The Undefeated (2011 film)

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The Undefeated
The Undefeated Sarah Palin trailer poster.jpg
Directed byStephen K. Bannon
Produced byGlenn Bracken Evans
Dan Fleuette
Written byStephen K. Bannon
Distributed byArc Entertainment
Release date
  • July 15, 2011 (2011-07-15)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$116,381[1]

The Undefeated is an American political documentary on Sarah Palin, who was Governor of Alaska and later the Republican Party nominee for vice president in the 2008 United States presidential election. The documentary is written and directed by Stephen K. Bannon. The Undefeated was released on July 15, 2011.


The film is constructed in three acts. The film opens with a montage. The first act concerns itself with Palin's term as mayor of Wasilla. The second act is about Palin's half term as governor of Alaska. The third act, titled "From here, I can see November," revolves around her candidacy for vice-president and her rise to national prominence. It goes into detail how she became the darling of the Tea Party movement. The film ends with clips of the Madison rally where Palin challenged Republicans to: "Fight like a girl." The last shot is of Palin saying into the camera, "Mr. President, game on!"


Stephen K. Bannon wrote and directed The Undefeated, which was independently financed by Victory Film Group. Sarah Palin was familiar with Bannon because of his Tea Party documentary Generation Zero. After the United States elections in November 2010, when the Republican Party increased their seats in Congress, Palin asked her aide, Rebecca Mansour, to contact Bannon about creating a series of videos to explain Palin's stepping down as Governor of Alaska and to "protect her legacy" to set up for a potential campaign for the 2012 United States presidential election. Bannon instead decided to produce a feature film about Sarah Palin and provided $1 million of his own financing. For the documentary, he interviewed Palin's supporters, including Alaskan residents and conservative bloggers like Andrew Breitbart.[3] While Sarah Palin and her team were not part of the production, they gave Bannon's documentary their blessing.[4] Bannon bought audio rights to Palin's book Going Rogue so he could include clips of Palin's voice in the documentary. While he considered titling the documentary Take a Stand after Palin's campaign slogan during the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial election, he chose The Undefeated as a "more triumphant" title.[3]

Wes Little of CNN describes some of the imagery in the film: "Clockwork Orange"-esque evocative images sprinkled throughout (shark attacks, bodies being buried, warfare both modern and ancient)."[5]


Arc Entertainment released The Undefeated on July 15, 2011 in AMC theaters in Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta, Orange County, Phoenix, Houston, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. Before the commercial release, the documentary had one-night screenings at select theaters in the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.[4] On June 17, the movie premiered to attendees of the RightOnline convention in Minneapolis.

There are two versions of the documentary: one version rated PG-13 by the MPAA, and an unedited version featuring anti-Palin clips from Rosie O'Donnell, Matt Damon, Bill Maher, David Letterman, Howard Stern and Louis C.K.[3]


The Politico reported that professional film critics greeted it with "a chorus of boos", describing the film as 'biased', 'hagiographic', and "propaganda".[6] The film currently holds a 0% approval rating on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes[7] and a 32 out of 100 on the review aggregator Metacritic.[8] John Wilson, creator of the Golden Raspberry Award, said in a pre-screening comment, "Sarah Palin is what the Razzies are all about." New York Post critic Kyle Smith described the film as "massively flawed", and said, "I don't know why Sarah Palin called her movie 'The Undefeated'. She lost the vice presidency, she quit the governorship of Alaska and she cut her bus tour short. The title makes no sense.[9] Time critic Richard Corliss, who panned the film, stated "Bannon applies so much idolatrous airbrushing to his portrait of the divine Sarah that the movie might be called Going Rouge. But he is canny in identifying the 2½-year governor of Alaska as both a faultless heroine and, even better, a victim of the omnipotent American left... in Bannon's version of things, Palin fights the good fight, beats the fat cats and trumpets the pioneer independence of Alaskans from the predatory federal government — a government that, by the way, returns $1.84 in aid to the state for every dollar it sends to Washington..."[10]

