The Ides of March Essay
1. Theme – A political consultant learns that to avoid the tricks and traps of politics he must abandon some of his values. 2. Wants and Needs – Steven shows his want early on when he is speaking to the reporter Ida. He wants Governor Morris to be the next president of the United States. Steven’s needs are much more complicated than his wants. He needs to remain untainted by the games and plays that goes on in politics. The need to remain uncompromised shows itself in the very same scene with Steven Ida and Paul.
Steven is the only one really fighting for what he believes in at that table and his response to Ida’s questions almost comes off as self righteous and speechy. Governor Morris’ wants are to become President of the United States. He is actively seeking the seat and every action taken by him in the movie shows this. His need is similar to Steven’s in that he needs to remain uncorrupted and uncompromising to keep his sense of worth. Paul’s wants are to help Governor Morris become the next president same as Morris and Steven. His needs are different than either though.
He is a veteran when it comes to the political game and has been playing for long enough to know all the tricks. He is not uncompromised and not still idealistic. He needs to retire from the game. He looks over stressed and overworked, and in order to not die early from this stress he needs to get out of the game, or as they say “Start a nice consulting firm off k- street. ” Duffy wants Senator Pullman to win the primary and he is willing to do anything in order for him to accomplish this want. Duffy’s need is to stop being so manipulating of others.
In the end it is his manipulation of others that causes his candidate to lose the primary. Molly is harder to read. I think she just wants to be apart of the process, she doesn’t seem too excited about whether the candidate wins or loses. Her need is to start thinking things through and not making rash decisions. Senator Thompson wants a high position in the white house in return for his support for the office. His alliances are to whoever can give him the best seat. His need is hard as he is such a small character. Ben wants to be successful in the campaign and be promoted.
His need is to stay away from the tricks and traps that his predecessors have fallen into. 3. Opposing Poles of Existence – The main opposing pole for the Ides of March are Headstrong and Compromising. Steven starts out on the headstrong side, he has his beliefs and he is committed to seeing them come to fruition. Steven says “If Mike Morris is President it says a lot more about us than it does about him. I don’t give a fuck if he can win, he has to win. ” He will change when he is confronted by Duffy the opposition. He is shown that they are losing and this causes him to take action and try to win.
Steven and Paul try to convince Morris to promise Secretary of State to Thompson, knowing that he is the wrong person for the job. He is pushed even further to the compromising side of the poles when he is fired from his position in the campaign. At this point he becomes reckless and goes into the opposing candidates ready to tell all. The simple act of being fired pushed him almost to the other side of the poles. Governor Morris begins on the side of the headstrong as well. He refuses to promise the Secretary of State to Thompson, even though he knows that it will most likely cost him the election.
As the movie progresses he is forced by Steven to make that compromise on the threat of losing not only the election, but his reputation and his marriage. Duffy is the Anchor character for the side of compromise. He does not move at all on the opposing poles. He will do or say anything to win including giving Thompson what he wants to gain his support. This is shown by the fact that he has already promised Thompson a seat in the white house. He praises Steven so that he will either cross over and work for him, or try and get him fired so that his opposition isn’t able to utilize him.
At first I felt that Paul was the anchor character opposite to Duffy, but on this pole, both Paul and Duffy both compromise and go for the win. Paul shows this compromising nature when he is the first to advise Morris to go ahead and promise this Thompson Secretary of State. I suspect this to be in the nature of their jobs, and that they would not be very good at them if they didn’t compromise. This is also why Steven becomes an excellent campaign manager when he slides down the pole towards compromise. 4. Character Arcs – Steven begins the story as very idealistic.
When speaking with the reporter Ida he shows that he believes in the campaign and Morris one hundred percent. His faith is shaken first by Duffy and his manipulations. Duffy calls him to a bar to tell him something important and all Duffy is trying to do is stir up trouble within the opposing campaign. Steven is then given even more troubles when a young intern he is sleeping with tells him that she is pregnant and that it is Morris’ child. Like the good campaign manager that he is he quickly tries to cover it up by helping her get an abortion.
