This book is a postmodern analysis of Ronald Reagan's 1984 film, A New Beginning, which marked the coming-of-age of the televisual political campaign film. The film was a landmark in the art of political filmmaking. Its thesis proclaimed a resurgence of American pride, patriotism, and prosperity under the leadership of Ronald Reagan. A New Beginning was unprecedented for a number of reasons: it replaced the traditional nominating speech for the candidate at the Republican National Convention; its form was a hybrid documentary and advertisement; it illustrated the use of televisual rebirth rhetoric to gain public support for a political ideology; and, most importantly, the masterful project documented a shift from verbal to visual rhetoric in American presidential campaigning.
The author examines the film as a cultural text and as an effective political tool. Framing, ideology, myth, and visual cliché are analytic tools used to deconstruct the film; the method combines rhetorical theory with communication theory and semiotically-based theories of film and television. Morreale gives insight into the increasingly prevalent use of television to create a political reality.
Joanne Morreale is Assistant Professor of Speech Communication at Northeastern University.