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POV: Taking On the Kennedys (1996)

Tom Kemp , John Kennedy Jr. , Joshua Seftel  |  NR |  DVD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Kemp, John Kennedy Jr., Caroline Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy
  • Directors: Joshua Seftel
  • Writers: Joshua Seftel
  • Producers: Joshua Seftel, Anne Churchman, Dan Melish, Kathy Venzke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2005
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00062110K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,489 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "POV: Taking On the Kennedys" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The Real Russell: a short film featuring Michael Lewis
  • Making-of featuring Pat and Lee Seftel
  • Original television campaign commercials
  • Filmmaker interview and biography
  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

When Kevin Vigilante took on Patrick Kennedy, he intended to run a clean race. He was about to get the political education of a lifetime. P.O.V. presents TAKING ON THE KENNEDYS, an acerbic, witty, and revealing look at the dark underbelly of contemporary politicals. An idealistic Rhode Island doctor and political novice, Vigilante went up against Patrick Kennedy, heir to one of the country’s most powerful political families, for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, he found himself front and center in a modern-day David vs. Goliath battle of distorted television imagery and sound-byte rhetoric. Desperate to revive his dying campaign, Vigilante finally abandoned his ideals and slung mud back at Kennedy--with surprising results. With unrestricted access to the candidates as they plot strategies, vie for media attention, debate, and nearly come to blows on the sidewalk, award-winning filmmaker Joshua Seftel exposes the hard-hitting reality of political campaigns and powerful dynasties, featuring appearances by Caroline Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr., and other powerhouse political figures. DVD Features: Filmmaker Commentary; Short Film: The Real Russell; The Making of Taking on the Kennedys: An Interview with Pat and Lee Seftel; Original Television Campaign Commercials; Filmmaker Interview; Trailer; Filmmaker Biography; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating documentary June 4, 2006
There's a remarkable moment in "Taking on the Kennedys" in which Kevin Vigilante, who's running in 1996 for Congress in Rhode Island against none other than Patrick Kennedy -- yes, one of THOSE Kennedys -- realizes how tough a skin you need in politics. Vigilante first has to beat an opponent in a Republican primary in order to face off against Kennedy, and he's just finished a televised debate with the woman. When he exits the TV station, he remarks in amazement to an aide, "She really HATES me."

It's as if he's finally grasped the fact that pure, unadulterated vitriol can be felt by another human being against you simply because you're running in an election. Perhaps that's the saddest -- and most deeply penetrating -- moment in this brisk little documentary. We have developed a political culture in which campaigns are nasty battles. Negative campaigning is not only expected, it's a test to see if you have the mettle to withstand the tough world of politics. As Vigilante discovers when he squares off in the general election against Kennedy, it isn't enough to run on the "issues." Personality, fund-raising and the ability to play nasty -- not to mention, in his case, the all-consuming question of name recognition -- are all part of the equation.

I was most impressed by how filmmaker Joshua Seftel gained a close and confident access to Vigilante during the campaign. His camera is there at the public events -- when both candidates are hustling for senior-citizen votes at a picnic -- but it's also there for some very private, relevatory moments as Vigilante gets fully immersed in the rough-and-tumble world of politics. If you think running for office is hard, try it when your opponent is waltzing around with one of the most famous political names in the world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Price of Politics May 29, 2006
This film shows how real issues and the more idealistic reasons that one would run for public office are soon left as wreckage on the side of the road to Washington. The Parties don't matter, right and wrong barely matters - winning is what matters.

If you are interested and/or saddened by the sad state of what is called politics today watching this documentary is worth your while. Thankfully all of this is presented with healthy doses of intentional and unintentional humor. All and all an engaging documentary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary! August 18, 2011
By student
This is a really interesting film. It gives you an inside look at the dark and gritty aspects of political campaigning in America. I think the best part about it was being able to see the inner workings of Vigilante's campaign team, up close and personal. The banter between Vigilante and Kennedy is great too. Even though the movie deals with an important and serious issue, it manages to be funny too. I'd highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, cheeky look at American Politics August 11, 2011
By DocFan
This film takes a witty and insightful behind-the-scenes look at the inner-workings of a political race. The director obviously had great access, and has a way of finding human moments within the spectacle of the campaign.
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