Heavily seasoned with epigrams worthy of Oscar Wilde, this entertaining documentary portrays Vidal as a pessimistic political prophet with streaks of paranoia and misanthropy, but a truth teller nonetheless. In carefully selected excerpts from interviews and conversations conducted during all phases of his career, he exudes a patrician hauteur fed by a reservoir of chilly rage. For this champion of democracy and freedom of speech was an aristocrat who blamed many of America’s blunders on the short memory, or “amnesia” span, of the body politic.
“Envy is the central fact of American life” is a typically acute remark from a man whose default attitude was a lofty contempt. It must be said that Vidal, an avid student of history, was better informed than most people and had a sweeping global perspective.
Nichlas Wrathrall, the documentary's producer, director, and writer will do a Q&A tonight in New York City at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the IFC Center.