The Silent Majority (2011)


A New York Times Op-Doc

Directed by Penny Lane and Brian L. Frye

This film, “The Silent Majority,” was born out of a larger project: a feature-length documentary using the Super 8 home movies of some of Richard M. Nixon’s aides (Our Nixon, 2013). As we combed through the home movies, we fell in love with these long shots of crowds out to meet the president. Filming over Nixon’s shoulder, the cameramen lingered on the faces of these ordinary, anonymous Americans. We began referring to this footage in edit-room shorthand as the “Silent Majority” footage.

This short documentary suggests a direct connection between two of Nixon’s greatest triumphs as president: his landmark 1969 “Silent Majority” speech (in which he argued that street protesters did not represent the views of most Americans, despite their increasing visibility) and his historic landslide re-election in 1972 (in which George S. McGovern won only one state and the District of Columbia, losing even his home state of South Dakota).

We do not draw conclusions in this video as to what the significance of the notion of a “Silent Majority” is to today’s political reality. That, dear viewer, we leave up to you.