Unfortunately Paul the Senior campaign manager leaks that he has met with Duffy to Ida the reporter. Ida threatens the to expose this meeting in an article. Paul is “forced” to fire Steven. Even though that was the goal of leaking the meeting to the reporter. Steven has at this point forgotten about the girl waiting for him to pick her up at the abortionist office. He strolls into the opposing campaign office and tells Duffy that he is ready to join their side and that he has dirt that will ruin Morris and guarantee Duffy’s candidate the victory.
Duffy refuses to hire Steven and steven is at the farthest point from where he began. Ready to not only ruin Morris’ campaign but to also ruin his marriage, reputation, but also the life of the young intern by exposing her affair and her abortion. Then Steven learns about Molly’s suicide. He knows that this was partially his fault as he goes over his missed calls and listens to his voicemails. “Don’t do anything fucked up” she cries at his voicemail over the phone. At this point in the movie there is a huge change that happens to Steven. Whenever you see him after this, the joy has left his eyes. The smile is gone from his lips.
He is all business just like Duffy said that he would be when he said “Get out now, while you still can… You stay in this business long enough you’re going to get jaded and cynical. ” You can see that he liked what he did in the beginning of the movie. But from this point on, He lost the joy. Paul came off as the realist of the movie. He is seen using facts and numbers, stating what he means and not allowing his words to be twisted. He has been around the politics game long enough to know how to avoid the tricks and traps that are so easy to get caught up in. Though through the course of the movie he begins to lose control.
When he gets the bad news from Steven that he met with Duffy, they are behind in the poles, and their opposition has offered Thompson a position in the white house for his support. The bad news is too much for him and he cracks. Makes the uncalculated move of setting up Steven with the reporter so that he can fire him. This sets off the chain reaction that would ultimately wind up with him being removed from the campaign. While the mistake that he made was a big one, it seemed that he handled everything with grace, unlike Steven who flew off the handle and began acting rashly. Molly was a little scattered.
She started out as the flirty intern with Steven. When discussing age she divulged that she was 20. However the next morning after he had slept with her she claimed to be in her teens. Which prompted a worried look on Stephen’s face and the start of some very troubling music. This however was not mentioned, referenced, or used again in the movie. It made me feel like there was more that was done, then cut from the movie for time or something else. Molly’s has only one major moment of change in the movie. She is already pregnant when the movie begins, so the only change was when she killed herself.
Finding a permanent solution to an issue that never happened. Molly was shown to be unimportant in my eyes by the last scene where there was a new intern working for the campaign, she is asked the same question that Steven asked Molly “Are you a Bobcats girl? ”. Only she was asked by Ben who was currently working at the same position that Steven was before. Meet the new Molly, same as the old Molly. Governor Morris was forced to promise Thompson the Secretary of State seat even though he had said previously that he would never do that and that it was not an option. Through his own mistakes he brought on the downfall of his campaign.
The campaign however was saved by the forcing of Steven. He is shown to be uncompromising and generally good. Right up until he was backed into a corner by Steven. In his speech after Molly’s suicide he says that it is a sad day for the campaign and then quickly corrects himself to say that it is a sad day for all that knew her. I feel that his first statement was the one he truly felt. At this point he is realizing that he is losing and that there is little chance of a victory. When Steven forces him to take the victory that he has wrapped up nicely for him by promising Thompson the Secretary of State position. . Reactions – The film was better than I expected it to be. I’m not usually a fan of political movies, but because this focused less on the politics and more on the interactions between people, I was able to relate better to the characters. I didn’t like that the movie mentioned that Molly was twenty, then soon after she said she was in her teens. Most likely it was just her messing with him like she had been earlier with the change in her hair and her name being Mary, but it was not made clear enough for me not to feel like they should have done more with that.
I enjoyed Paul Giamatti’s character Duffy immensely. He was so close to having victory in the primary and then, because he didn’t want his campaign to look like it was picking up the scraps of Morris’, he missed out on an assured victory with the whole adultery/abortion scandal that was about to be laid on his lap. There are also two scenes in which show him on the television defending his candidate. One which he was commenting on republicans voting for his candidate and another after Thompson had come out in favor of Morris.