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James 'Bily' Petit Frère
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Sandro do Nascimento,
Luiz Eduardo Soares
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. Thorough 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 »
This is one of the most amazing documentaries I've ever seen. Like a lot of people, I had a low opinion of the Weathermen at the beginning of the film. They seemed like selfish and unsophisticated amateur activists at first, and they were. It took a few of their own being killed by their own device -a homemade bomb- to wake them up. This was the turning point not only for them, but for the film.
Although one is a narrative and the other a documentary, this film makes for a great companion piece with Antonioni's ZABRISKE POINT. I feel like I understand that film so much better now having seen this one. In fact, a couple of WU people appeared in Antonioni's film.
The filmmakers have done an excellent job of capturing the emotional and political climate of the Vietnam War era. This is also the only documentary I have seen that shows Martin Luther King Jr. giving his personal opinion on that war. Also, it's a real ear and eye opener to hear a former Weatherman criticize modern day terrorists like Timothy McVey and those connected with the 9-11 attacks. What gives him the right to come across sounding so smug? Maybe the fact that The Weather Underground never killed anybody. If I could suggest a couple of things to the filmmakers it would be if they had only put the words "CASUALTIES: 0" with each bombing mentioned, it would have been more impressive. And secondly, I wish they'd gone into more detail about how the WU successfully broke Timothy Leary out of prison - but then as a magician never reveals, why should they?
By film's end, I had a totally opposite view of these people than I had at the beginning. So there is a real arc to the film that showed how these people had changed, thus keeping the subjects human rather that mere counter-culture stereotypes. That is a challenge for any documentary filmmaker doing a film on such controversial figures as these.
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