The Undefeated, which is set for release next month in Iowa, chronicles Palin's rise from mayor of Wasilla to the number two spot on the 2008 GOP presidential ticket. And even though it doesn't single out specific GOP critics such as strategist Steve Schmidt, filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon argues the film effectively negates their post-election portrayal of the former governor.
“All of the nasty things that Steve Schmidt and some others said—I heard it all,” said Bannon. “They got their shot. I got mine.”
Schmidt, the top strategist for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) ‘08 race, has proven to be the most vocal of the campaign's former staffers when it comes to criticizing Palin. In the fall of 2009, the man who was once tasked with shepherding Palin to the vice presidency, warned that Republicans would be in for a “catastrophic” election in 2012 if she were selected as the party’s nominee.
In an interview on CBS's 60 Minutes early last year, Schmidt went further, telling the network that Palin wasn't exactly fond of the truth, resulting in more than one headache for the McCain campaign.
“There were numerous instances that she said things that were not accurate that ultimately the campaign had to deal with,” Schmidt said at the time.
In the bestselling book Game Change, Palin's behavior behind the scenes of the ‘08 campaign was described as erratic and disengaged by authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. It was a portrait rejected by close Palin allies, including former spokeswoman Meg Stapleton, who plays a central role in Bannon’s film.
The nearly two hour documentary relies almost entirely on Palin confidantes such as Stapleton and prominent conservatives like Andrew Breitbart, Mark Levin, and Tammy Bruce to tell the story of Palin's political ascent. The film spends a considerable amount of time on Palin’s accomplishments during her first eighteen months as Alaska governor, while steering clear of any Palin controversies.
Near the end of the film, Breitbart offers a stinging critique of the GOP establishment and assails men within the ranks of the party who haven't come to Palin’s defense in the face of persistent attacks.
“I see eunuchs,” Breitbart declared, adding, "Men no longer have a sense of chivalry."
Levin laments what he calls the weak leadership of the GOP establishment as images of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) flash on screen.
While the former Alaska governor and potential 2012 presidential hopeful had no direct involvement in the film, Bannon said the idea came after he was contacted by Palin aides Rebecca Mansour and Tim Crawford, who helped with access to some key players in Alaska.
At an early press screening of the film last week, Bannon offered up what he referred to as an “X-rated version”—a nod to its inclusion of a litany of uncensored and expletive-laden attacks from Palin detractors. Palin herself saw the unexpurgated version, according to Bannon, though he says the film will be dialed back before it hits theaters to achieve a more family-friendly PG-13 rating.
Bannon told C&E the pic will offer Palin “the hearing she is due” with the public, declaring it the “most controversial film of the year.”
Shane D’Aprile is the editor of C&E.