Politics is all about drama. The levels of emotion run deep as we want our elected officials to deal with some of our worst problems, like poverty, unemployment and social prejudices.
So a silver-tongued representative who can electrify the cold halls of a town hall meeting or the House chamber in Congress has the potential to change the course of history.
Congressman Charlie Wilson was not one of these riveting politicians, yet he did change the course of modern diplomacy.
Aaron Sorkin, the don of political dramas and the father of the mega-award-winning television show The West Wing, recently wrote a script for a movie depicting the C.I.A. covert operations in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The film is adapted from George Crile’s 2003 book Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.
In classic Aaron Sorkin style, the movie progresses in jog step complete with witty, sly banter between Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), his rich social butterfly donor Joanna Herring (Julia Roberts) and a brazenly tactless CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Charlie Wilson, an ardent anti-Communist as well as a severe alcoholic, philandering, womanizing Texas democrat, is infamously known for his partying antics both in his D.C. flat as well as in a hot tub with girls and narcotics in a Vegas penthouse.
Yet his life is changed when he gets pressured by his long time wealthy socialite supporter/lady friend crusader Joanna Herring to meet with the Afghanistan president. Topic of discussion: the growing Soviet Union violence.
Seeing firsthand the carnage at a refugee camp, where there are amputee children and widowed mothers from the death-reaping Soviet land mines and helicopter strafing, Charlie Wilson does something completely out of character: He decides to act.
Being a part of the Defense Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Wilson orchestrates a covert C.I.A. operation to arm the Mujahedeen with tough-as-nails sidekick Gust Avrakotos. By wheeling and dealing, scratching backs and wining and dining, “good time Charlie” Wilson was able to allocate $300 million dollars to curb the Soviet Union’s invasion into Afghanistan and help bring the end of the Cold War in the largest C.I.A. operation in history.
In the 65th Golden Globe Awards the film was nominated for five awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay.
The movie, directed by Mike Nichols (Closer, Primary Colors), is short film with lofty, serious issues: the fall of the Soviet Union, corruption in politics and terrorism just to name a few. Yet what is utterly fantastic about this film is that I left it feeling both entertained as well as educated.
There is great political satire, especially between Hoffman and Hanks, that will put a smile on your internal political child. And with the movie business in an intense battle to release the most victorious war drama, it was a breath of fresh air to chuckle when dealing with war seeing that currently we’ve been at it for seven years.