IMDb > Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
18 June 2004 (USA) See more »
The life and times of Howard Zinn: the historian, activist, and author of several classics including "A Peoples History of the United States". Archival footage, and commentary by friend, colleagues and Zinn himself. | Add synopsis »
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
The old hagiography show See more (5 total) »


  (in credits order)

Matt Damon ... Narrator (voice)
Daniel Berrigan ... Himself

Howard Zinn ... Himself (also archive footage)

Alice Walker ... Herself (archive footage)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Noam Chomsky ... Himself (archive footage)
Daniel Ellsberg ... Himself (archive footage)
Tom Hayden ... Himself (archive footage)
Staughton Lind ... Himself
David Rovics ... Himself
John Silber ... Himself (archive footage)

Marian Wright Edelman ... Herself (archive footage)

Directed by
Deb Ellis 
Denis Mueller 
Produced by
Deb Ellis .... producer
Denis Mueller .... producer
Original Music by
Richard Martinez 
Cinematography by
Judy Hoffman 
Film Editing by
Deb Ellis 
Sound Department
Tom Blakemore .... sound re-recording mixer
Alex Noyes .... narration recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Michael F. Burke .... camera operator (as Michael Burke)
Thomas C. Gaunt .... camera operator (segment)
Editorial Department
Cyndi Moran .... on-line editor
Aaron Edison .... acknowledgment: archival footage provided by


Additional Details

USA:78 min

Did You Know?

Hypocrisy that exists between the wording of the U.S. Constitution and the actions of the U.S. Government in supporting slavery, segregation, the military industrial complex, and corporate interests is the central theme of Dr. Zinn's works, and his life's work in protestation of these perceived injustices.See more »
[first lines]
Zinn, Howard:We grow up in a controlled society, where we are told that when one person kills another person, that is murder, but when the government kills a hundred thousand, that is patriotism.
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
The old hagiography show, 2 October 2011
Author: wandereramor from Canada

Howard Zinn has had a fascinating life, going from working-class soldier to civil rights activist to pioneering historian. The strengths of this documentary is, then, its remarkable subject matter and the inevitable power that comes with it. It's hard not to be moved, for instance, hearing Zinn recount his realization that he was test-dropping napalm in the dying days of WW2.

Unfortunately, the documentary takes a fairly standard hagiographical approach that you often see in documentaries about intellectuals, elevating the person above their ideas even when this seems to go directly against the "people's history" approach that Zinn so argued for. Moreover, it sticks to the same tired talking-heads/archival-clips-and-photos approach that you've seen in every documentary. Hell, you've probably even seen these specific talking heads and photos in many other movies.

Pick up a copy of A People's History of the US, or one of Zinn's other books, but you can skip this documentary. In the end understanding the man's ideas are more important than biographical worship of the man himself.

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