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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"... 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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Fabric of '60s Counterculture Politics : Weaving the Threads via Berkeley
This is a superb, valuable documentary.
Berkeley was at the epicenter as the counterculture politics of the '60s emerged. And revisiting the political ferment of '60s Berkeley can offer an unusually helpful overview of these interwoven political currents. This film does that very, very well.
The fascinating footage (including early glimpses at Reagan as a relatively new "pol"), the deft editing, the years-later retrospective reflections of "now-grown-up" participants in the Berkeley "FSM" (Free Speech Movement) -- these are all very engaging, and beautifully assembled. But what makes the film great for me is its clarity in reflecting the interplay of counterculture themes: the movements for free speech and for civil rights, the movement against the Vietnam War, and assertion of the new feminism. Along with the energetic pursuit of "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," these elements blended into one 'tsunami' of a movement -- were experienced by us all coming of age during that time, throughout the US and throughout much of the world. But as a young person during that era, who became very swept up in the self-proclaimed "dawning of the Age of Aquarius," I recall also feeling unclear on how these ideological components -- which otherwise seemed to me distinct and substantively unrelated became intertwined in the social politics of that era.
Whether the film is slanted, and whether "The Movement" was positive or negative, seem to me besides the point. The Movement was; like it or not, that reality is indisputable. From varying perspectives, our entire culture experienced it, and was affected by it. Most of the many millions of us on college campuses during that time were forever changed -- for good, for ill, or both. This film presents the most coherent depiction I've seen of how this happened, what it's "logic" was and manages to do so engagingly, without becoming pedantic. That's a whole lot for one film to do, even for someone who respects and loves film as our culture's greatest current art form.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
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