Confirmation Blu-ray Review
It’s all Robert Bork’s fault!
Nominated in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan for a position on the United States Supreme Court, Bork missed getting the appointment by a Senate vote of 42-58. Many of the negative votes stemmed from Bork’s opinions on everything from women’s rights to civil ones. Bork was also former President Richard Nixon’s hatchet man in the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Nixon had members of the justice department fired because they had asked him for tape recordings during the Watergate investigation. Finally, Bork’s nomination was protested by the ACLU. Reagan then nominated Anthony Kennedy, who was chosen unanimously.
Jump ahead four years to the fall of 1991. President George Herbert Walker Bush (or Bush 41 as he’s often referred to in the press) learns that the great Thurgood Marshall is going to resign from the Supreme Court. He thinks long and hard and nominates Clarence Thomas to succeed him. Things look good for Thomas until a random question sends the country into an uproar. A question asked of former employee Anita Hill.
Twenty-five years after the fact, the toll that the story told in CONFIRMATION took on America is still being felt. A law professor at the University of Oklahoma, Anita Hill (Washington) receives a phone call from Ricki Seidman (Grace Gummer) an assistant for Senator Ted Kennedy (Treat Williams), who serves on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Sensing that Hill is not being totally up-front she questions her further. Hill discloses that, while under Thomas’ employ, he sexually harassed her. Hill is reluctant to say anything else, fearing that her claims will become public. “When things like this get out, it’s the victim who becomes the villain,” she tells Seidman. However, after giving the matter much thought, she sends an affidavit to the committee. Informed of this, Senator Jack Danforth (Bill Irwin), hell bent on not having another “Bork” like event transpire, decides to do whatever he needs to bury Hill, be it gossip or out an out lies. What transpired held the country in its grasp for weeks.
I must give the good people at HBO a tip of the hat. They’ve created a film that lets the audience consider the facts and make up their own decision. Was Anita Hill just a spurned former-employee with an ax to grind? In my opinion, no. Or was Clarence Thomas a vile, repugnant man who used his position to talk about pubic hairs on Coke cans or the impressive manhood of a certain porn star, making him unfit for the office he was recommended for? Again, in my opinion, a resounding yes. That Thomas vehemently denied to answer any questions about the matters brought to the committee, instead pulling the race card, likening the investigation to a “high tech lynching,” tells me all I need to know.
A big tip of the hat also to the cast. Washington is quiet and subdued as Hill, a woman who realizes she must face all of the negatives coming her way in order to achieve a positive. As Thomas, Pierce is perfectly cast. I have enjoyed him many times on the old “Law and Order” television series, often playing the high and mighty lawyer and that persona fits quite well here. Greg Kinnear does well as Joe Biden while Eric Stonestreet excels as Ken Durbenstein, who Bush 41 enlisted to get Thomas’ nomination pushed through. And you can never go wrong when you have Jeffrey Wright in your cast. Here he plays attorney Charles Ogletree, who was Hill’s counsel during the event.
If you’re familiar with the story and made up your mind years ago, I recommend you give the film a watch and hear what you weren’t told in 1991. Then see if your opinion changes.
Video: Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, like every disc from the HBO family, the images are crisp and precise. Archival footage is also sharp and clear and a shot where they “Forrest Gump” actor Pierce standing behind Bush 41 at a press conference is seamless.
Audio: The soundtrack is in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and is presented clearly. Even the hushed moments during the confirmation hearings are loud and clear.
I must say that I was really disappointed at the lack of extras on this disc. Surely someone could have sat down with Anita Hill and gotten her views on the case 25 years later.
Kerry Washington on the Historical Impact (1:34): A short clip with Washington talking about the case.
Wendell Pierce on the Historical Impact (1:16): Just like the one above, only shorter. Obviously this case didn’t have an impact on either actor.
“Confirmation:” Character Spots (13:29): Standard short interviews with the cast of the film. Nothing worth hearing.