By Nicole Zamlout
President Donald Trump is a controversial figure — his name invokes a range of powerful emotions in different people, from anger to joy. What is not as well known is how exactly Trump came to be the man we know today.
In the U.K.-produced Netflix documentary series “Trump: An American Dream,” five decades of Trump’s life are showcased for the viewer. The series highlights his personal story, from his first deal on The Commodore Hotel to his inauguration as U.S. president. His tale is one of great success followed swiftly by downfall after downfall.
The fact that the story is told from perspectives of both his friends and his enemies helps round out the storytelling and keeps the reporting relatively unbiased. The documentary mixes modern interviews with footage from various past events.
These bits of footage let us see how the public viewed Trump in the past while the modern interviews showcase how public perception of him has changed in the present day.
This side-by-side look lets the audience not only see what Trump was feeling, but how he was able to either fix or conceal the less-than-ideal situations he found himself in at various times. It also lets us see how Trump’s relationships with those around him changed over time.
Throughout the entire show, the cinematography remained smooth and polished. Each transition was seamless, whether it went from another aged interview or a modern look with those who chose to chat with the director. At times, all it took was one perfectly executed shot to convey all that needed to be said to the audience.
The story never felt choppy or rushed — each instant in his life received equal attention, no matter how flattering or ugly it was. The colorful use of cinematography kept the audience engaged, drawing us further into the ride that is Trump’s life thus far.
The musical score assisted that suspension. The musical cues heightened each moment — raising the tension or forcing audience members to consider the situation presented — all the while keeping the audience’s ears and eyes on the screen. Each swell of the music made my spine tingle, wondering what exactly would happen next.
The score helped make the series more than a documentary — it turned it into technicolor story of a man on the rise to success and his many pitfalls along the way.
While Trump is quite the character, many can agree that his story is an interesting one, especially with this retelling. Each burst of color and swell of sound keeps the audience as off balance as Trump’s actions and statements as he works to achieve his goals.
Trump’s empire is built on money, bad ideas and good connections. Now, with this masterfully crafted documentary series, the audience truly get to see what is behind the curtain, and it is certainly a lot more complicated than many expected.