Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The power of 'Bobby'
So I know we've been busy with all the recent celebrity divorces, but let me direct your attention to a film I think everyone will be buzzing about in the following weeks: "Bobby." Emilio Estevez's directorial effort sports a high-powered cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Christian Slater and Lindsay Lohan.

But the movie's message may be bigger than its all star-line up. The film follows the lives of more than a dozen characters who were at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel just before Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968.

Estevez's screenplay highlights the woes of that time: soldiers going to a questionable war, the government abandoning its people in times of need, issues of immigration reform and problems arising from hanging chads during a presidential election. Sound familiar?

Watching the film, you do get the feeling that it was -- at least in some way -- Estevez's intention to shine a light on current issues. What I was surprised to find out during the film's media tour was that Estevez began writing the script pre-9/11. Estevez told me the film should not be seen as an indictment.

But what impressed me most was the conversation I had with some of the younger cast members who were beaming with excitement, knowing they were part of something grand. Lindsay Lohan, Nick Cannon, Joshua Jackson and Shia LeBeouf all agreed the film had a profound impact on their lives. Like me, these actors had only heard of Robert Kennedy from history books or our parents.

But through archive video and audio recordings of Bobby's speeches, the movie captures the essence of the man and you begin to realize that he was, indeed, special. You get a sense that Bobby Kennedy had a love of mankind that transcended party lines -- a leader whose integrity was matched only by his compassion for humanity, regardless of race, gender or religion, traits which seem increasingly fleeting in present-day politics.

When I asked the cast if they were hopeful for our future and if there could be another "Bobby," the answer was a resounding "YES."

Ironic that a movie about the death of a monumental historical figure may resurrect the one thing this generation seems to need most: hope.

(Editor's note: This post originally described "Bobby" as Estevez's directorial debut. That was incorrect; Estevez has directed three other features, as well as some TV movies and episodes. Thanks to some contributors for pointing that out.)
Thank you for some insight into the movie. I am looking forward to something that is a serious commentary and historically motivated in what has seemed to be a late-season glut of fictional movies.
After hearing his son, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speak just last week at my son's college, it again provided me with hope that there might be someone bigger than the rest of them waiting to come forward and inspire us. Even my college-age son agreed that he had never felt the way he did after listening to someone who cares about more than just himself.
History could have been different. If we had had leaders who were about true "service" instead of mouthpieces for big industry, history could have been different.
I don't know if I can bear to see this movie. I campaigned for Bobby Kennedy in his 1968 presidential bid. It broke my heart when he was assassinated and I don't think I ever really got over it. I was so proud of this man, as I watched him find himself and his true calling during the exciting days of the campaign. He truly emerged from the shadow of President Kennedy and came into his own. To be so close and then to have it all taken away in just one horrific moment, was too much for me at the time. I campaigned in 1972 for McGovern, but my heart was not in it. The magic was gone and there was a sense of something having irrevocably ended. After that campaign I retired from any active involvement in politics, although I made sure to vote in every election. It wasn't until 1992 that I came out of my self imposed retirement to campaign for Bill Clinton.

I don't know if we will see someone like Bobby again in our lifetime. But I consider myself lucky to have met him and been a part of the effort to make him our president. It is one of the things I remain most proud of in my life. I miss him so much, and seeing the clips of his speeches as part of the movie previews, has brought back memories and tears. His speeches were passionate and moving, he always tried to appeal to the better nature of people and inspire them. I urge all young people to watch and listen to Bobby's speeches. Then they can know that there was a time when we had leaders who didn't resort to vicious personal attacks and lies. There was a man who elevated those around him and made all of us want to be the very best we could. I am glad that this movie was made, but I don't know if I will be able to take that journey back to a much different time in this country.
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