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Parents' Guide to

By the People: The Election of Barack Obama

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Slow-paced, one-dimensional docu captures historic election.

Movie NR 2009 116 minutes
By the People:  The Election of Barack Obama Poster Image

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This is a documentary about the historic significance of electing the first African-American president of the United States. If you're looking for a neutral examination of the man, his campaign, or his politics, you won't find it here. Everyone in it, from the candidate to staffers to volunteers in small states is painted in a positive light. Budding politicos seeking to appreciate an important milestone in U.S. political history may enjoy it, especially if they're patient.

The story develops much too slowly, especially given that we already know how it ends. A few campaign issues are mentioned, but none is explored in depth. The people in the film are clearly aware of the cameras, and many scenes feel staged thanks to the lack of spontaneous and genuine behavior. Where the movie does capture genuine emotion is among those supporters who are overcome by the significance of Obama's success and eventual election. If only some of that feeling could have been sustained over more of the film.

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