Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Alexis Bloom, 2018) USA

Reviewed by Carlie Klein. Viewed at the Egyptian Theater, at AFI Film Festival 2018.

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes gives an in-depth look into the media machine behind appointing of many delegates of the Republican Party. The movie highlights the incredible control and power that Roger Ailes wielded throughout his career, and lays out his rise to power with anecdotal evidence from associates and opponents and historical clips to supplement the claims made against him. While much of Ailes’ work was performed behind the scenes, the film brings these inner workings to light, and shows the predatory and aggressive behavior utilized by Ailes to eventually become the head of a national media conglomerate.

The film was previewed in the prestigious Egyptian theatre, with almost every seat filled. The director, Alexis Bloom, finds the perfect balance of noting Ailes’ accomplishments, while also getting under the skin of every audience member through the hypocritical and repulsive actions of Ailes, and his many associates.

The film begins by painting the portrait of what Roger Ailes wanted the public to see about himself; a cunning and distrustful child, due to the harsh lessons his father taught him. This contributed to his bulldog-like personality, and matching paranoia that made him so successful in striking fear into the heart of America. His vision of a greater nation drove him to create his own show, feeding viewers sensationalist headlines with scantily clad hostesses to act as eye candy. The success of this show eventually led to the network being bought by Microsoft, with Ailes furiously departing to start Fox News. This network has grown to be the voice of conservative America, and the most popular news network in the nation.

The film’s editing, done by Pax Wasserman, switches seamlessly between demonizing Ailes bullying tactics, while also creating circumstances in which the audience cannot help but empathize with the victims of Ailes’ actions. The most striking scene is of a young journalist who has her career brought to a screeching halt, due to the fury of Roger Ailes, after she won’t sleep with him and his partners. The interview created such a somber tone over the film and audience, sobs could be heard throughout the audience.

 

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