More than 300 people crowded into Vidiots video store in Santa Monica on Friday the 13th, but Jason Vorhees was not the main attraction. The crowd showed up to see three-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, who talked for more than an hour about W., his feature film about President George W. Bush, which was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc February 10.
W. takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life, including his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and the critical days leading up to his decision to invade Iraq. Stone told the crowd at Vidiots that when Bush made the call to launch the Iraq war, the seeds of Stone’s feature film were planted.
“To me the seeds of the character I created were first planted in Bush’s decision to invade Iraq,” Stone said. “That’s when he made his first major decision and he made a very bad decision and that was it. I don’t care about the rest. It’s all a repeat. By 2004 he had made his decision, he had committed his presidency to this blind militarism.”
When asked why he made the film, Stone talked about Bush’s magnetism, a characteristic the filmmaker said he recognized immediately upon meeting the President in 1998. Though Stone said he felt a sense of foreboding about Bush, he said he knew he was going to rule the country.
“I thought ‘there’s something about this guy. This guy is going to rule.’ Sure enough, it happened,” Stone said. “I think my main intention in making the film was to dramatize stubbornness, even in the face of stupidity.”
Stone kept the crowd engaged with stories about the making of W. and observations about the Bush administration. When asked about empathy for the character of George W. Bush, Stone said he would not make a movie where audiences are not interested in the main character and his struggles from the beginning. He also compared W. to one of his earlier films, Natural Born Killers, noting that in both films, reality was corrupted by government and the masses became accustomed to exaggeration, thus ceasing to notice the emergence of out-of-control situations. He went on to say that things look for more hopeful under the Obama administration than they did under George W. Bush, but that the new President is dealing with “an impossible situation.”
Stone’s talk was followed by an audience Q&A and subsequent DVD signing, for which most of the crowd lined up.
The DVD and Blu-ray discs of W. contain bonus materials including the featurettes Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency, a look at the Bush legacy from political experts and exclusive to the Blu-ray; and No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush, an inside look at the making of the film. The DVD and Blu-ray disc also contain an audio commentary with Stone while the Blu-ray disc features additional deleted scenes with optional director commentary.