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Heath Ledger
Presidential pictures
Several movies and screen icons figure in the lives of both the candidates for the American presidency.
See the report:

It's being said that Barack Obama has to show voters he's one of them, so he's gone to the mainstream popular movie classics.

The first Godfather movies, Lawrence of Arabia, these are traditional choices, they're pretty safe choices. Whether those are the safe choices he wants to put forward to the American public, it's hard to say.

Barack Obama lags when it comes to the most recent film he watched; it was, he thinks, last year's 'Shrek the Third'. John McCain is more up to date; it's been cited that this summer's Indiana Jones movie was the last film he saw.

Toby Miller: "There's no doubt that the Indiana Jones movies, particularly this latter one, which show that old guys still have things to rock with, might suit McCain's story. But I think there's another part to it, there's also this sense of the heroic individual, white male subject who goes anywhere in the world, does anything he wishes.

"He's a combination of a highly individual vigilante and also somebody who has an extraordinarily powerful code of ethics that will sustain him under all sorts of circumstances. One might see parallels between that and the terrible suffering that Senator McCain went through over many years in a Vietnamese military establishment."

Candidates and their movie preferences have long been part of campaigning.

In 1992 the Clintons used movie preferences as a campaign device to connect with voters. Like Obama they wanted to show they were just like the average voter, like other couples who bickered over movies.

There is always the risk of over interpretation, but movie preferences can reveal a candidate's inner life, what they're really all about.

For millions of people across America, Hollywood movies have been a hugely influential force as a formative experience. They've given people a sense of values, they set a standard for evaluating right and wrong. So what is to be made of the fact that when it comes to the first films they remember seeing Senator Obama has mentioned 'Born Free' and Senator John McCain says it was 'Bambi'?

Toby Miller: "'Bambi' is again almost a universal story of great appeal, about struggles within the Animal Kingdom for freedom and serenity in the context of the family life, I think that's probably why it appeals to McCain.

"Barack Obama remembers 'Born Free' as the first film that he can recall, a tale of the way in which serenity and beauty and a way of living together can be resurrected and a struggle between animal life, nature and humanity."

Both men have caught the zeitgeist with their choice of preferred superhero – they both like the comic book icon Batman. Obama has implied he respects both Batman and Spider-Man because they're superheroes with some inner turmoil and they both get knocked around a bit. It's perhaps not too much of a stretch to say that he possibly identifies with them.


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