Art & Entertainment

How Representation Of Elections Has Changed In Cinema Over The Years

The process of elections has been shown beautifully onscreen over the years in cinema. Here are some films that show the representation of the elections onscreen and the stories have evolved over the years.


A Still From 'The Ides Of March'

There have been numerous films that have been made on elections. While in Bollywood lots of films on politics and politicians have been made, in Hollywood, their process of elections also makes for some brilliant storylines. 

Going down memory lane, here are some films on elections from Hollywood that show how the representation of the elections has changed in cinema over the years:

‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington’ (1939)

When Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), an idealistic young man, is appointed to the United States Senate, he is mentored by Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains). However, Paine isn't as virtuous as his reputation suggests, and he becomes embroiled in a plot to discredit Smith, who wants to create a boys' camp where a more lucrative project might be built. Smith takes his argument to the Senate floor, determined to stand up to Paine and his crooked colleagues.


‘The Candidate’ (1972)

In the absence of a candidate to run against respected Republican Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter), campaign manager Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) hires Marxist lawyer Bill McKay (Robert Redford). The public's curiosity is piqued by McKay's arrival, and Lucas progressively pulls McKay toward a more centrist approach. As McKay's original and honest stance is watered down, his popularity grows to the point where he is running neck and neck with Jarmon as Election Day approaches.

‘The War Room’ (1993)

D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, documentary filmmakers, chronicle a portion of the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign. During the New Hampshire primary, the campaign encounters various setbacks, the most notable of which being the Gennifer Flowers controversy, but manages to finish second. Following that, strategists George Stephanopoulos and James Carville travel to the national campaign headquarters in Little Rock to oversee the campaign's remaining time.


‘The American President’ (1995)

With his first term coming to a conclusion, widower US President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) feels that enormous popular support will ensure his re-election. When Shepherd falls in love with lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), his followers begin to question the connection, and his popularity ratings plummet. Shepherd must choose between his political career and his love for Sydney as a rival presidential contender launches an attack.

‘Wag the Dog’ (1997)

The president of the United States is embroiled in a sex scandal only two weeks before his reelection. In need of outside assistance to calm the situation, presidential adviser Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) hires spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), who determines that a diversion is the best course of action. Brean approaches Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) for assistance in fabricating a war in Albania; once started, the duo gets the media completely focused on the fight.

‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

In this adaptation of the best-selling novel about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, the young and talented Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) is hired to manage Gov. Jack Stanton's presidential campaign (John Travolta). Burton is drawn into the politician's colourful world and watches as Stanton, who has a wandering eye that might be his undoing, deals with his ambitious wife, Susan (Emma Thompson), and an opinionated adviser, Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob Thornton).

‘The Election’ (1999)

Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a popular high school government teacher, can't help but observe that accomplished student Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) employs unethical techniques to achieve her goals. When Tracy stands for school president, Jim believes she would be a bad influence on the student body and persuades Paul, a dimwitted but popular student athlete, to run against her. When she discovers Jim's covert participation in the race, a fierce conflict erupts.


‘Head Of State’ (2003)

Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock), a low-level Washington, D.C., public worker, is catapulted into the national limelight when the Democratic Party's chairman, Martin Geller (Dylan Baker), asks him to run for president after the party's presidential and vice-presidential choices are murdered in a plane accident. The odds are stacked against Gilliam, owing to his predilection for expressing the truth about what is wrong with the country. Surprisingly, his forthright demeanour is well received by the general people.

‘The Ides Of March’ (2011)

As the Democratic primary in Ohio approaches, charismatic Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney) appears to be a foregone conclusion against his opponent, Sen. Pullman (Michael Mantell). Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), Morris' idealistic press secretary, believes in his candidate's honesty and the democratic process. However, Meyers' encounter with Pullman's campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) and an affair with a teenage intern (Evan Rachel Wood) put in motion circumstances that jeopardise Morris' election hopes.


‘Game Change’ (2012)

John McCain's US presidential campaign in 2008 is struggling to compete with Democratic Senator Barack Obama. When strategists select Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate, the game changes.