Shortly after Republicans swept last November to a historic victory in which Sarah Palin was credited with playing a central role, the former Alaska governor pulled aside her close aide, Rebecca Mansour, to discuss a hush-hush assignment: Reach out to conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a request. Ask him if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin’s governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.

The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He’d make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself — to the tune of $1 million.

The fruits of that initial conversation are now complete. The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska’s most famous couple has been rumored to have purchased a new home. When it premieres in Iowa next month, the film is poised to serve as a galvanizing prelude to Palin’s prospective presidential campaign — an unconventional reintroduction to the nation that she and her political team have spent months eagerly anticipating, even as Beltway Republicans have largely concluded that she won’t run.

If she does decide to run, “The Undefeated” will be the key element to her initial coming-out party. The film’s impending release — and the frenzied media attention that it is sure to generate — will serve as a vivid wake-up call that despite the many obstacles in front of her, Palin’s entry into the race would turn the campaign on its head in an instant, just as it did in 2008.

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