If you drive a couple of blocks down Konrad-Adenauer-Ring from where I was born, you come to what used to be the biggest American military hospital in Europe. It was here that in 1981, the diplomats that had been held hostage in Teheran made their first stop after they were released. Jimmy Carter, the first U.S. President I was ever aware of, came to Wiesbaden to meet them. My parents went down to witness the excitement and later reported that they had, in fact, seen the back of Jimmy Carter’s head.
It ain’t much, but it’s the best Jimmy Carter story I’ve got. Jonathan Demme’s documentary Man from Plains only mentions the Iranian hostage crisis in passing as we follow Carter on a 2006 tour promoting his controversial book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. More snapshot than full-blown portrait, the film is as much about the elder statesman’s ongoing struggle to bring peace to the Middle East as it is about the ways in which the American media deflects complex and controversial issues. For more, check David Hudson’s roundup of reviews.
Jimmy Carter Man from Plains. Jonathan Demme, 2007. ***