as the American author most committed -- almost obsessively so -- to examining our nation’s body politic to understand just what the heck this country is all about. And, remarkably, he did so for many years from the remove of his home in Ravello, which he said gave him the distance and perspective to see America as it truly is. 

Wrathall’s film is at its best when it conveys the astonishing breadth of Vidal’s writing and opinions, and it wisely lets the author speak for himself as much as possible. Through the writer’s work, "Gore Vidal" makes a compelling case about the changes that have transformed the American political system in the last decade (and half-century and century), and Wrathall marshals the evidence powerfully but subtly, bringing his own opinions but employing them to augment, rather than overpower, Vidal’s own.

This article is related to: Gore Vidal, IFC Films, Documentary, Independents, Interviews, Interviews, Documentaries, Awards, Awards Season Roundup


E-Mail Updates