The film was given a limited theatrical release in ten AMC theaters located in areas with strong Tea Party support, and was received positively there,[11][12][13][14][15][16] Victory Film Group reported that the film averaged $5,000 per screen in the first two days of release.[17] The Undefeated grossed $60,000-75,000, averaging $6,000 to $7,500 per screen. In larger markets, the film surpassed $10,000 per screen, and at least one theater played the film on two screens to meet demand.[18] However, by the second week of release box office revenue declined by 63% despite a 40% increase in theaters showing the film, with a total gross of only $24,000.[19] Palin announced she would not run for president on October 5, 2011, shortly before the film's DVD release.

Conservative political commentators generally praised the film. Tony Lee wrote in Human Events that Undefeated will "reaffirm what Palin supporters like about her while presenting a solid case to those who may be on the fence about Palin that she cannot only be a strong executive but that she can and has had a history of winning over independents." He found the pivotal moment in the movie was when Mark Levin compared Palin to Ronald Reagan noting that Palin and Reagan share the same type of detractors.[20] Jedediah Bila wrote in The Daily Caller that the film is "a compelling, thought-provoking journey through the accomplishments of a competent, ambitious, principled woman who entered the political arena for the right reasons and has consistently cut through the nonsense to get things done." She compliments Bannon on the segments dealing with Palin's 2008 Republican National Convention and 2011 Wisconsin Tea Party rally speeches writing, "[the speeches] impact viewers with renewed meaning."[21]


  1. ^ a b "The Undefeated (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  2. ^ Berg, Madeline (November 23, 2016). "Steve Bannon's Bucks: Trump's Strategist Cashed In On 'Seinfeld,' Lost On Hollywood". Forbes. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Powers, Lindsay (May 25, 2011). "Sarah Palin Movie, 'The Undefeated,' To Be Released in June". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Ted (June 10, 2011). "AMC to distribute Palin documentary". Variety.
  5. ^ "5 reasons why Sarah Palin may be ready to shake up 'uninspired' race". CNN. 2011-05-26. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-09-10.
  6. ^ Ball, Molly (July 16, 2011). "Palin movie: No thumbs up! Reviewers pan hagiography". Politico.
  7. ^ "'The Undefeated'". Rotten Tomatoes. July 16, 2011.
  8. ^ "The Undefeated 2011". Metacritic. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  9. ^ Pierce, Tony (July 12, 2011). "Sarah Palin is 'what the Razzies are all about,' award founder says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  10. ^ Corliss, Richard (July 14, 2011). "The Undefeated: Her Holiness Sarah Palin". Time. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  11. ^ "Video - Palin doco wins public praise". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  12. ^ Lang, Brett (2011-07-15). "Sarah Palin documentary sells out Grapevine, Texas". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  13. ^ Pipia, Gaetana. "Palin Film Opens in Kennesaw". Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  14. ^ Milliken, Mary (2011-07-16). "Palin biopic now showing in theater not so near you". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  15. ^ "Palin Film Debuts in Houston". MyFOX Houston. 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  16. ^ Batheja, Aman (2011-07-15). "Palin fans turn out at only DFW theater showing 'The Undefeated'". Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  17. ^ July 17, 2011. "ARC Entertainment Announces Strong Opening for "The Undefeated," with multiple sold-out runs and vocal audience support". Victory Film Group. Retrieved 2011-07-19.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Sarah Palin Documentary 'The Undefeated' Claims Victory in its Box Office Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  19. ^ Frankel, Daniel (2011-07-24). "Palin doc headed for PPV as ticket sales plummet". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on July 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  20. ^ Lee, Tony (June 6, 2011). ""The Undefeated:" Documentary Seeks to Reset Conventional Wisdom on Palin". Human Events. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  21. ^ Bila, Jedediah (June 5, 2011). "Palin's record takes center stage in 'The Undefeated'". The Daily Caller. Retrieved September 8, 2017.

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