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Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia (2014)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 409

My Rating

Movie Info

No twentieth-century figure has had a more profound effect on the worlds of literature, film, politics, historical debate, and the culture wars than Gore Vidal. Anchored by intimate one-on-one interviews with the man himself, Nicholas Wrathall's new documentary is a fascinating and wholly entertaining portrait of the last lion of the age of American liberalism. Commentary by those who knew him best-including filmmaker/nephew Burr Steers and the late Christopher Hitchens-blends with footage from


Documentary, Special Interest

Nicholas Wrathall


IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (28) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (4)

[Filmmaker Nicholas D. Wrathall] couldn't have asked for a more striking scene than the one in which the writer shows him the grave he plans to occupy (beside his longtime companion, Howard Austen, who died in 2003).

July 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Vidal was our last great Roman senator, mourning the republic as he gazed at a corrupt empire. "Whenever I want to know what the United States is up to," he said, "I look into my own black heart."

June 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Asked at the film's conclusion what he expects his legacy will be, he replies, "I couldn't care less," ornery to the last. Viewers who encounter him for the first time through this film will no doubt share the sentiment.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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We watch before our eyes as Vidal goes from an impossibly handsome young man to a broken-down old one, and age does nothing for his mood.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Remarkably enjoyable, even joyous, the film chronicles Vidal's life from his privileged beginnings, his years at some of the country's most elite prep schools, and his shocking decision to join the Army instead of attend college.

June 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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It is especially odd, given the movie's subtitle, that "Gore Vidal" takes so long to get around to explaining the roots of Vidal's famous cynicism about this country's politics.

June 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a smart and entertaining movie that can fairly be described as fun.

July 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

He was the ultimate insider who shaped himself into the epitome of the pesky outsider.

July 2, 2014 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Filmmaker Nicholas Wrathall takes viewers on a brisk, amusing promenade through Vidal's enviable life: wealthy, globe-hopping, pals of the talented and famous.

June 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Arts Fuse
Arts Fuse

It's not a filling cinematic meal, but juicy morsels of candor and a chance to acquire a deeper appreciation for Vidal's epic ego are worth the price of admission.

June 11, 2014 Full Review Source:

Vidal proves a great one for carving up sacred cows - the Founders, Lincoln, Kennedy, The New York Times, and on occasion, the most holy bovine of the self.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: San Diego Reader
San Diego Reader

A compact but cautiously reverential film portrait of the late, brutally eloquent social commentator. While delving into whatever happened to the phenomenon of the literary celebrity, of which Vidal counted himself the last of that breed - and why.

June 3, 2014 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

The Gadfly Speaks

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source:

A hugely entertaining biography of one of the great observers of the American century whose witty, bitter obstinance is essential in highlighting how far the U.S. has gone off the rails since WWII.

May 22, 2014 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

The unbalanced appraisal of Vidal's life and work in Nicholas Wrathall's documentary diminishes the effect of the writer's engaging dissension of American political policy.

May 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Fabulous profile of the American author/commentator/troublemaker, filmed shortly before his death in 2012.

March 15, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

Audience Reviews for Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia

Rare is the documentary like this one that is entertaining, informative and thought-provoking, with a particular highlight being the debates between Gore Vidal and William Buckley in 1968.(I would have stepped out to get some popcorn but I was afraid I would miss something.) But then again, notice who this is about...

To its credit, "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia" allows its garrulous subject to tell his and America's story through a series of interviews conducted shortly before his death. Along the way, we learn about his not only writing history, but making some of it, doing his bit for the sexual revolution in the bargain. That's not to mention his putting his words into action, twice running for political office and even memorably campaigning at an unemployment office at one point. Even though he was clearly ahead of the curve, this did not come without risk in a country that was not ready for such opinions, forcing him to write in Hollywood for a while which he actually enjoyed. At the same time, he was also capable of the odd conspiracy theory. But just because you are paranoid does not mean the NSA is not listening to every word you say.

I had never before considered there being a connection between Gore Vidal and Christopher Hitchens even though on the surface they might seem similar. But just as they came from different places as Vidal started a novelist and Hitchens a journalist, they also ended up in vastly different places, briefly crossing philsophically in the night. If one were of a pop culture bent, then one could definitely think of their relationship like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. In any case, I still continued to read Hitchens, even after he went to the dark side.

By the way does anybody know where I can get a copy of that photograph of Vidal, Norman Mailer & Kurt Vonnegut?
June 7, 2014
Walter M.

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