Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election

With a new election looming just over the horizon, Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, takes a look at the last one, won by a controversially thin margin of electoral votes in Florida. Both the Bush and Gore campaigns were jockeying for position, trying to prove that their side was the true victor. Recounts, hanging chads, purged voter lists, and all sorts of other factors played into a media circus that culminated at the Supreme Court. Controversy dogged each side along every step of the way. Directors Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler firmly believe that Republicans stole the election away from Gore, and Unprecedented is their point-by-point analysis of how it happened.

That's all fine and dandy, but the one problem is that there is little here that is new. It is a great summary of conclusions from various other places, and the two do a good job of tying everything together, but in a way, it's all old news. This story was all over the place, and refused to die, and this additional documentary is just more to add onto voter fatigue. And while all of these recent documentaries are partisan, Unprecedented seems much more partisan than most. Perez, Sekler, and a slew of authors (who seem to be pushing their books) lambaste Gov. Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris for their actions.

The film runs through the familiar litany of complaints, starting with the purging of voter files that allegedly eliminated many blacks from voting. Confusing ballots and problems with chads are touched upon. The more interesting stuff comes after the vote. Unprecedented takes a look at both sides and their actions, analyzing them and commenting on them. It also mentions the conclusions of a report funded by some prestigious news organizations that many in the public were either unaware of or simply ignored because of the overexposure. The most surprising aspect of this documentary is that one commentator says that the Gore campaign made a mistake, and should have asked for a full recount. But much of the commentary boils down to demonizing various members of the Republican Party and the Supreme Court.

Unprecedented was released last year, but re-released this year with some additional information, book ended with a surprisingly stilted opening and closing by Danny Glover (The Cookout, The Royal Tenenbaums). The new material concerns issues surrounding electronic voting machines. Although this material is interesting, and brings to light some serious conflicts of interest, it really has little to do with the rest of Unprecedented, and even uses some footage (credited properly) from a different documentary. Adding this section dulls the focus of the rest of Unprecedented. It is peripherally related, and seems there only to ensure that the running time is long enough to be a film, rather than a short.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
57 minutes, Not Rated but would most likely be a PG, possibly a G.

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