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The Weather Underground (2002)

The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1970s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Narrator (voice)
Pamela Z ...
Narrator (voice)
...
Additional Narrator (voice)
Evan White ...
Additional Narrator (voice)
Bernardine Dohrn ...
Herself
Mark Rudd ...
Himself
Brian Flanagan ...
Himself
David Gilbert ...
Himself
Bill Ayers ...
Himself (as Bill Ayers)
Naomi Jaffe ...
Herself
Todd Gitlin ...
Himself
Laura Whitehorn ...
Herself
Don Strickland ...
Himself
Kathleen Cleaver ...
Herself
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Storyline

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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Details

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Release Date:

13 November 2003 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Tempo de Protesto  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,984 (USA) (6 June 2003)

Gross:

$560,199 (USA) (21 May 2004)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Kathleen Cleaver: This pattern of harassment is going on against the Black Panther Party across the country. On Friday, the Watts office of the Black Panther Party was bombed and demolished. Last week the Des Moines office was bombed. They can't stop anything we're doing as a legitimate political organization so they come in and shoot us and shoot tear gas at us like they've lost they minds.
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Connections

Features CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Winter In America
Performed by Gil Scott-Heron (as Gil Scott Heron)
Courtesy of Brouhaha Music
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User Reviews

Great Film - Important Message Against the War Machine
27 October 2003 | by (Detroit!) – See all my reviews

The Weather Underground presents a well-balanced view of the militant faction of the 1960s anti-war group that orchestrated a series of direct actions (including bombings) in protest of the Vietnam War and American imperialism.

To its credit, the film is not overly sympathetic to the members of the group. Rather, it portrays them in a direct and logical manner that tends to explain their more violent activities as the desperate attempts of extremely dedicated activists to engender dynamic change in lieu of those "publicly-sanctioned" methods which they felt were not sufficiently powerful to stop the war machine (i.e., non-violent demonstrations). It should be mentioned that none of the group's bombings resulted in injuries to people, with the notable exception of 3 WU members who were killed accidentally while making a bomb that was destined for an ill-advised attack on military personnel - a seminal moment the the organization's history that "opened their eyes" to the darkness they were headed towards. One cannot help but wonder what would have transpired had that attack been carried out - this is the chilling central lesson of the film, poignantly described by one former member who plainly stated that "the violence didn't work."

At the screening I attended the audience had the good fortune of listening to two of the Weather Underground's key members in person: Bernadette Dohrn and Bill Ayers. This proved particularly interesting, as both individuals, while still espousing their anti-militarism/anti-imperialism views to strong effect, did not express the need for radical tactics as one would imagine they may (given the current climate gripping the nation). Instead, they talked of engaging the issue through learning, organized activism, personal growth and social consciousness/responsibility.

It is this dialectic that makes this film so important right now, and I think that the directors have made an important step towards educating Americans in the subject of social awareness. My only complaint is that this lesson needs a counterpoint, something to break the ultimately sad feeling that one is left with when the screen flickers off at the end. Perhaps if viewed in tandem with a film that explores the victories that have been made through non-violent protest "The Weather Underground" can achieve its best potential.


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