FILE - In a Feb. 17, 2011 file photo, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin answers questions at the public appearance at Long Island (LIA) Association Meeting and Luncheon in Woodbury, N.Y. Palin will share the stage in Colorado Monday, May 2, 2011 at a fundraiser at Colorado Christian University with Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a former senior military intelligence official who disparaged Islam while helping to lead the war on terror after Sept. 11. Monday evening's speech was already scheduled before Sunday's killing of Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File) (AP)

The Sarah Palin movie: A "secret weapon"?

The feature-length hagiography could be a prelude to a presidential campaign in 2012


Natasha Lennard
May 26, 2011 12:47AM (UTC)

It's hard to imagine that any aspect of Sarah Palin's life could remain a secret for long. So it's even more surprising that the former Alaska governor has been able to keep news of a feature-length movie about herself under wraps until just one month before its release.

Today, Real Clear Politics reported that the film "Undefeated" -- a two-hour film by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a budget of $1 million -- will premier in Iowa next month. As Real Clear Politics noted:

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[Palin asked Bannon] if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin's governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.

The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He'd make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself -- to the tune of $1 million.

Bannon went out of his way to keep the project quiet, even asking for random, unrelated footage from Alaskan TV stations when he requested Palin footage, so as to throw people off track.

Scott Conroy, who broke the scoop on Real Clear Politics, gained exclusive access to a rough cut screener. He describes the film as a "sweeping epic ... Rife with religious metaphor and unmistakable allusions to Palin as a Joan of Arc-like figure."

"Undefeated" is not just an attempt to repair Palin's shattered image, however. It is, Conroy writes, "a galvanizing prelude to Palin's prospective presidential campaign." And this is not conjecture -- Bannon himself told Real Clear Politics, "This film is a call to action for a campaign like 1976: Reagan vs. the establishment." (Bannon wants to follow up the film's premiere in Iowa with major screenings in 2012 hot states New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada).

However, Palin choosing to actually launch a presidential bid is a different thing entirely. Neither Bannon's intentions, nor the film, serve as evidence for a genuine Palin campaign -- another publicity stunt is just as likely.

Palin reportedly gave Bannon plenty of access for his feature-length hagiography and as such it will no doubt attract considerable attention when it opens. However, if Palin's TLC reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," is anything to go by, the interest is unlikely to last (5 million people tuned in for the show's premiere; 2 million fewer watched Episode 2).

Conroy dubbed "Undefeated" Palin's "secret weapon." He's right about the secret part. How much of a "weapon" it will be is unclear. The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart is understandably skeptical. "Palin’s popularity among Republican Party faithful has been flagging and that she continues to be wildly unpopular among the electorate as a whole," he writes, "no movie, no matter how favorable the depiction, can reverse this trend fast enough to make Palin a viable candidate for president."

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Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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2012 Elections Sarah Palin Sarah Palin's Alaska War Room

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