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:
What does it mean to be American? 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 J. 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.
See more »
The Ludlow MassacreSee more »


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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
What does it mean to be American?, 27 August 2006
Author: wrlang from United States

Howard Zinn; you can't be neutral on a moving train is about the life of activist Howard Zinn who dedicated his life to educating people on their rights as human beings and as American citizens by becoming a history teacher. The axiom, those who ignore history are destined to repeat it, is absolutely true. And most Americans have no interest in real history. Rising out of poverty in NYC, Zinn tells of his life through the 30s to his death. He mentions many of the true American struggles like the Ludlow Massacre, where unarmed miners and their families working in company owned world could not get out from under the thumb of business and were massacred by the National Guard during a union strike. Something that most of today's so called American citizens don't seem to mind. An event that never made the news or the history books. In his heyday during the 60s with the racial strife, Zinn was targeted with so many other Americans to be pushed out of America. Something that is also an acceptable notion in the present – America, love it or leave it – an idiots axiom. There are very few people younger than I and very few people in general who can appreciate the life of American's without the rights we are squandering today. Ignorance is bliss. While I admire Zinn's zeal and agree with his impression of America and Americans lack of desire to know, I don't agree with all his attempts to humanize our enemies of the past. I would encourage everyone to admit their ignorance and choke down as much Zinn as they can handle to try and wake them up with another point of view and another set of possibilities.

The biggest mistake of the protesters of the 60s was that they assumed all Americans were educated about their right to engage in civil disobedience and that the cared about human life in general. Protesters assumed that the troops coming home from Viet Nam understood the wrongness of the war and chose to support it rather than engage in disobedience and risk the penalties. The average American, desiring a wave less and secure existence, had no real concept of any of the inconsistencies the war. They were quite content to kill the farmer that they were told threatened their way of life.

How many ignorant people today feel that democracy means the American way of life? How many ignorant people today forget – and to the REPUBLIC, for which it stands… not the democracy.

How many ignorant people today can't make the connection between crack use and war? The bottom line – if you don't have enough time to understand to another American's point of view, you don't have enough time to be an American. A country of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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