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The 1960's alumni of the Berkeley campus tell their stories about how the quiet school became the site of massive political activism on the part of students fighting for their right of political expression on campus and then against the Vietnam War. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
"... worst yet, we attracted to Berkeley, the worst collection of kooks and nuts you've ever seen in your life. Everybody saw this on television, and they had a completely distorted conception of it. They thought, 'what you do is you go to Berkeley, and you riot and you just have a great time; its one big political, sexual, drug feast.'" TC:38.52
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Documentary mostly emphasizes 60s Movement's limitations as remembered by former activists.
Berkeley in the Sixties is an historical documentary that alternates between 1980s oral history and actual period photo-journalism.
So it is composed largely of apparently network-sponsored news footage of the street politics and culture wars of the time. Reflecting an irony of the period, most of this footage of revolution was presumably shot and edited by the action-seeking network video journalists (employed by 1960s Fortune 500 corporations) who recorded the street politics and culture wars of the time.
One reviewer imagines "hypothetical" conservative viewers "talking back to the screen". But the only controversy of this film comes from giving any voice at all to the memories of today's teachers, social workers and businessfolk who (after all) mostly IN THEIR YOUTH had been involved with organizing and direct action in Berkeley. And this social history and oral history ("Heavens!") may be what one conservative reviewer calls "bias". The personal memories of these movements' various opponents (often unavailable anyway by 1990) are mostly not recorded. (Rather only their statements at the time are represented.)
History, like life, necessitates a particular perspective and position. And this one is admittedly not Ronald Reagan's or Ed Meese's or J. Edgar Hoover's history. But the film could by no stretch be called either Leftist or nostalgic or romanticized history of the 60s in the U.S. or abroad.
In the oral history testimonies, the "lessons" attested to are pretty darned mixed. Hardly sentimental, approximately two former activists' testimonials emphasize the MISTAKES and excesses of the period for every one that recalls a success or virtuous result, by my count. In other words, if this is propaganda, it is clearly NOT Leftist propaganda. Neither is this a Sunday a.m. tv pundit debate among major party-allied think tank representatives. The film is an attempt to probe the experience of folks who, like the rest of us, shaped human history both deliberately and inadvertently.
Moreover this is as much another worthwhile film about boomers recalling their hyper-televised, activist youth as it is an attempt at serious history. and yet in the end Berkeley in the 60s does an excellent job of both tasks. It is among the most . thought-provoking films I have seen. --Todd from Brooklyn
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