On Wednesday, Nov. 28, UCSB’s Arts & Lectures program featured a special screening of “Mr. Conservative,” a documentary produced and narrated by CC Goldwater. Goldwater is the granddaughter of the legendary Barry Goldwater, the subject and star of the film. The event started off with an introduction by CC Goldwater, followed by a screening of the film – now available on DVD – culminated in a short question and answer section.
The movie was CC Goldwater’s first film under her production company Sweet Pea Films, and it makes for an impressive debut, as it presents an interesting, informative and highly entertaining documentary on the life and career of her grandfather, a Republican senator for 30 years who ran for president in the 1964 election against Lyndon B. Johnson and is widely considered to be one of the founders of modern conservative politics.
The film contains live footage taken from Goldwater’s personal life, interspersed with interviews featuring a diverse array of politicians and personalities, including Hilary Clinton, George Will and Sandra Day O’Connor, among many others.
The film does a brilliant job of presenting a different side of Barry Goldwater and proposes an alternative to his oft-caricatured, stereotyped persona. It attempts to combat the popularized image of Goldwater as a “loose cannon,” “volatile” and “warmonger,” and provides a rare glimpse into his life and mind. While featuring footage of him as greatly admired and respected, the film also presents the ridicule, mockery and relentless criticism Goldwater faced throughout his life.
Goldwater was generally perceived as an extremist, but “Mr. Conservative” breaks down those barriers and portrays him as a true libertarian whose main objective was fighting for freedoms. Fluctuating between moments of reverence, regret and hilarity, the film truly highlights and captures Goldwater’s brilliant sense of humor, caustic wit and charismatic spirit. Though the movie illustrates Goldwater as a confident, quirky maverick who never hesitated to speak his mind, it is also seasoned with very human moments of Goldwater, and at times feels like an intimate moment of family storytelling.
Though you will probably walk out of the film with a newfound appreciation for Barry Goldwater, it never feels biased or flawed and is an entirely digestible portrait of his character as a person and politician. At a mere 90 minutes, the documentary is worth seeing, if not only because it is highly entertaining, but also because you will probably gain a valuable understanding of a man responsible for fathering a movement.