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An Unreasonable Man

4.7 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In 1966, General Motors, the most powerful corporation in the world, sent private investigators to dig up dirt on an obscure thirty-two year old public interest lawyer named Ralph Nader, who had written a book critical of one of their cars, the Corvair. The scandal that ensued after the smear campaign was revealed launched Ralph Nader into national prominence and established him as one of the most admired Americans and the leader of the modern Consumer Movement. Over the next thirty years and without ever holding public office, Nader built a legislative record that is the rival of any contemporary president. Many things we take for granted including seat belts, airbags, product labeling, no nukes, even the free ticket you get after being bumped from an overbooked flight are largely due to the efforts of Ralph Nader and his citizen groups. Yet today, when most people hear the name "Ralph Nader," they think of the man who gave the country George W. Bush. As a result, after sustaining his popularity and effectiveness over an unprecedented amount of time, he has become a pariah even among former friends and allies. How did this happen? Is he really to blame for George W. Bush? Who has stuck by him and who has abandoned him? Has our democracy become a consumer fraud? After being so right for so many years, how did he seem to go so wrong? With the help of exciting graphics, rare archival footage and over forty on-camera interviews conducted over the past two years, "An Unreasonable Man" traces the life and career of Ralph Nader, one of the most unique, important, and controversial political figures of the past half century.


As the title of his biography puts it, Ralph Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon. Without him, automobiles would be less safe... and Al Gore would've been elected president. Well, one of those statements is not in dispute. Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan's illuminating documentary begins in the 1950s with Nader's career as a consumer advocate and ends with his more recent reputation as election spoiler. Along the way, they look at a provincial childhood steeped in politics (his parents were community activists). Throughout, they speak with a broad spectrum of interested observers, including Phil Donahue, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn--even Bill Murray. They also feature commentary from the man himself. George Bernard Shaw provides the provocative title. In context, it sums up the film's perspective: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." So, on the one hand, Nader has saved thousands of lives. On the other, his third party candidacy ruined the 2000 election for many voters. An Unreasonable Man may not convince anyone that the campaign was a wise move, but Skrovan and Mantel, a former Nader associate, make a convincing case that he's a Democrat in the truest sense, i.e. a man committed to the idea that one citizen can make a difference. This Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee is necessary viewing for any person interested in American politics--which should be everyone. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Featurette: Debating the role of third parties in the US
  • Featurette: What kind of President would Ralph Nader be?
  • Featurette: Profile of a charasmatic leader
  • Featurette: What happened to the Democratic Party?
  • Featurette: Why is the right better organized than the left?
  • Featurette: Ralph Nader on the Iraq War
  • Featurette: Who is John Richard?

Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn, Eric Alterman, Theresa Amato
  • Directors: Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan
  • Writers: Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan
  • Producers: Kevin O'Donnell
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Ifc
  • DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item can be shipped to over 75 destinations outside of the U.S. Learn More
  • ASIN: B000N2HDHS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,242 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "An Unreasonable Man" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"An Unreasonable Man" is not a pejorative description in the context of this film. One is reminded that the qualities that make an activist effective, are the same qualities of persistence and refusal to compromise that make such a person infuriating in other circumstances.

Although the first half of the documentary is devoted to Nader's rise as the country's premiere consumer advocate, the crux of the film is Nader's controversial presidential candidacy in 2000 and the personal, public and political ramifications of his decision to continue the race knowing that he may cost liberals a victory of the (arguably) more palatable candidate.

Unlike the reviewer below, I did not see in the film any agenda to trash Nader for running for president. When the movie moves its focus to Nader's effect on the 2000 election and whether he should have run under the circumstances, both sides of the argument get a fair airing. In fact, if anything, I felt the movie makers were inclined to the pro-Nader perspective--that for the politics of corruption to stop, a principled stand must be taken.

Regardless of the side of the debate one might take, the filmmakers did a an admirable job of showing through historical perspective why Nader ran, and why he was unapologetic about staying in the race. His personal history, from his experience with the Carter administration, the debate debacle, and his basic uncompromising personality and dogged pursuit of his goals, illuminate the motivations behind the 2000 Nader candidacy.

Although the filmmakers obviously hold Nader in high esteem, particularly for his crusades on behalf of consumers, this is a documentary in the true sense of the word--it is not a propaganda film, it it does not beat you over the head with the filmmakers' views.
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Format: DVD
As a plaintiff's attorney I have always been fascinated with the career of citizen advocate Ralph Nader. He has been involved in the creation of some of the most important legislation of the 20th Century: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Highway Safety Act and on and on. He has been the protector of citizens and consumers with the push for mine safety, safe foods, airbags and seatbelts. It is a shame that his legacy has been tarnished by two unsuccessful runs for President in which he has been called a spoiler by the Democratic Party. If anything Nader always worked within the Democratic arena.

Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan's documentary chronicles the life and career of Nader. It is a film that attempts to present a balanced view of the man's life by presenting interviews with both friends and foes. If there is an issue it seems to be that the film makes its character a little too heroic but this is a minor flaw.

The first part of the film deals with the consumer protection work Nader did in his golden years at Dupont Circle. We view a young Nader as he goes after and wins battles with General Motors on auto safety. We witness the drive and idealism of Nader's Raiders as they take on the corporate giants.

The second half of the film starts with the infamous theory that there is not a dime's worth of difference between the modern Republican and Democratic Parties. If there is to be a change in the country for the better it must come from within the democratic process. This part of the film tells of the two failed runs for president and gives itself over to opinions of whether Nader did what he dis for the good of the counrty or whether he simply acted as an election spoiler costing Al Gore the Presidency.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Magnificent documentary about the legendary consumer advocate. A must for your people, who won't know about Ralph Nader if all they've been exposed to is corporate-controlled news and corporate school textbooks. Great extras on Disc 2 explore America's crazy electoral process and how the most qualified candidate in US history - in fact, Nader was overqualified! - was scapegoated by the Democrats and labeled a "spoiler." Are the Democrat and Republican parties the true spoilers, happily handing over the public's interests over to corrupt corporations? Is it a surprise that they try to marginalize America's top corporate crime buster?
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I used to think corporations were run by men who rose through the ranks on merit. I thought our big corporations were run by the best and the brightest our country had to offer. Then came the disasters at Enron and WorldCom. Now we have a sub-prime mortgage melt-down. So I investigated the flip side of the picture: Ralph Nader.

I had not realized he had done so much good for Americans. I had not known that he sued General Motors for harassment and won.

I wondered how John Kerry managed to throw away his chance to defeat Bush, then I saw this documentary and Ralph Nader described what he suggested to Kerry and I found myself saying, "Yes, I would have voted for Kerry if he had done as Nader suggested." The people running the Democratic party are brain-dead. It was amazing to see Nader understanding what it took to defeat Bush while John Kerry was clueless.

This documentary was one surprise after another. The biggest shock was seeing Pat Buchanan, who had worked in the White House for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, saying on camera that "democracy in America is a fraud." Watch this documentary and you will see why Buchanan might say that.

I have been reading the New York Times regularly since I was a teen-ager. I am now middle-aged and finding out that we need to work hard to be well informed. Now I know I cannot trust the newspapers to keep me properly informed, maybe because they are large corporations with an agenda to twist the truth.

If you want to be an informed citizen, see this documentary.
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