An Unreasonable Man

(Not Rated)

DVD Release: June 2007

I am starting off my review under the assumption that almost everyone has heard of An Unreasonable Man because it was a 2007 Academy Award nominee in the Best Documentary category. To me, unlike fictional films, the documentary relies more on its subject for its success or failure. This is especially true for political documentaries. Now one would think that a documentary about Ralph Nader would be a far from fascinating viewing experience, but anyone who believes this about the film An Unreasonable Man would be dead wrong.

Filmmakers Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan have crafted a portrait of Nader that captures the complexities of a man who has done more for the United States in the past four decades than almost every other citizen. Perhaps the greatest victory for this film is that it manages to make Nader’s two presidential runs in 2000 and 2004 seem like logical extensions in his career, and anything but unreasonable.

The DVD itself is a real treat. What separates An Unreasonable Man from other documentary releases is the second disc of extras. The bonus disc is actually 15 minutes longer than the feature film. While most bonus discs feature deleted scenes (this one has seven), what makes this release stand apart from all others are the featurettes. There are six of them on disc two. The features range from the excellent, Debating the Role of Third Parties in the U.S., Why is the Right Better Organized than the Left?, What Happened to the Democratic Party, to the more standard but still good, What Kind of President Would Ralph Nader Be?, Profile of a Charismatic Leader, and Ralph Nader on the Iraq War. The bonus disc alone is worth whatever price you pay for the set.

This is a documentary, so don’t expect to be blown away by the video and sound, but the DVD is visually crisp and clear. I don’t see anyone needing to crank up their home theater in order to enjoy this one, but if you wanted to, it will sound fine. As an avid viewer of documentaries, I highly recommend that you not only see this fine film, but that you take the time to check out the 137 minutes of features on the bonus disc. This is a DVD set that looks to not only paint a portrait of an uncompromising, and fascinating figure, but also inspire a larger political discussion. It succeeds on both counts. If you don’t know much about Ralph Nader, or are interested in why the American political system is in the sorry state it is today, watch this two DVD set. You won’t be disappointed.

You can purchase An Unreasonable Man right here.


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