A&E // 2009 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // February 14th, 2009
"Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead." -- Barack Obama, 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address
"Of course race is not put to rest and all the problems among the races put to rest by this election. But it does make an incredible statement about where the American people are and how they feel going into the future." -- Cokie Roberts, ABC News Political Commentator
Back in 2006, after A&E decided to stop airing their Biography series, the Biography Channel was born, not only creating a new home for their existing documentaries, but a dedicated vehicle for future projects like Biography: Barack Obama. What is it about Obama that captured and inspired a nation as early as 1996, and won him a presidential election, seemingly against insurmountable odds? Looking back, though it took several years, it seems like Barack Obama's political climb happened at the center of a whirlwind, and almost overnight.
From his childhood in Honolulu to his senate successes and run for the Oval Office, Biography: Barack Obama follows the life of the man who would one day become the first Africa American president of the United States. With perspectives from a range of sources including political commentators and family members, viewers will gain a more complete picture of the self-proclaimed "skinny kid with the funny name who believes that America has a place for him too." A unique heritage that blends Kenyan, Norwegian, Caucasian, and African American roots made Barack Obama the ideal presidential candidate to foster a feeling of equality that would appeal to both black and white voters. It's interesting to note that the varied heritage that grew into one of his unique assets as a political candidate, were the same factors that, as a young boy, left him feeling out of place with any one particular cultural group.
One of the aspects of Barack Obama that I personally respect very deeply is his devotion and love for his family. It is clear they are at the center of his life and provide the stability and support he needs. He has always put family before his career, perhaps seen most dramatically when he stayed with his sick daughter in Hawaii, even when his chances of state election were at stake back home. It may have hurt his career in the short term, but it set a "family first" precedent in his public life that would serve him well in the future. His opposition to the war in Iraq also proved valuable to him in terms of funding and support for his Illinois senate campaign.
The feature maintains an objective approach throughout and politics only enters into the narrative as the facts dictate. Interspersed with the narration, personal commentaries on Obama the man and Obama the political figure help to create a complete picture. Bringing together images and video segments from various sources, the image quality also varies, ranging from sharp and clear recent footage to older photographs and weaker analog video sources. The audio presentation is clear and remains anchored in the center and front channels, which is no surprise in this type of release.
While Biography: Barack Obama delivers nothing outside of the 50
minute title documentary, the content will leave viewers with a better
understanding of Barack Obama the man, and hopefully some insight into what the
U.S., and ultimately the world, can hope to expect from Obama the president. His
ability to motivate, create, and enrich people's sense of community, and foster
a strong sense of personal and national pride are the core qualities that
brought a lonely young man who grew up in Hawaii to the Oval Office. The road
ahead will indeed be long, but if President Obama and his team are given the
latitude they need to make immediate and drastic changes, hope is definitely on
Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site