Produced at the height of the Vietnam War, Emile de Antonio's Oscar-nominated 1968 documentary chronicles the war's historical roots. With palpable outrage, De Antonio (Point of Order, ... See full summary »
Emile de Antonio
Harry S. Ashmore,
In the late 1960s and early 1970s polarization of American political situation was becoming acute, with the Vietnam War abroad and civil rights at home being the most pressing issues. For the youth political movement, seemingly ineffectual methods of peaceful protest and resistance led to the rise of a faction that wanted a more extreme approach that the government could not ignore. One particular group, the Weather Underground, attempted to team up with the Black Panthers to violently confront the US government. They began with participation in street riots, and escalated their efforts to include the bombing of specific targets associated with the government or local power structures. Through archival footage and interviews of participants on both sides of this conflict, this film covers the Weather Underground's campaign of violence through this period, the FBI's strategies and tactics to apprehend them (including some deemed unethical or illegal), until changing times and ... Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the segment about the accidental explosion of the Greenwich Village townhouse at 18 West 11th Street, Dustin Hoffman can be seen standing next to a fire truck observing the scene. He was living in the townhouse next door with his wife at the time, Anne Byrne. See more »
Once Richard Nixon was elected president and inaugurated in January 1969, we were targeted, bam, bam, bam, by a very sophisticated, advanced, counterintelligence program; At the same time, by very crude and violent police.
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I had actually never heard of the Weathermen before "The Weather Underground" came out. As I understand it, some people complained that the documentary glossed over some of their more violent activities (and some people think that that may have cost it the Best Documentary Oscar). But the way I see it, these sorts of documentaries are always going to stir up controversy, with different factions in society complaining about what they do and don't focus on.
No matter. I will say that the documentary brings up important questions about when it's OK to use violence against those in power. Certainly the US government's actions in Vietnam - plus its spying on radical groups - left the people who formed the Weathermen feeling that they had no other options. And of course, it brings up questions of how far we can go today, when the Bush administration labels political opponents as terrorist enablers.
So overall, I do recommend the documentary as a look at '60s radicalism (even though this is radicalism in a less than pleasant form), and also a look at government surveillance. Whether or not you agree with the Weathermen is of course up to you. As for whether or not the documentary glossed over their more violent activities, is that any different from glossing over the government's crimes?
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