The Assassination of Richard Nixon


This is a review of the movie called ‘The Assassination of Richard Nixon’ by Sir. Read the story of a man who feels so frustrated with the society that he sets out on a dangerous mission.

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The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a story of how Sam Bicke slowly becomes unhinged. Or is it, really?

In truth, isn’t it a story of how the norms of the society, the myths of the current world, exert enormous pressure on each one of us – ordering us to fit in, or be torn apart? Isn’t it a story of how powerful our social and political institutions have become – making us feel terribly small, like a ‘grain of sand’? Isn’t it a story of how alone we are in the modern world?

Sam Bicke is so lonely that his only companions are audiotapes – some that he listens to, some that he talks into. Devoid of real friends of who would understand him, he finds succour in pouring his hearts out in audiotapes addressed to his idol – music maestro Leonard Bernstein. To Sam Bicke, Bernstein represents not just a confidant, but an oasis of purity in a world full of hypocrisy and corruption. Because music, at its best, is always ‘pure and honest’. The real world can never approach the perfection of Mozart’s symphonies and Beethoven’s sonatas.

Most of us take the imperfection in our stride, and sometimes even add to it. We say things that we do not believe in. Sometimes we lie and cheat. We tell ourselves that those are necessary for our survival. To start a business if we have to pay a little bribe to a government official, who among us have the courage to fight the system? After all, we are too small, and they are too big.

When we stop fighting the system, we ‘fit in’. Most of us still feel the occasional surge of anger when we are forced to nod when a pompous boss dispenses his worthless advice to us in a self-important tone. We feel the occasional desire to strangle the government bureaucrat who ignores us, pretending we do not exist, while we wait outside his cubicle for getting an all-important file signed. But we do nothing. We know the cost of rebellion is too high. We nod, we comply, we flatter. We add to the imperfection of the world. We fit in.

Sam Bicke could not fit in. He was too sensitive to bear all the injustice of the world, but too ordinary to change it for the better. He raged against his boss, but he couldn’t set up on his own. He hated selling, but he did not realize that this is the age of shopping – when everybody has to be a salesman. As he raged against every imperfection of the world, the world rejected him. He was fired from his job, his loan application got rejected, and, in a final act of rejection which really pushed him over the edge – his wife divorced him.

As a character said in the famous movie The Lives of Others – ‘Hope dies last.’ But when hope dies, it takes our soul with it. We do not remain ourselves. Sam Bicke too, in his utterly hopeless state, could not retain his sanity. All his rage against the world found its target in Richard Nixon – the embodiment of everything Sam hated. For Sam, Nixon, being the president and most powerful person on the earth – was the biggest symbol of the evil system. During his life, Sam Bicke lost all his small battles against the system. In his final act, Sam Bicke wanted to win big.

But that was not to be. Instead of a heroic end he imagined, Sam’s life ended in a tragic bungle. Though he could not win the battle against the evil system, at last, through death, he could escape the world he could never adjust to.