'Death of a President' Director Defends Film

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 26, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: It is our big talker story. Americans can soon decide for themselves if they want to see a film where our president gets shot.

"Death of a President" is set for its U.S. release tomorrow. The film uses real footage and special effects in order to show a detailed 2007 assassination of President Bush.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, we have this information. He has been hit twice. He is being treated for his injuries and that is literally all I can tell you about the president at this time.


GIBSON: Here now is the director and writer of the film, Gabriel Range.

So Mr. Range, do you understand why that picture of George W. Bush getting shot makes Americans so angry?

GABRIEL RANGE, DIRECTOR AND WRITER OF "DEATH OF A PRESIDENT": Well, I can understand that it's a provocative image, it's a very striking image and I can understand, of course, that this is a sensitive subject. But I think that sometimes it is right for a film to be provocative. The film doesn't take the assassination of President Bush as a starting point for entertainment. It is a serious film that I hope is thought provoking.

GIBSON: Yeah, but it takes the assassination of President Bush as a perfectly logical thing. You have this riot going on at the arrival of President Bush that has never happened in America, ever. And it has happened in Britain. It looks like a British riot dropped into Chicago on which you then graft this assassination.

And here's the point: Look at this double image. This double image shows President Bush being assassinated in your film and in the real life image that every American knows, Lee Harvey Oswald is being shot by Jack Ruby. You took that iconic image of Oswald being shot by Ruby and made it Bush. Oswald, the guy who assassinated President Kennedy, some would argue deserved to be shot. President Bush, the argument seems to be in this movie, deserves to be shot.

RANGE: Absolutely not. First of all, I take issue with what you say that President Bush has never been met with a riot. As it happens, the events in that first part of the film are absolutely a reflection of what happened when President Bush visited Portland in 2003. He absolutely has been met with that kind of response in a city.

GIBSON: Nobody has gotten to the motorcade.

RANGE: They have forced the motorcade to stop on one occasion in Portland.

GIBSON: But you understand, you are a Brit, everybody making this film is a Brit. This is a European sensibility of Bush, of a Bush riot, of the whole buildup of the trouble that would cause. This is not how Americans see Bush.

RANGE: Well, you know, you are entitled to your opinion. I, of course, respect your opinion that it's a European sensibility. But I personally don't think it is.

I think the film describes some of the responses to 9/11, which of course was an attack on American soil, but you don't have to be American to feel the consequences of that event. We are aware of the War on Terror back in Britain as well. And obviously London last July was also the scene of a terrible act of terrorism. So I think it is valid for me as a Brit to make a film that touches on these issues.

GIBSON: You take an incident in American history to justify the way the suspect in this assassination is handled. Of course America made a mistake about the Japanese internment in World War II. The Supreme Court has spoken about it and there have been apologies issued. You make the treatment of that suspect correlate to the treatment of the Japanese after World War II. Of course America looks bad in that situation. And what one is left with watching your film is that here's a guy who thinks President Bush — some people think President Bush deserves to be assassinated and that it is an inevitable consequence of what he has done and now we're going to show America then screwing up the investigation into who did it.

RANGE: The film in no way suggests that the assassination of President Bush is inevitable. It certainly doesn't suggest that it would be a good idea. I don't think that anyone could leave the cinema thinking that the world would be better in the aftermath of a horrific event like this. It portrays the assassination as something which is a horrific event with truly terrible consequences.

GIBSON: Doesn't take a sensibility — I mean, I read the British press and I have been chastised by the British government for my statements about the BBC. I see how much President Bush is disliked. I see how much he is hated. You are talking about this riot on his arrival, a real sense of hate in the protest, the worst scene I have ever seen, a reporter says. This is completely transferred whole cloth from a European or British sensibility to America and made to seem as if it is American when Americans don't recognize that it is true.

RANGE: That is not the response that it has got from many quarters. But I respect your — you are free to make your own judgment. What I would say to people is this film is not what you think and no way a personal attack on President Bush. It is a big criticism of some of the things that the administration has done in the last five years, but I would urge people to go and see the film themselves and make a judgment.

GIBSON: Gabriel Range, the director and writer of "Death of a President." Mr. Range, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

RANGE: Thank you for having me on.

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